Photographs of Presidents At Opening Day in Washington D.C.

Presidents of the United States Attend Baseball’s Opening Day

President William Howard Taft throws out the ceremonial first pitch at opening day

President William Howard Taft throws out the ceremonial first pitch at opening day  -1911.

President McKinley was invited to the Baltimore Orioles National League opening day in 1897, and though he assured the team he would try to make it to the game, he ended up not going. Had McKinley attended he might have been the first president to attend baseball’s opening day and throw out a ceremonial first pitch.

In 1910 President William Howard Taft threw a ceremonial first pitch to begin the baseball season. Taft, threw the baseball from the grandstand to pitcher Walter Johnson, but catcher Gabby Street who Taft was supposed to throw it to, took the ball from Johnson and promptly put the ball in his pocket to keep as a souvenir. Later, Street returned the baseball to Johnson who went on to pitch a one-hit, 3-0  shutout against the visiting Philadelphia Athletics.

After the game Johnson sent the ball to the White House to have it autographed by Taft. President Taft returned the ball to Johnson with this inscription:  “To Walter Johnson, with the hope that he may continue to be as formidable as in yesterday’s game. William H. Taft.”

Since then it has become a tradition for the president to attend baseball’s opening day and toss a pitch.

President Wilson Opening Day 1916President Woodrow Wilson with his wife Edith at opening day – 1916.

It was relatively easy for the president to show up at opening day with the Washington Senators having their home games at Griffith Stadium from 1911 – 1961, only five miles from the White House.

In recent years many presidents have shirked the tradition and have attended only one or two opening games during their presidential tenure. While he was President, Jimmy Carter never attended an opening day, but did throw out a ceremonial first pitch at the 1979 World Series. In his eight years as commander-in-chief Barack Obama has only attended one opening day.

Here is a gallery of president’s at opening day.

President Harding first pitch 2 photo locPresident Warren G. Harding at opening day – 1922.

President Franklin Roosevelt throws first pitch 1940 with Joe CroninPresident Franklin Delano Roosevelt opening day with Boston Red Sox star Joe Cronin. Roosevelt’s throw ended up hitting a Washington Post camera! – 1940.

Harry Truman 1952 opening day first pitch

Harry Truman opening day first pitch – 1952.

President Eisenhower opening day 1958 Washington Senators photo Don WingfieldPresident Dwight Eisenhower who liked golf a lot more than baseball, reading the newspaper before throwing out the first pitch. photo: Don Wingfield – 1958.

President Kennedy first pitch 1962President John F. Kennedy throws out the first pitch – 1962.

President Johnson Throws First Ball Opening Day 1964President Lyndon Johnson throws out the first pitch – 1964.

President Nixon first pitch 1969President Richard Nixon throws out the first pitch as baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn (l) and Washington Senators manager Ted Williams look on – 1969.

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