PHOTO OF THE WEEK: Presidential First Pitches!

Each week, HSJ will bring you a “Photo of the Week” to make some clever and timely statement about the season.   For our first selection, we thought it fitting to throw out an historic ceremonial first pitch shot.

BS ORIOLES WASHINGTON AThis photograph was taken by Robert F. Kniesche for the Baltimore Sun on April 15, 1957.  Pictured are President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Managers Chuck Dressen (Senators) and Paul Richards (Orioles) at Griffith Stadium.  According to a handy presidential “Baseball Game Attendance Log” at Baseball Almanac, the O’s won the contest 7-6. Little known fact:  Eisenhower actually played professional baseball before, and even after, his days at West Point, where he competed in both football and baseball in apparent violation of the intercollegiate amateur code.  He was even Academy teammates on the diamond with Omar Bradley, the last of the five-star Generals.  So, it’s safe to assume  Ike’s pitch had a little pepper on it.

If you look closely behind Ike’s fedora, you’ll see then-Vice President Richard Nixon, who famously said, “I don’t know a lot about politics, but I do know a lot about baseball.”  Did you know he was offered the job of MLB Commissioner after he resigned the presidency?  Clearly he declined.

Some more bones for all you trivia hounds:  President William Howard Taft began the Opening Day first pitch tradition at DC’s Griffith Stadium on April 14, 1910, where the Senators hosted Philadelphia Athletics.  Baseball Almanac notes the Senators took that one 3-0.  For decades, ceremonial first balls were launched from the grandstand (with varying degrees of speed and accuracy), until Ronald Reagan shook things up on with an unannounced trip to dear old Memorial Stadium in Baltimore on April 2, 1984, where he not only took the mound and hurled a “dropping fastball” to Rick Dempsey, but watched a whole inning from the Orioles dugout.  Perhaps the visiting White Sox were reacting to the former Cubs announcer’s snub when they bested the O’s 5-2, with Harold Baines betraying his fellow Marylanders with 3 RBI’s off Scott McGregor. As the Gipper once said, perhaps at that 1984 opener, “I think we ought to nail his (Qadhafi) nuts to that log over there (the Orioles dugout bench) and push him over.”

We encourage all you amateur photographers out there to email us your best shots at halfstreetjournal@gmail.com, and we will be proud to feature the cream of the crop and give you your props!



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