William Howard Taft First Pitch 1910
How the Newspaper Covered Baseball’s First Presidential ‘First Ball’ Toss
President Taft Tosses First Ball
Great Opening for American League
All Attendance Records Broken in Washington
Washington, April 14, 1910 — The opening of the American League season in Washington today between the local and Philadelphia clubs, was a most auspicious one. President and Mrs. Taft, Vice president Sherman and many other notables were present and the Nationals won by the shut out score of 3 to 0. For the first time on record, a president of the United States tossed out the first ball and what was more he sat through the entire nine innings and seemed greatly to enjoy the contest. The attendance broke all records.
Last year, President Taft saw Washington play Boston late in the season, but then the local players got stage fright when the President arrived and threw the game. Mr. Taft remarked then that he must be “hoo-doo” and remained away from the ball park the rest of the season. This morning President Noyes of the Washington Club went to the White House and presented to Mr. Taft baseball pass No. 1
Just before play was started Umpire “Billy” Evans made his way to the Taft box on the right wing of the grandstand and handed the President a new ball. Mr. Taft took the ball in his hand as though he was expected to throw it over the plate when he gave the signal. He handed the ball to Mrs. Taft who weighed it carefully in her hand while the President was doffing his gloves in preparation for his debut as a pitcher.
Mr. Taft watched as the players warm up and a few minutes later shook hands with Managers MacAleer and Mack. When the bell rang for the beginning of the game, Mr. Taft shifted uneasily in his seat, the umpire gave the signal and the President raised his arm. Catcher Street stood at the home plate ready to receive the ball, but the President threw it straight to Pitcher Walter Johnson. The throw was low, but the pitcher struck out his long arm and grabbed the ball before it hit the ground. The ball was never put in play as it is to be retained as a souvenir of the occasion.
Hartford Courant Friday April 15, 1910 (Source: Newspapers.com)
President William Howard Taft throwing out a ceremonial pitch. (Credit: Bettmann/Getty Images)