All the presidents' delightfully awkward first pitches
Photographs of America's most powerful men throwing the ceremonial first pitch gives some indication of why they got into politics
The grand tradition of America's president throwing out the ceremonial first pitch on baseball's Opening Day began with William H. Taft.
June 9, 1910 | President Taft tosses out the first pitch. | (Corbis)
Sure, presidents enjoyed the nascent national pastime before Taft, but few actually attended the games. When the 27th president appeared in the stands for the Washington Senators' Opening Day, just one month after his inauguration in 1909, team manager Jimmy McAleer was inspired to involve the high-profile guest in the game. And so, the following year, from his seat in the stands, Taft threw the season's first pitch to the Senators' pitcher Walter Johnson, who went on to lead the team to a 3-0 victory over the Philadelphia Athletics.
Since Taft, every president not named Jimmy Carter has thrown out at least one Opening Day first pitch. The executive guests of honor followed in Taft's hefty footsteps, throwing the first ball from the stands, until the late 1980s when Ronald Reagan sauntered onto the mound and improved upon the tradition.
In honor of a new Major League Baseball season, here are the presidents' most delightfully awkward pitches.
1916 | President Woodrow Wilson. | (Library of Congress)
c. 1921 | President Warren G. Harding. | (Library of Congress)
October 1924 | President Calvin Coolidge throws out the ball for the opening game of the 1924 World Series between the Washington Senators and the New York Giants. | (Library of Congress)
c. 1929 | President Herbert Hoover. | (Library of Congress)
May 1941 | President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.| (Keystone/Getty Images)
April 18. 1949 | President Harry Truman. | (AP Photo/William J. Smith)
1957 | President Dwight Eisenhower. | (Corbis)
April 10, 1961 | President John F. Kennedy. | (Bettmann/CORBIS)
April 13, 1964 | President Lyndon Johnson. | (AP Photo)
April 7, 1969 | President Richard Nixon. | (AP Photo)
July 13, 1976 | President Gerald Ford throws out the first pitch to start the All-Star game in Philadelphia. | (AP Photo)
Sept. 30, 1988 | President Ronald Reagan throws out the first pitch from the mound at Wrigley Field. | (AP Photo/Charles Tasnadi)
April 8, 1991 | President George Bush throws out the first pitch at the Texas Rangers’ opening night in Arlington. | (AP Photo/David Sams)
April 1992 | President Bill Clinton. | (Scott Wachter/ALLSPORT/Getty Images)
April 5, 2004 | President George W. Bush. | (Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
July 14, 2009 | President Barack Obama throws out the first pitch at the 2009 MLB All-Star Game in St. Louis, Missouri. | (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)