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Tag: baseball

Play Ball, Mr. President!

In honor of Opening Day for the 2013 baseball season, we’ve put together this gallery of baseball-related photos, documents, and artifacts from the holdings of the 13 Presidential Libraries of the National Archives. This summary of Presidential baseball history was compiled by James Kratsas, Deputy Director at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum. This post originally appeared on the White House blog.

And you can read about even more baseball history in the National Archives in our new, free eBook!

Our national pastime and our nation’s leaders have shared a unique relationship for some 150 years. Presidents throwing out first pitches or hosting World Series winners at the White House are familiar images from each baseball season.

The connection between Presidents and baseball stretches back as far as Abraham Lincoln. According to research conducted for the 1939 Major League Baseball Centennial Celebration, Lincoln was playing baseball in Springfield, Illinois, when he was informed that the Chicago Republican Convention had nominated him as the Presidential candidate. Lincoln is reported to have responded, “They will have to wait a few minutes until I get my next turn at bat.” A year later when he arrived at the White House in 1861, baseball’s popularity had caught on in Washington, DC. As President, Lincoln is said to have played baseball on the White House lawn.

Lincoln’s … [ Read all ]

Facial Hair Friday: Opening Day Mustache

Opening Day of the 2013 Baseball Season is this Sunday! What better way to celebrate than to crack open some peanuts, download our free eBook “Baseball: The National Pastime in the National Archives,” and grow a luxuriant mustache in honor of President Taft.

Taft is the newest addition to the Nationals Racing Presidents.The 27th President is well-known for his size and his bushy white mustache. He was the last President to sport facial hair while in office.

Did his luxuriant mustache give him an edge in the search for a new mascot? Of the five Presidents represented, facial hair adorns three of their outsized noggins.  Lincoln has a beard, Teddy Roosevelt has a mustache, and now Taft has joined the crew with a mustache of his own. The only clean-shaven mascots are Washington and Jefferson.

While the mustache may have tipped the scales in Taft’s favor, Nationals management may have also wanted to honor Taft for his role in baseball history.

Taft was the first (and remains the only) former President to become a Supreme Court justice. But before he was on the bench, he was in the game! Taft was the first President to throw out the first ball of the baseball season.

On April 14, 1910, Taft threw a pitch to Walter Johnson, Opening Day pitcher for the Washington Senators. On April … [ Read all ]

The Greatest Athlete of the First Half of the Century

Jim Thorpe was stripped of his Olympic gold medals in 1913, but it was not because of illegal drugs, cheating, or bribery. It was because of baseball.

Thorpe was a Native American from Oklahoma. He went to the Sac and Fox Indian Agency school in Stroud, OK, but dropped out. Later he attended the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Carlisle, PA, where he was coached by “Pop” Warner, one of the most influential coaches of football history. But Thorpe’s skills went beyond football. He ran track and field and played lacrosse and baseball. In 1912, Thorpe led Carlisle to a 27–6 victory over Army, whose team included a young Dwight Eisenhower.

In 1912, Thorpe competed in the Summer Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden. He was part of both the decathlon and pentathlon teams. For the pentathlon, he competed in the long jump, javelin throw, 200-meter dash, discus throw, and 1500-meter run. In the decathlon, Thorpe earned 8,412 points and established a world record. Thorpe won gold medals in both events. When he returned home, there was a ticker-tape parade in his honor in New York City.

In addition to the track and field events in Stockholm, Thorpe also played some baseball in 1912. It was the first time baseball was included in the Olympics, and the exhibition game was played between the United States and host … [ Read all ]

Take me out to the ballgame (and then to court)

Today’s post is written by Kimberlee Ried, public programs specialist at the National Archives in Kansas City.

“Take me out to the ball game, take me out with the crowd . . .” 

These words, written by Jack Norworth and Albert Von Tilzer in 1908, are still heard every night at  baseball parks across America, usually during the seventh-inning stretch. Even in the midst of summer heat, fans watch their favorite baseball players throw another strike, hit a homerun, or catch a foul—always in the hopes of winning the game.

On Tuesday, July 10, the city of Kansas City, Missouri, will host the All-Star Game. This exhibition game is played by the best players in the league midway through the baseball season. But there’s another piece of baseball history at Kansas City: a patent court case found in the holdings of the National Archives at Kansas City.

Victor Sporting Goods Co. v. Rawlings Manufacturing Co. was filed in 1909 in the U.S. Circuit Court in St. Louis, Missouri. Victor was suing Rawlings over the patent rights for a catcher’s mitt—specifically how catchers achieved “pocket” in their mitts.

Victor Sporting Goods was founded by Charles Whitney and Elroy L. Rogers in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1898. Elroy and his brother Burt were the two inventors at Victor Sporting Goods, and they specialized in creating catcher’s mitts.… [ Read all ]

Four Patriots from Baseball’s Hall of Fame

Each January, as frost and snow cover baseball fields across America, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum provides heartwarming news for fans of our national pastime. This is the season when the Baseball Writers’ Association of America elects new members from the ranks of retired ballplayers.

When the Hall of Fame was first established in 1936, its inaugural class of inductees included legendary ballplayers Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, and Babe Ruth. These were four of the most talented stars of the early 20th century—a collection of hitters and pitchers worthy of Major League Baseball’s highest honor.

And while all four ballplayers are best known for their statistics and individual accomplishments, they also distinguished themselves for patriotic actions off the field.

As World War I drew to a close in 1918, both Ty Cobb and Christy Mathewson served in France as part of the Chemical Warfare Service. Commonly referred to as the “Gas and Flame Division,” the unit  combated the virulent effects of German gas attacks.

Throughout the final months of the war, the two ballplayers took part in several dangerous training exercises. “Men screamed . . . when they got a whiff of the sweet death in the air, they went crazy with fear,” Cobb recalled in his 1961 autobiography. The effects of chemical warfare took a particular toll on Mathewson, who died … [ Read all ]