There are several recurring Baltimore Orioles’ columns that I write every year. This one that I’ve made a point of penning every President’s Day is by far my favorite. Please note folks, there’s nothing that I’m writing here which is meant to be political. This column is about America’s Chief Executives playing a special role in her favorite sport – and nothing else.
President William Howard Taft began the tradition on Opening Day in 1910 at National Park in Washington DC. Since then, every sitting President (through Obama) and quite a few former Presidents have partaken in the event. It’s usually on Opening Day, however Presidents have also thrown out the first pitch in other games as well – such as President Jimmy Carter doing the honors at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore during the 1979 World Series.
Make no mistake, there’s no other tradition in sports like this. And I would submit that having President throw out the first pitch on Opening Day is about as special as anything. This past year America lost perhaps one of her most beloved former Presidents in George H.W. Bush. President Bush of course was a war hero turned politician, and a former first baseman at Yale to boot!
President Bush’s first turn at throwing out the first pitch was the year he entered office, 1989. He made the trek up the pike to do the honors at Memorial Stadium that April. He would return to Baltimore for Opening Day in 1992, when of course the Orioles opened Oriole Park at Camden Yards. President Bush’s first pitch wound up in the dirt, and he later said that he meant to throw a low-and-away slider.
President Bush also became the first and only sitting U.S. President (to date) to toss out the first pitch on foreign soil. He threw out the first pitch at Toronto’s Skydome in 1990. He had also traveled to Arlington, TX to do the honors for the Texas Rangers the following year. President Bush reprieved his duties of throwing out the first ball in 2003 in Cincinnati, and in 2015 in the ALDS in Houston.
So President George H.W. Bush is the answer to a trivia question. Who threw out the first pitch on Opening Day at Camden Yards in 1992? President Bill Clinton also did the honors a few times in Baltimore, but the 1990’s was the last time that a sitting President threw out the first ball in Baltimore. Presumably, that has a lot to do with MLB returning to Washington in 2005.
Which brings me to my final point. I always close this column in the same manner. Regardless of politics, popularity, or anything else, I think that the President should open the baseball season every year by throwing out the first pitch on Opening Day in Washington, D.C. Every President, every year. I hope you’re listening, President Trump!