Now that Easter Sunday has come and gone, we can turn our full, undivided attention to that great American sport: Baseball.
And with the official start of the baseball season, who isn’t thrilled to revel in the drama and excitement of the American summer? Sure, maybe you’re not a fan of baseball, but there’s a reason it’s often referred to as our nation’s pastime.
From the poorest kid in the poorest neighborhood to the President of the United States, millions of Americans have for over a century lovingly embraced the game.
Why? Maybe because it offers mystery, tradition, and beauty.
“It weighs just over five ounces and measures between 2.86 and 2.94 inches in diameter. It is made of a composition-cork nucleus encased in two thin layers of rubber, one black and one red,” writes famed essayist Roger Angell in his 1976 book “Five Seasons.”
“Any baseball is beautiful. No other small package comes as close to the ideal in design and utility,” he continues. “Its feel and heft are the beginning of the sport’s critical dimensions; if it were a fraction of an inch larger or smaller, a few centigrams heavier or lighter, the game of baseball would be utterly different.
“Hold a baseball in your hand. Feel the ball, turn it over in your hand; hold it across the seam or just to the side of your middle finger. Speculation stirs. You want to get outdoors and throw this spare and sensual object to somebody or, at the very least, watch somebody else throw it. The game has begun”.
So grab a bag of peanuts and a frosty malt and enjoy the following collection of U.S. presidents throwing out the ceremonial first pitch:
18. President William Howard Taft
When President Taft lobbed a baseball from the stands in Griffith Stadium in 1910, he started a presidential tradition. (Photo: Courtesy of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.)
17. President Woodrow Wilson
President Woodrow Wilson throwing out the ceremonial first pitch in 1916. (Library of Congress.)
16. President Warren G. Harding
President Harding throws out the first ball to open the Washington Senators’ baseball season in 1921. Harding never missed an opener during his term as president. (Photo by AP.)
15. President Calvin Coolidge
30th President of the United States Calvin Coolidge gets set to throw out the first pitch of the 1924 World Series (Photo by AP.)
14. President Herbert Hoover
A photograph taken during the 1930′s shows President Herbert Hoover pitching a baseball. President Hoover was often showered with boos. (Picture: Getty.)
13. President Franklin D. Roosevelt
FDR holds the record for most opening day pitches thrown. He opened eight seasons between 1933 and 1941. This photo shows him throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at Griffith Stadium in Washington before Game 3 of baseball’s World Series on Oct. 5, 1933. (Photo by AP.)
12. President Harry Truman
President Harry Truman follows through with the first pitch of the baseball season on April 18, 1949, before the Washington Senators took the field for their opening game. (Photo by AP.)
11. President Dwight D. Eisenhower
In April of 1957 President Eisenhower throws out the first pitch at opening day baseball game as Managers Chuck Dressen (Washington) and Paul Richards (Orioles) watch. (Robert F. Kniesche/Baltimore Sun.)
10. President John F. Kennedy
U.S. President John F. Kennedy, seated next to Vice President Lyndon Johnson, throws the first pitch of the 1961 season prior to the start of the Senators-White Sox game at Griffith Stadium. President Kennedy never missed an opener during his presidency. (Neil Leifer/SI).
9. President Lyndon B. Johnson
President Lyndon B. Johnson lets go of the pitch that officially opens the American League baseball season, April 13, 1964. The Los Angeles Angels defeated the Washington Senators 4-0 in the opener. (Photo by AP.)
8. President Richard Nixon
President Richard Nixon throws out the first pitch at the 1970 All-Star Game (the first Midsummer Classic played at night) on July 14 at Cincinnati’s Riverfront Stadium. Mets manager Gil Hodges is at right, just below baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn. (Getty Images).
7. President Gerald Ford
President Gerald Ford throws out the first pitch before the 1976 All-Star Game at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia. (Getty Images).
6. President Jimmy Carter
Two years after leaving office, former president Jimmy Carter throws out the first pitch April 8, 1983, before the Atlanta Braves opened the season against the Padres at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. He’s the only president since the tradition was started by Taft to not open baseball season with a ceremonial first pitch. (Photo by AP.)
5. President Ronald Reagan
President Ronald Reagan throws out the ceremonial first pitch at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Ill., Sept. 30, 1988. The president later went to the broadcast booth and helped announce the first part of the game. (AP Photo).
4. President George H. W. Bush
President George H.W. Bush throws out the first pitch April 3, 1989, to mark the start of the baseball season at Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium before the Orioles faced the Boston Red Sox. (AP photo).
3. President Bill Clinton
President Bill Clinton throws out the first pitch April 5, 1993, at Camden Yards before the Baltimore Orioles opened the season against the Texas Rangers. (AP photo).
2. President George W. Bush
President George W. Bush responds to the Yankee Stadium crowd Oct. 30, 2001, as he prepared to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before Game 3 of the World Series between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the New York Yankees. (Getty Images).
1. President Barack Obama
U.S. President Barack Obama throws out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the Opening Day game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park in this April 5, 2010 file photo in Washington, DC. (Getty Images)
Bonus: Do They Still Play the Blues In Chicago?
Enjoy Steve Goodman’s tale of a dying Chicago Cubs fan’s last request to his friends: