First pitch ceremony in baseball has become a tradition since President Howard Taft threw out the first pitch in 1910.
The first pitch in a baseball game obviously begins the playing of the game. The umpire according to the rule book calls “Play Ball” the pitcher throws the first pitch and the game is under way. It has become a tradition that the president or some dignitary throw out the first pitch on opening day of the baseball season. In many MLB baseball games there is a first pitch ceremony. Usually an honored guest will throw out the first ball from the stands. Many years in the past the president of the United States would throw out the first pitch as a tradition in Baseball America’s Favorite Pastime. The first pitch from the grandstand was traditional until President Ronald Reagan threw the first pitch from pitcher’s mound in the 1980’s. The very first ceremonial first pitch was thrown into a baseball game in Japan by Prime Minister Okuma Shigenobu Koshien in 1908.
PRIME MINISTER OF JAPAN
OKUMA SHIGENOBU KOSHIEN
President Howard Taft threw out the first ball in 1910 and presidents since then have continued the tradition. Taft threw out the pitch in 1910 in Griffin Stadium in Washington DC on April 14 as the Washington National hosted the Philadelphia Athletics in an American League Game. The following year 1911 Taft repeated his performance however in 1912 Vice-President James Sherman had the honors as Taft lost his best friend Archibald Butt and he was dealing with the Titanic disaster.
President Woodrow Wilson continued in 1913 and 1915 and also threw out the first pitch in the 1915 World Series at the Baker Bowl.
Warren G. Harding had the honors in 1921, 22, and 23 in DC but in 1923 had the honors in Yankee Stadium two days prior. President Calvin Coolidge attended opening days in 1924 through 1928 and attended the 1925 World Series with the honor. Herbert Hoover was one of the most active presidents to attend opening day from 1929 until 1932 and opened Griffin Stadium and attended the 1929 Series.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt served four terms as president and has the distinction of attending the most opening day first pitch ceremonies. From 1933 to 1941 FDR attended most. In 1941 as he threw out the first pitch he hit a Washington Post Camera. He also attended the 1937 All-Star Game. FDR’s was followed by Harry S. Truman who continued the tradition for several years until 1952.
In 1953 newly elected president Dwight D. Eisenhower chose to play golf at Augusta National and skipped opening day however the game was rained out and rescheduled and the president attended he also was at the 1955 World Series. Vice-President Richard Nixon was the second VP in 1959 to fill in for the president.
John F Kennedy attended all the opening day ceremonies of his three years in office and in 1962 opened DC Stadium. Lyndon Johnson was there from 1964 through 1967. Richard Nixon attended the 1970 All-Star Game and in 1973 was at Anaheim Stadium in California as the first pitch outside of DC was thrown.
MANY PRESIDENT HAVE THROWN IN THE FIRST PITCH AND IT HAS BECOME AN AMERICAN TRADITION