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Apr 20

President Truman Greeted by Boo-Birds

President Harry Truman preparing to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at a game between the Washington Senators and New York Yankees on Opening Day, 1951. (Abbie Rowe/National Park Service)

On this day in 1951 the Washington Senators invited Harry S. Truman the 33rd President of the United States of America to throw out the first pitch at the team’s home opener on April 20, 1951. The President who is baseball fan accepts the invitation.

The President must have been aware that he may not get a gracious welcome from the fans at Griffith Stadium. That is because nine days before the Senators home opener Truman fired General Douglas MacArthur from his post as Commander of the Far East. At the time, General MacArthur was probably the most popular person in the United States.

It was reported the crowd of 15,000 at Griffith Stadium booed Truman loudly. The Air Force Band tried to drown out the jeers with “Ruffles and Flourishes” and “Hail to the Chief.”

After President Truman threw out the first pitch, it did not take long for the fans go from booing to cheering as the home town Senators beat the New York Yankees 5-3 in the first game of the scheduled doubleheader. The Senators went onto to beat the Yanks again in game two by the score of 8-4. The sweep of the Yankees gave the Senators a 4-0 record and a half game lead in the American League over the 3-0 Cleveland Indians and the Chicago White Sox.