Apr 14

William H. Taft starts new tradition

President Taft throws the first pitch, opening day at National Stadium, 1910. Library of Congress

President Taft throws the first pitch, opening day at National Stadium, 1910. Library of Congress

Many great baseball traditions started here in the Nation’s Capital. One of the most famous of these traditions is throwing out the first pitch on opening day by the President of the United States.

On April 14, 1910, William H. Taft started the tradition after umpire Billy Evans handed him the baseball. To the joy of the fans, President Taft threw the ball to Walter Johnson. The Big Train goes on to pitch a one-hitter and one of his 110 career shutouts.

The tradition of throwing out the first pitch has been done at least once during every presidency, except for President Jimmy Carter.

As I was doing research on this event I found out that this tradition almost did not happen. Just a few weeks before attending the game between the Washington Senators and the Philadelphia Athletics, the car President Taft was traveling in was in a bad collision in New York City. The car was hit by a trolley car and dragged a half of block on 8th Avenue. The article went on to say that no one was seriously injured but the President was a bit shaken.