Presidential First Pitches, Part II: LBJ to Obama

Last week we took a hard-throwing look at presidential first pitches beginning with William Howard Taft (1910) and ending with JFK (1963). The Washington Senators were beneficiaries of those POTUS pitches and had a 25-17 record when the Chief Executive threw out the first ball. We’ll look this week at how our modern presidents have done from the stands, and beginning with Reagan, from the mound.

Note: After 1969 the Washington Senators moved to Texas to become the Rangers. No teams played in DC until 2005. All home teams will be listed second.

Johnson, Throws: Right, Career: 0-3
1964 - Angels 9, Senators 0 - Opening day 1-hitter by the Angels’ Ken McBride and Julio Navarro
1965 - Red Sox 7, Senators 2
1967 - Indians 5, Senators 2

Nixon, Throws: Right, Career: 1-1
1969 - Yankees 8, Senators 4 - Last presidential first pitch in DC for nearly forty years
1973 - KC Athletics 2, California Angels 3 - Nixon, a California native, throws out the first West Coast POTUS pitch. Nolan Ryan strikes out 12 A’s.

Nixon resigned in the summer of 1974 due to Watergate

Ford, Throws: Right, Career: 1-0
1976 - Twins 1, Rangers 2 - Game features Gaylord Perry versus Bert Blyleven

Carter, Throws: Right, Career: n/a
Carter never threw out a first pitch during a regular season game. He did throw out the first pitch for game 7 of the 1979 World Series but we’ll look at that next week. (I do believe Reagan could have also won the 1980 election with the slogan: “Carter never threw out a pitch on Opening Day.”)

Reagan, Throws: Right, Career: 1-2
1984 - White Sox 5, Orioles 2
1985 - Indians 5, Orioles 4
1988 - Pirates 0, Cubs 6 - Reagan, who did Cubs play-by-play in the 1930s, throws out the first Opening Day POTUS pitch in the National League.

Bush I, Throws: Left, Career: 3-1
1989 - Red Sox 4, Orioles 5
1990 - Rangers 1, Blue Jays 2 - The first POTUS pitch thrown outside the U.S.
1991 - Brewers 4, Rangers 5 - President Bush had a good relationship with one of the Rangers’ owners…George W. Bush
1992 - Indians 0, Orioles 2 - The first game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards

Note: George H.W. Bush played first base while at Yale, which explains his awesome mitt in the photoset.

Clinton, Throws: Left, Career: 2-3
1993 - Rangers 4, Orioles 7
1994 - Mariners 3, Indians 4 - The first game at Jacobs’ Field (aka Progressive Field)
1996 - Royals 4, Orioles 2
1997 - Giants 5, Mets 1; Giants 7, Mets 2 - 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier
2000 - Dodgers 6, Giants 5

Bush II, Throws: Right, Career: 4-1
2001 - Reds 4, Brewers 5 - The first game at Miller Park
2004 - Brewers 8, Cardinals 6
2005 - Diamondbacks 5, Nationals 3 - The first game in Washington, DC in 36 years
2006 - Cubs 16, Reds 7
2008 - Braves 3, Nationals 2

Obama, Throws: Left, Career: 0-1
2010 - Phillies 11, Nationals 1

POTUS Record 1964-2011: 11-12
POTUS Record 1910-1963: 25-17

POTUS Record 1910-2011: 36-29

With a .554 winning percentage, which equals 90 wins over a full season, it’s clear that it generally benefits a team to have the Commander-in-Chief throwing out that first pitch. Although your best bet is to score Woodrow Wilson (4-0) or George W. Bush (4-1).

List of presidential first pitches courtesy of baseball.about.com. Scores and boxscores available from the amazing www.retrosheet.org.

Next week: The POTUS in the Playoffs

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    best form award goes to lbj and george w
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