Thursday, March 31, 2011

Rangers & MLB Opening Day Lagniappe and the Presidential Connection

During Rangers Manager Ron Washington's meeting with the media throng on Thursday, he made a statement that just about anyone who has any sort of passing interest in baseball can agree with.

"Opening day is one of the best days in baseball," he said following the statement with a patented, mile-wide Wash grin.

I've joked all week long that it should be a national holiday.  So many people play hookie from work to attend or just watch games.  A couple of my friends' companies shut down their offices and take their staff to the ballpark to take in the game.  I know two such companies that will be in Arlington, tailgating well before the Rangers 3:05 scheduled first pitch against the Red Sox on Friday.

New Rangers video board
The Rangers record on opening day is 22-28, dating back to 1961 when they were originally the Washington Senators.  President John F. Kennedy threw out the first pitch as the Senators lost to the White Sox in the franchise's first game.  Texas has won their last two opening day games, doing so in dramatic come-from-behind fashion in 2010 against the Blue Jays.

Sure, opening day is fun.  It celebrates all the pomp and circumstance of America's pastime.  In reality, it's more for the fringe fans.  I liken it to New Year's Eve, which I call "amateur night".  It seems like THE game that people who rarely (or never) attend any baseball games make the effort to get to opening day.  I'm not hatin' on it, I'm just sayin'....

I was looking up some information for a story and stumbled across an article in the Atlanic about presidential connections with opening day.  It's an interesting read.  Who knew that William Howard Taft was the first president to throw out the first pitch at a game in Washington in 1910?

And did you know that every president since Taft  has thrown out at least one ceremonial first pitch while in office, except for one?  Can you guess who it is?  That would be....Jimmy Carter.

For the record, President Obama did not throw out a first pitch prior to Thursday's Nationals/Braves game.  A group of three generals and two admirals, each representing a branch of the U.S. military, threw out the first pitch instead.