Thursday, December 18, 2008
Picture Of The Day--The American Game
In the earlier days of The Presidential Opener in Washington, DC, The President of The United States tossed the ceremonial first pitch from his box seat, usually located along the first base line at Old Griffith Stadium. And to make matters even more interesting, players from both teams--The Washington Senators and their Opponent--jumped for the thrown pitch. The winning retriever then getting the opportunity to meet The President of The United States and having the souvenir baseball personally signed as a personal memento.
This 1946 Opening Day toss by President Harry Truman to The Senators and Boston Red Sox is significant for a variety of reasons. None bigger than the very fact that April 16th, 1946 marked the first full Major League Baseball Season since the end of World War II. American Soldiers (and therefore Major League Players) had begun to return stateside. And many baseball fans returned to Big League Parks in droves--to see the games and the players they loved--once again.
In fact, these '46 Senators, despite finishing that year in 4th place in The American League and 20 games below .500, still attracted over 1 Million Fans to their Old Ballyard, then located on the current site of Howard University Hospital. A significant number in those days. And still, Washington finished 5th in attendance that season. The Baseball Park was again the place to be in 1946.
Even more interestingly, the 1,027,216 Fans that walked through the turnstiles at Old Griffith Stadium that year would mark THE VERY LAST SEASON any Washington Baseball Team would draw 1 Million Fans--until The Inaugural Season of Our Washington Nationals in 2005 (Sad, but true).
Finally, President Truman's First Pitch would be recorded as the The First Opening Day Toss By A Lefthander. Truman was a southpaw.
Yes, In 1946, baseball was back in all it's glory. Once Again, The American Game.
Photo by Marie Hansen, Copyright: Time Magazine and Time, Inc.