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.


WFY said...

I think the next year, Truman threw out the first pitch with his right hand.

Anonymous said...

We're going to have another southpaw next April, right? I think Obama's a southpaw!

I've got the idea that George Bush 41 might've been a southpaw too? Am I right? He would've thrown a pitch out at RFK, except there was no baseball here during his presidency. Many say he was the best athlete--and certainly the best baseball player--to occupy the White House.

Terrific picture and article SBF. This is OUR history!

Screech's Best Friend said...

WFY--I looked it up--you're right. Truman threw out Two First Pitches, one with each arm, to begin the 1950 Season at Griffith Stadium.

Screech's Best Friend said...

Oh yeah--it's also true--Bush 41 was definitely a southpaw. President-Elect Obama is also a southpaw. I would imagine he's going to throw a really decent toss to whomever is standing behind home plate on Opening Day. Our Washington Nationals have put out the word that they are very interested in Mr. Obama continuing the tradition in Washington.

I can't imagine him not doing the honor.

SenatorNat said...

Nats closing in on Teixiera, it would appear. Surmise that Kasten and team offering eight years at $20 per, plus options for two more at same amount: opt out for Tex after three years, too.

If so, not that big a gamble, really, since we are not burdened with any other potential dead wood contracts of any significance.

Also means that Boros tacitly committed to ensuring that his client Steven Strasburg sign with the Nats when they draft him, since it helps both his clients.

Nationals with Tex batting clean-up and a year under the belt of Milledge, Dukes, and Flores, presuming health, are demonstrably better team. Add Willingham to it, and they are going to hit .275 as a team with 100 more home-runs and 150 more RBI's than last year.

Presuming Milledge can improve in centerfield, it is a good to excellent fielding team, too.

Pitching, ironically, would be the potential problem - that is, can two-three of the young arms develop together. We can presume that Lannan and Olson can pitch adequately in the rotation. Then, question becomes: can Ballester, Ditweller, Zimmermann, even Bergmann, complete it?

And, the closer...Is Hanrahan ready to get it over the plate with sauce?

Cynics shall compare Tex coming to the Nats with ARod signing for $240 million with the pitcherless Rangers. But, it is hardly the same situation, since the Nats from the start have emphasized collecting young arms. The law of averages says that at least three of those arms, Strasburg included, shall pan out in 2009-11.

Consider this line-up on Opening Day:

1. Milledge CF
2. Guzman SS
3. Zimmerman 3B
$. Teixiera 1B
5. Dukes RF
6. Willingham LF
7. Flores C
8. Hernandez 2B
9. Lannan P

This is a team not too dissimilar from the TB Rays. It is already better than the Marlins in our division, and can play .500 should the team stay healthy. The bench with Harris, Kearns and Gonzolez and Nieves, etc. good for defensive replacements and get-away days.

Team needs to pick-up a PH & DH (interleague games)with power - perhaps Dimtri Young can fill that role...

Trust in the Magnificent Plan. All Bright.

Anonymous said...

I hope 44 comes out to the park and tosses out the first pitch. Another Sunday night in the national spotlight?

Anonymous said...

Surprises for 2009, if we get Tex:

Zimm, Dukes, and Flores all have breakout years.

We give up runs, but score even more.

We win the wild card.

Edward J. Cunningham said...

I hope 44 comes out to the park and tosses out the first pitch. Another Sunday night in the national spotlight?

Our pitching is so bad we're going to start using Lasting Milledge and he's going to be our Opening Day pitcher?

Anonymous said...

When I said "44" I was referring to the 44th president.

Edward J. Cunningham said...

Of course! Can't a guy make a joke?