President Donald Trump rejected the Washington Nationals’ invitation to have him throw out the first pitch at the team’s home opener on April 3, citing a “scheduling conflict.”
The tradition dates back to 1910 when Howard Taft did a favor to then-American League president Ban Johnson by throwing out the first pitch for the Washington Senators as a way to boost attendance. Since then, the list of ceremonial first pitches is long.
Presidential First Pitches
|1910, 1911||Howard Taft||None|
|1933-1941||Franklin D. Roosevelt||One (1939)|
|1953-1960||Dwight Eisenhower||Two (1957,1959)|
|1961-1963||John F. Kennedy||None|
|1969, 1973||Richard Nixon||Five (1968,1970,1971,1972,1974)|
|1976||Gerald Ford||One (1975)|
|1984, 88||Ronald Regan||Six (1981,1982,1983,1985,1986,1987)|
|1989-92||George H.W. Bush||None|
|1993, 94, 96, 97, 2000||Bill Clinton||Three (1995,1998,1999)|
|2001, 2003-08||George W. Bush||One (2002)|
|2010||Barack Obama||Seven (2009,2011,2012,2013,2014,2015,2016)|
Skipping the first pitch isn’t anything new. A lot of presidents did, especially when they started slacking in the 1970s. Presidents have declined 26 times in the 107 years since Taft threw out the first pitch, meaning that actually seeing the first pitch thrown by the president happens just 75.8 percent of seasons. George W. Bush was the only president since FDR to throw out the pitch in the majority of his years in office.
It’s understandable why a president might want to skip the first pitch. It’s a stressful moment where nonathletic people need to pretend they’re athletic in front of thousands of people. Obama explained the pressure last year.
"We do a lot of tough stuff as president. And by definition you don’t end up being president if you don’t handle stress well. [But] nothing is more stressful than throwing a first pitch,"
George W. Bush was pretty decent at throwing out first pitches.
Obama’s pitch in 2010 was very bad.
However, nobody comes close to Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1940 when it comes to bad presidential first pitches. There isn’t video or photographic evidence of the pitch, but it was so wild it hit a photographer from The Washington Post and damaged his camera.
Despite presidents skipping the first pitch being as much of a modern tradition as them actually throwing the ball, people are upset.
Trust me I'm pro Trump, but really?? Why isn't he throwing the first pitch for the Nationals? That pisses me off— angel (@Itsangelguys1) March 30, 2017
When the Nationals called to ask Trump to throw out first pitch, an American tradition,he must of thought they said Tax returns! #trumppitch— Greg Lage (@TheLagestweets) March 30, 2017
Trump isn't throwing out the first pitch for this baseball season, proving he's unamerican.— this guy (@Jimmy_JamJames) March 30, 2017
The ceremonial first pitch isn’t really a 100-year-old tradition, even if it feels like one. Some presidents throw out the pitch regularly, others don’t — and it didn’t have some deep-rooted symbolic meaning in the American psyche: It was to boost attendance when baseball was struggling.
That said, we could be seeing a lot more of these on opening day.
Opening day is just around the corner... pic.twitter.com/t72gowWdcJ— Michael De Soto (@michaeldesoto) March 29, 2017