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Presidents and the first pitch

We’re about a month into the 2012 Major League Baseball season, which has been as disappointing so far as my beloved Red Sox (yes, the rumors are true…this die-hard Knicks fan and NYC fanboy bleeds the same red that Curt Schilling gave during our historic World Series run). My boys are sitting not-so-pretty in last place in their division. That annoyance aside, the start of another baseball season means yet another year of witnessing various VIPs, celebrities, and honored guests demonstrating their inability to properly throw a baseball 60 feet (Exhibit A). Presidents are also a part of this sports ritual. It started in 1910 when a paunchy William Howard Taft tossed out a ceremonial first pitch from the stands on the Washington Senators’ Opening Day (ceremonial first pitches were not originally tossed from the mound). The headline in the Washington Post the next day was, “TAFT TOSSES BALL. Crowd Cheers President’s Fine Delivery of the Sphere.” This might be the classiest headline ever written for a sports game.

With that “fine delivery of the sphere,” Taft began a tradition that continues to this day. Since 1910 every president has now thrown at least one ceremonial first throw at a professional baseball game (typically on Opening Day, at the All Star game or during the World Series) while in office. President Obama has done this twice, first at the 2009 All Star Game and again on Opening Day of the 2010 season. Here’s President Obama discussing throwing out the first pitch. Being the athlete that he is, President Obama’s toss was solid, however his sartorial decision to wear “mom jeans” (with a crease!) at the All Star Game created a buzz around the blogosphere watercooler the next day.

That said, when you think about it President Obama could probably beat any of the world leaders in a game of one-on-one on the basketball court (he would DESTROY Sarkozy) or in a game of HORSE. However, the ceremonial toss doesn’t always have to have presidential gravitas. Check out this video of the scary long, black-haired demon from THE RING toss the first pitch at this Japanese baseball game. Pretty awesome…until she comes crawling out through your computer screen!

To see more photos of past presidents throwing out the first pitch check out this photo gallery and this one.