Monday, October 3, 2011

Woodrow Wilson's Opening Pitch


In October of 1917, less than half a year after the United States entered World War I, the White Sox faced the Giants in the World Series. Chicago topped New York in six games. The cover of the Giants' World Series program featured an image of President Woodrow Wilson, ball in hand, accompanied by the caption:

PRESIDENT WILSON THROWING OUT BALL AT THE OPENING OF THE
AMERICAN LEAGUE SEASON AT WASHINGTON.

A BIG ENOUGH BOY TO ENJOY THE NATIONAL
GAME - AND - A MAN BIG ENOUGH TO GUIDE
OUR COUNTRY THROUGH ITS GREATEST CRISIS.
Here's an image of that World Series program:

Yes, that's President Wilson throwing out the ceremonial first pitch in Washington, D.C. … but not in 1917, as implied. Actually, as noted in The Washington Post of April 21, 1917, "Vice President Marshall took President Wilson's place in the Throw-out-League. With the President unable to be present on opening day, for the first time since he has been lead-off man for Uncle Sam, because of the pressure of state affairs, his understudy threw out the ball at 3 o'clock …." It is understandable that President Wilson was unavailable for the ceremonial pitch, as it was just two weeks since the country had declared war on Germany.

Accompanying the article was this image of the Vice President taking part in the honors on opening day at Griffith Stadium, April 20, 1917:



The photo upon which the 1917 program was based was actually taken exactly one year earlier. Here's an image of President Wilson at opening day of 1916 as reproduced in The Washington Post of April 21:



Note how the flag draped over the wall is identical to that seen in the World Series program cover, and the position (and hat) of his wife Edith (just to the left of Wilson) also match up well.. Additionally, here's the exact image used for the 1917 World Series program as found at the Library of Congress, with the caption "Opening game 1916":


Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, LC-DIG-ppmsca-18475

The cover of the program is a classic … even if it was a year out of date.

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