Among other baseball achievements, Ted Williams once managed the Washington Senators. And given the address of his home office, and the propensity to speak his mind, the Splendid Splinter was not shy about expressing his opinion of oft-maligned former President Herbert Hoover, he of Great Depression infamy.
“Not Lincoln, Washington, Alexander Graham Bell, Julius Caesar, Napoleon, Attila the Hun. Not Jefferson, Wilson, Churchill, not even FDR, but Herbert Hoover by God, Hoover. Every cure of the Depression was thought up by Hoover,” Williams once said. “Here is a man who is blamed for things that were not his fault, yet he never complained, and continued to help his country for the rest of his life. To me, that’s a real man.”
And, now, for the Washington Nationals, a real mascot.
Hoover made his “President’s Race” debut on Sunday at Nationals Park, taking his place along noted race stalwarts George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft.
And while Babe Ruth might have declared he was having a better year than Hoover in 1930, no one is having a better 2016 than the 31st President, who won his debut race during the game against the Miami Marlins.
Hoover’s presence along the starter’s line is just for this season, replacing Calvin Coolidge as the “visiting racing president.” The Nationals selected Hoover for the honor because the Nationals are partners with the White House Historical Association, and Hoover is the president chosen for this year’s WHHA Christmas Ornament. Coolidge was the 2015 ornament and visiting racer selection. Word on Capitol Hill is that Hoover will also be the presidential racer bobblehead pick on July 3.
According to the WHHA, Hoover played for Stanford University’s baseball team and later became manager. His management style failed him in the late 1920s as president, as the Great Depression struck the nation on his watch in 1929, Williams’ defense notwithstanding. Hoover attended nine Major League games as president, including three World Series games. He threw out six first pitches and offered this enduring quote:
“Next to religion, baseball has furnished a greater impact on American life than any other institution.”
Herbert Hoover throwing out first pitch at Griffith Stadium, April 14, 1931. He threw out the first pitch on four Opening Days, and the Sens were 1-3 in those games.