“Presidents and the Pastime” by Curt Smith
This book is full of gems. Yes, it is a lengthy book and has some information in it not related to the presidents and how they relate to baseball but they have substance to them. Linking the Presidents and baseball is not a common thing to do but the author was a former presidential speechwriter.
The first president to attend a game at any level was Andrew Johnson and Benjamin Harrison became the first to go to a professional contest. There is an interesting story of Abraham Lincoln, who loved to play baseball and was readying to bat when a courier had an important message for him. Lincoln told him he had to wait until his at-bat was over. The message informed Lincoln he had been chosen to represent his party on the ballot for President.
There were a few presidents that didn’t care for baseball and preferred football. Also, it is likely fiction that states the seventh inning stretch originated with Taft. The author tells stories about Franklin Roosevelt and Commissioner Landis getting together along with Grace Coolidge being the bigger baseball fan than her husband.
The stories abound as the author interviewed presidents from Reagan to Trump. We have to remember the Bush Family owned a team, Obama not waning from his love of the Chicago White Sox, and Trump always wanting to own a team.
The book has stories on each president from John Adams to Donald Tru. There are lots of in-between baseball stories in this book. It is worth the read as a historical book and for the amount of baseball that is written.
Thanks to the University of Nebraska Press for sending a copy to me in exchange for an honest and fair book review.
About the Author:
Curt Smith is the author of seventeen books, including the classic history of baseball broadcasting, Voices of The Game. His other books include: Pull Up a Chair: The Vin Scully Story (Potomac Books, 2009), Mercy! A Celebration of Fenway Park’s Centennial (Potomac Books, 2012), and most recently, George H. W. Bush: Character at the Core(Potomac Books, 2014). Smith is a senior lecturer of English at the University of Rochester, a GateHouse Media columnist, and a contributor to publications from Newsweek to the New York Times. The host of the “Voices of The Game” series at the Smithsonian Institution and the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, he has been named to the Judson Welliver Society of former presidential speechwriters.