History Shows Obama’s First Pitch Won't Help the Nationals

Only one president has opened the season for eventual World Series winner.

By + More

By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers

President Obama gets a chance at baseball history today, but history and the odds are stacked against the chances he'll be throwing out today's opening pitch at the home of the eventual World Series winner later this year, the Washington Nationals.

That's because only one president, Calvin Coolidge, has ever done that when he tossed the opening pitch to start the in 1924 Washington Senators-Philadelphia Athletics game. Later that year, the Senators went on to win the World Series, beating the New York Giants in seven games.

Since former President William Taft in 1910 threw the first pitch in a baseball opener, 15 other presidents have tossed the opening pitch compiling a record of 32-29 for the home team. Only Taft (1910), Woodrow Wilson (1913, 1915, 1916), and Gerald Ford (1976) have all wins for the home team. Lyndon Johnson (1964, 1965, 1967) and Ronald Reagan (1984, 1986) saw the home teams lose every time.

The statistics show that most presidents split. Franklin Roosevelt for example threw out opening day pitches over eight years and compiled a 4-4 record.

When it comes to the World Series and presidents, what is more likely is that the away team goes on to win the big show. That's happened in Washington eight times with five presidents (Taft 1910), Herbert Hoover (1929), FDR (1936, 1941), Harry Truman (1947, 1951), and Dwight Eisenhower (1953, 1956). The last occurred in 1956, when Ike threw out the first pitch at the opener in Washington between the Senators and Yankees. That year Casey Stengel's Yanks beat the Brooklyn Dodgers in seven games to win the world championship.

Now Obama, while invited to attend four games as president, only went to last year's All-Star Game in St. Louis, tossing out the first pitch. The American League won. The appearance of the White Sox fan was most notable for the good-natured criticism he took for wearing "mom jeans."

With the help of information in at www.baseball-almanac.com, here's the win-loss record for home teams when the prez threw the opening day pitch.

William Taft: 1-0
Woodrow Wilson: 3-0
Warren Harding: 2-1
Calvin Coolidge: 3-1
Herbert Hoover: 1-3
Franklin Roosevelt: 4-4
Harry Truman: 3-4
Dwight Eisenhower: 4-3
John F. Kennedy: 1-2
Lyndon Johnson: 0-3
Richard Nixon: 1-1
Gerald Ford: 1-0
Ronald Reagan: 0-2
George H.W. Bush: 3-1
Bill Clinton: 3-2
George W. Bush: 2-2

  • See photos of the Obamas behind the scenes.
  • See a slide show of Obama's 5 best cabinet secretaries.