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Opening Day!

March 30, 2015

Baseball Opening Day TriviaThe new baseball season begins this week. Optimism runs high, but things can get weird. So in that spirit, we say, “Play ball!”

No Business Like Snow Business 

April brings thoughts of sunshine and flowers. But neither showed up at New York’s Polo Grounds on April 11, 1907, for the Giants’ home opener: A storm the previous day had buried the field under several inches of snow. When game time arrived, the groundskeepers had barely finished shoveling the snow off the field and into huge piles along the foul lines. From the first pitch, the Giants couldn’t get anything going against the Phillies. And with the home team down 3–0 in the late innings, their freezing fans grew restless. One man—noticing how convenient it was that the huge pile of snow was within reach of the front-row seats—made a snowball and threw it onto the field. Then another fan did, then another, and another. Soon it was a melee. Fans ran onto the field and pelted the players, umpires, and each other with snowballs. As most of the players retreated into their clubhouses (a few stayed out to throw snowballs), umpire Bill Klem was forced to call the game. The Giants had to forfeit the first game of the season, on their way to a fourth-place finish.

Paint the Town Red

Fans arrived at the first game of the Boston Braves’ 1946 season to find the outfield seats covered in a fresh new coat of red paint…that hadn’t completely dried yet. Immediately after the game, several hundred fans with new red stripes on their pants stormed into the team’s offices and demanded that the Braves pay their cleaning bills, which the team (eventually) did.

Presidential Style

The first U.S. president to attend an Opening Day game was William Howard Taft in 1911. Clark Griffith, the owner of the Washington Senators, wanted the publicity, and Taft, who weighed 300 lbs., wanted to prove to the country that he was fit enough to throw a ball. From his grandstand seat, Taft threw a weak pitch to the Senators’ star pitcher, Walter Johnson, but Johnson scooped up the ball before it hit the ground, saving the president from certain ridicule in the papers. Since then, every president except Jimmy Carter has thrown out a first pitch of the season. President Truman actually threw two first pitches on Opening Day, 1950—one with his right arm and the other with his left. Both were strikes.

For a lot more baseball, check out Uncle John’s Takes a Swing at Baseball

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