In a time-honored tradition, Baseball fans rise from their seats between the top and bottom of the seventh inning to sing a hearty rendition of “ Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” (Original Lyrics below) Was this custom really started as a nod of respect to President William Howard Taft?
Rather than being remembered for his one-term presidency in the White House and for being the only man to serve as both President and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Taft is probably best known as the fattest man who ever served as Commander in Chief.
Indeed, Taft’s girth was impressive. It sometimes restricted his movements, especially when he attended Washington Senators baseball games, a pastime pursuit that was his preferred method of relaxation. After sitting through a few innings of action, Taft would extract himself from the compressed confines of his chair,stand and stretch, and waddle off to the men’s room. The denizens sitting near him would also rise, showing a measure of respect for their honored guest. This presidential pause for the cause was rumored to have occurred in the seventh inning break.
However, there’s no proof that the President was responsible for instituting or influencing the tradition. Taft attended many ball games, but he rarely stayed as late as the seventh inning. It’s been said he had more pressing matters on his home plate, running the country for instance.
On April 14th, 1910, Taft became the first president to toss the first pitch on opening day of the season. This convention has since been followed by every chief executive, with the exception of Jimmy Carter– an ironic twist when one considers the relationship between Carter, peanuts, and baseball.
Take me out to the ball game, Take me out with the crowd
Buy me some peanuts and crackerjacks, I don’t care if I never get back
Let me root, root, root For the home team
If they don’t win it’s a shame
Aahh. For it’s one, Two, Three strikes you’re out
At the old ball game
All I need is just one chance, I could hit a home run
There isn’t anyone else like me, Maybe I’ll go down in history
And it’s root, root, root For the home team
Here comes fortune and fame
‘Cause I know That I’ll be the star
At the old Ball Game
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