Fact Checked

Which US President Popularized Baseball’s “Seventh Inning Stretch”?

Baseball is filled with legends and lore, and one of the biggest – literally – involved President William Howard Taft and the seventh-inning stretch. According to the stories, Taft was sitting on a hard wooden bench in the stands of Griffith Stadium in Washington, D.C. to take in a game between the Washington Senators and the Philadelphia Athletics on April 14, 1910.

Taft, famed for his 6-foot-2-inch frame that carried more than 300 pounds, apparently grew uncomfortable and stood in the middle of the seventh inning. Being the respectful fans that baseball used to have, the crowd stood with him, and thus the seventh-inning stretch was born. While it was true that fans regularly stood and stretched during games previously, it didn't become a tradition until Taft accidentally instituted it. Earlier in the game, Taft had thrown out the first pitch, but that was already a presidential tradition.

U.S. presidents at the ballgame:

  • With 16 games under his belt while in office, Harry S. Truman holds the record for most baseball games taken in by a sitting U.S. president.

  • When the Washington Senators won their first American League pennant in 1924, President Calvin Coolidge addressed the team from the White House lawn as 100,000 fans looked on.

  • In 1866, President Andrew Johnson became the firs president to attend a professional baseball game, as the Brooklyn Excelsiors beat the National Baseball Club of Washington, 33-28.

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