It was not, however, the first time that has happened.
President Herbert Hoover played baseball at Stanford and was said to have read the sports section before any other in the newspaper each morning, and he continued the tradition of throwing out the first pitch during Opening Day for the Washington Senators at Griffith Stadium. Hoover also made it to the World Series in 1929, 1930 and 1931, each time to watch the Athletics in Philadelphia.
As told by the White House Historical Association, Hoover’s final trip to Shibe Park in 1931 occurred during the worst of the Great Depression, yet Hoover felt the need to make an appearance at the game as “a gesture of reassurance to a country suffering from a severe attack of ‘jitters,’ ” he noted in his memoirs. Those jitters manifested themselves when Hoover got up to leave and was met with “a resounding chorus of boos … the president of the United States was accorded the bird, or razzberry,” according to an account in the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. Thirsty fans suffering through Prohibition also chanted “We want beer” at the president.
“Perhaps Philadelphia is tired of whiskey and gin,” Westbrook Pegler wrote in the Arkansas Gazette.
Nearly 20 years later, in 1951, President Harry S. Truman was jeered on Opening Day at Griffith Stadium in Washington, receiving “light scattered applause mixed with boos” as he entered the stadium ahead of the Senators-Yankees game, the New York Times wrote. Then, in the eighth inning, “the crowd booed lustily when an announcement came over the public address system requesting all persons to remain in their seats until President Truman and his official party had left the stadium.”
“It sounded more like the razzing that usually greets the appearance of Boston’s Ted Williams at the plate, however, than real anger,” The Post’s Murrey Marder observed in the paper’s front-page story.
The Washington Evening Star called it “the coldest reception ever given a Chief Executive at an opening ball game,” and one Truman probably saw coming: The game was the president’s first public event after he removed Douglas MacArthur as commander of United Nations forces in Korea and took place one day after MacArthur had given his “old soldiers never die; they just fade away” speech in front of a joint session of Congress. Truman’s removal of MacArthur was massively unpopular, with Sen. Robert A. Taft calling for immediate impeachment hearings and Truman’s approval rating falling to just 23 percent in the middle of the year, lower than Richard Nixon’s approval rating during Watergate.
Indeed, Marder noted that one woman called out “Where’s MacArthur?” as Truman said goodbye to Senators owner Clark Griffith.
“A member of the President’s party said he was not surprised that part of a baseball crowd, accustomed to expressing vigorous pleasure or displeasure, had booed in such circumstances,” he wrote.
Trump’s approval rating has not fluctuated much over his term, averaging out to about 39 percent since April 2017, according to Washington Post-ABC News polling.
Latter-era presidents have not been immune from razzing. President George H.W. Bush was booed when he was introduced at the 1992 All-Star Game in San Diego:
His son, George W. Bush, got the Bronx cheer when he threw out the first pitch at the first game at Nationals Park in 2008:
And there were a few boos when President Barack Obama threw out the first pitch at the 2009 All-Star Game in St. Louis:
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