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Calvin Coolidge Throws out the First Ball While Grace Coolidge Enjoys a Good Laugh
Baseball is as American as the presidency itself (although
the reverse cannot always be said), and many a ball fan
has occupied the White House.

Surprisingly, the greatest White House baseball enthusiast
of all time was not to be found among our chief executives
but rather among our first ladies.

The spouse in question is Grace Goodhue Coolidge, the
charmingly effervescent wife of dour Silent Cal. Known for
decades as "The First Lady of Baseball," she was a fixture
at Opening Days, the World Series, ordinary games at
Fenway (and in her era there were many "ordinary" games
at said park), and camped in front of her radio at home

tuned to any game within broadcast range.

"I venture to say," she wrote to a close friend in the 1950s,
"that not one of you cares a hoot about baseball but to me
it is my very life"—and she meant it.

But first a bit about her husband. Calvin wasn't exactly a fan
himself, being unathletic and tightly focused on law and
government. True, in his childhood he noted that  "my ball
game often interfered with my filling of the wood box. I have
been taken out of bed to do penance for such derelictions."

But by the time he had reached Ludlow, Vermont's Black
River Academy he was fast becoming blasé concerning the
National Pastime. "Games did not interest me much though I
had some skill with a bat," he recalled. Regarding his
Amherst years, he noted that while the school "won its
share of trophies on the diamond . . . In those events I was
only I was only an observer . . ." On the eve of the 1990
American League playoffs his son John (a loyal if somewhat
skeptical Red Sox fan) recalled that as for playing ball with
his father, he would have "nothing more than a catch. He
[Calvin] was not at all athletically inclined."

Silent Cal

But Grace was Cal's direct opposite in baseball as in so
many other fields. There is some controversy over when—
and why—Grace Coolidge acquired such an abiding
interest in the game. Some say she was so smitten from her
youth, and was a scorekeeper at the University of Vermont.
If that is the case she may have been presumed to have
been a fan of Northampton's ill-fated Connecticut State
League team, the Meadowlarks, when her husband was
mayor of that city. No record of such an interest exists,
however.

Others hold that she turned to the national pastime to salve
the grief resulting from son Calvin Jr.'s tragic death in July,
1924. John Coolidge has clarified matters: "I don't think she
was interested in baseball at all when my father was
Governor of Massachusetts. A friend of the family would
take [brother] Cal and me to Fenway. My mother and father
never went. If her interest came from the time of Cal's
death, it was purely coincidental. It was only after they got
into the White house that she became interested. There
was no interest when my father was vice-president."
Grace Coolidge:
First Lady of Baseball
by David Pietrusza

“Coolidge Luck,” so its no
great surprise to note that
the normally hapless
Washington Senators won
two of their three pennants
while Cal resided on the
Potomac.

When in 1924 the Senators
captured their first pennant
and returned home they
were met by a huge throng
of fans—led by none other
than Cal himself. He was
positively voluble.

“As the head of an
enterprise which transacts
some business and
maintains a considerable
staff in this town,” he told the
crowd, “I have a double
satisfaction in welcoming
home the victorious
Washington baseball team.
First, you bring the laurels
from one of the hardest-
fought contests in the history
of the national game.
Second, I feel hopeful that,
with the happy result now
assured, it will be possible
for the people of Washington
gradually to resume interest
in the ordinary concerns of
life.

"So long as we could be
satisfied with a prompt report
of the score by innings a
reasonable attention to
business was still possible.
but when the entire
population reached the point
of requiring the game to be
described play by play, I
began to doubt whether the
highest efficiency was being
promoted. I contemplated
action of a vigorously
disciplinary character, but
the outcome makes it
impossible. As a result, we
are a somewhat demoralized
community—but exceedingly
happy over it."

He concluded: "We pitch with
the pitchers, we go to bat
with the batters and we make
a home run with the hard
hitters. The training, the
energy, the intelligence
which these men lavish upon
their craft ought to be an
inspiration in every walk of
life. They are a great band,
these armored knights of the
bat and ball. They are held
up to a high standard of
honor on the field, which
they have seldom betrayed.

"While baseball remains our
national game, our national
tastes will be on a higher
level and our ideals on a
firmer foundation."
American League 1949 Pass Issued to Grace Coolidge