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Grace Coolidge
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