Facial Hair Friday: Opening Day Mustache

Opening Day of the 2013 Baseball Season is this Sunday! What better way to celebrate than to crack open some peanuts, download our free eBook “Baseball: The National Pastime in the National Archives,” and grow a luxuriant mustache in honor of President Taft.

Taft is the newest addition to the Nationals Racing Presidents.The 27th President is well-known for his size and his bushy white mustache. He was the last President to sport facial hair while in office.

Did his luxuriant mustache give him an edge in the search for a new mascot? Of the five Presidents represented, facial hair adorns three of their outsized noggins.  Lincoln has a beard, Teddy Roosevelt has a mustache, and now Taft has joined the crew with a mustache of his own. The only clean-shaven mascots are Washington and Jefferson.

While the mustache may have tipped the scales in Taft’s favor, Nationals management may have also wanted to honor Taft for his role in baseball history.

This screen grab from the 2007 White House website of President George W. Bush shows President Taft throwing the first pitch. The site was “frozen in time” at noon on January 20, 2009, as President Barack Obama took the oath of office. It is archived on servers with National Archives-affiliated archives at the University of North Texas.

Taft was the first (and remains the only) former President to become a Supreme Court justice. But before he was on the bench, he was in the game! Taft was the first President to throw out the first ball of the baseball season.

On April 14, 1910, Taft threw a pitch to Walter Johnson, Opening Day pitcher for the Washington Senators. On April 15, Taft’s image was splashed across the sports pages. Since then, the Presidential pitch has been an American tradition.

Baseball and facial hair have some other historic connections! Lincoln was said to have been playing baseball in Springfield, Illinois, when he was informed that the Chicago Republican Convention had nominated him as the Presidential candidate. Supposedly Lincoln replied, “They will have to wait a few minutes until I get my next turn at bat.”

Impress your friends and family with your historic knowledge of baseball! Download our free eBook “Baseball: The National Pastime in the National Archives” for your iPad, iPhone, Android, or other eReader.

And watch for a special post on Presidents and baseball over on the White House blog.

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