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Obama Touring the Baseball Hall of Fame
By Samantha Wessing
The pool joined President Obama’s already-in-progress tour of the Baseball Hall of Fame at the Diamond Dreams exhibit highlighting women in baseball. The tour guide offered a short history of women and the game. “That’s great. … That’s terrific,” Obama said.
Next, they looked at Babe Ruth’s bat, which Obama quickly held up and inspected. “Wow,” he said. He then examined the ball that Howard Taft threw in 1910 – the first-ever presidential opening day first pitch. Taft threw it from his seat and not from the pitcher's mound. Obama grabbed it and pretended to throw it at the press pool but thought better of it.
Obama picked up FDR’s green-light letter declaring that baseball would continue during the war. Obama read aloud, “I honestly feel it would be best for the country to keep baseball going….. ”
“Wise man. FDR,” Obama said.
The tour guide then showed Obama the shoes that “Shoeless” Joe Jackson wore. “He had small feet,” Obama said as he held them for a moment. Obama noted that Shoeless Joe was a touchy subject for White Sox fans.
Obama then eagerly picked up Joe DiMaggio’s well-worn glove. “How about that,” Obama said, clearly delighted to see this history up close.
Obama took a quick look at a signed Carlton Fisk jersey, saying, “That’s fantastic.”
The president then looked at a display of World Series rings. While other visitors had been shooed away and told not to touch anything, Obama quickly slipped on a ring. “Oh, it fits,” he said with a smile.
He then held up a blinged-out ring from 2003 and a much more modest championship ring from 1922. “You will notice the contrast,” Mr. Obama said.
At the exhibit focused on the African American baseball experience, the tour guide and Obama discussed the integration of baseball and Jackie Robinson’s role. “That’s great …. Gotta have everybody on the field,” Obama said.
The guide showed Obama a thick book detailing exhaustive records, pointing out the details of Jackie Robinson’s first at-bat. The guide told Obama that Robinson had been hit by pitches seven times during his first few months in the league. “Interesting to note,” Obama said.
Finally, Obama stopped by a locker showcasing the history of his beloved Chicago White Sox. He spent a couple minutes looking at the White Sox display before moving on to the nearby Chicago Cubs’ locker. Andrew Dawson, who joined the tour, offered a few details about the Cubs but they were largely out of earshot of the pool. Dawson spent the middle years of his baseball career playing for the Cubs.