Saturday, May 14, 2011
Reagan At Wrigley
My favorite card in the Opening Day set is the card of President Reagan throwing out the first pitch at Wrigley Field on Friday, September 30, 1988. I thought it would be interesting to find out the story behind his appearance.
The decision to go to the game seemed to be on a lark. Reagan was in Chicago to give a speech at a Republican fundraiser. A last minute decision was made to go see the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Reagan, of course, had some history with the Cubs. He re-created Cubs games for an Iowa radio station in 1934.
I wonder what the reaction of the Secret Service was when Reagan said he wanted to go to the ballgame. Lucky for them, this was the last weekend of the season and the Cubs were no where near the top of the league. The attendance at the game was only 9,805. I'm sure the fact that there was no advanced notice of his visit also made things a little easier on the Secret Service. The start of the game was delayed for 36 minutes while security got things set up.
Reagan spent some time in the dugout before the game talking with the Cubs. Here he is with Andre Dawson, Doug Dascenzo, and Shawon Dunston. When it was time to make the pitch, Reagan took the mound. That might seem like no big deal today, but I've found a few sources that claim that this was the first time a current president made the pitch from the field. In the past, the president would make the throw from his box seat.
That is Cubs catcher Damon Berryhill receiving the pitch
Reagan also wore a Cubs jacket, the first time a presidents sported team apparel. I'm undecided as to whether he was wearing a Kevlar jacket under his shirt. In some of the pictures, especially the last one, it looks like there is a straight line just above his waist. I know some modern presidents have complained that the jacket makes throwing more difficult. It doesn't look like the 78 year old Reagan had any problem zipping one in.
Once the game began, Reagan went up to the TV booth and sat in for a couple innings with Harry Caray and Steve Stone. He shared some of this broadcasting stories and then did a little play by play. His stay at the ballpark lasted for only an hour, but I'm sure it was a life time memory for the players and fans.