President Donald Trump knows how to play hardball in a metaphorical sense. It turns out he’s not too bad at it in a literal sense, either.
According to a new book on presidents and baseball, the 45th president was scouted by two teams coming out of his high school military prep academy to be a pro prospect, the Washington Examiner reported.
Author Curt Smith says the Boston Red Sox and the Philadelphia Phillies were interested in the first basemen from New York Military Academy before he went off to college at Fordham University in 1964 (he would eventually transfer to the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business).
Both times, the president turned down offers to pursue a baseball career. “He chose ‘real money’ over baseball money,” Smith writes.
Of course, perhaps it was because he’s never been terribly fond of losers.
The Red Sox had been the last Major League Baseball team to integrate in 1959, and the slowness to accept players of color, along with a lot of other mismanagement from the front office, made them perennial losers, failing to post a winning season from 1959-1966,
Meanwhile, the Phillies had been a middling team for most of the 1950s and 1960s. In 1964, what was one of their better seasons, they were ahead of the National League before an epic collapse which became known as “The Phold.” (This was in the days before playoffs, when the NL champion met the AL champion — so no wild card for them.)
The book, which is to be published next week, shows that scouting reports revealed Trump was a kid with a lot of hustle — so much so, in fact, that he was compared to Charlie Hustle, a.k.a. Pete Rose (minus the degenerate gambling, of course.
“Trump resembled Pete Rose via Dustin Pedroia by way of Enos Slaughter — the most never-say-die kid in town,” Smith wrote of how Trump’s playing style was described.
For the baseball neophyte, all of those were guys known by their hustle. Slaughter played between the late 1930s and late 1950s. During his time in the minors, after a routine out at first base, his manager asked him if he was tired. Slaughter said he wasn’t. “‘The way you ran, you looked tired,” his manager told him. Slaughter learned his lesson and ran flat out for the rest of his career, no matter how hopeless the situation looked.
Trump, apparently, didn’t even need that kind of lesson. And he proved it on the field of finance.
So if Trump has such a strong connection to baseball from his youth, why hasn’t he thrown out the traditional first pitch that presidents have done for years?
Smith says he’s not sure why Trump has avoided throwing a first pitch, but believes it would be good for the image of the president and the game itself.
“At a time like this, the Donald could affect a rough blue-collar charm appealing to the people who elected him, largely tired of and embittered by being ignored by institutions, especially government,” Smith writes. “Yet the last irony of his no-first-year first pitch is that it affirmed a similar angst already epidemic among those who follow another institution, baseball, their voices judged unworthy of being heard as the pastime itself has ebbed.”
Of course, Trump would almost certainly do a better job with his first pitch than Barack “Mom Jeans” Obama or Hillary Clinton, who was a lifelong Cubs fan until she became a New York senator and turned into a lifelong Yankees fan. (It’s good to know that the only affiliation of choice I share with Clinton came about because she needed a Senate seat in 2000 and New York seemed ripe for the taking.)
So Trump may not throw out the first pitch, but if he did, you could bet it would beat this display from 1994:
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