"We sincerely appreciate the many true Americans who insist on equal rights for all."
Telegram to the White House, August 13, 1957
Jack Roosevelt Robinson (1919-72) was the first black man to “officially” play in the big leagues in the 20th century. In the course of a distinguished 10-year career beginning in 1947, Robinson led the Brooklyn Dodgers to six National League titles and one victorious World Series.
Beyond his many and baseball feats, Jackie Robinson went on to champion the cause of civil rights when he retired from the game. Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson all received candid correspondence from Robinson on the need to act for civil rights.
Our holdings at the Presidential Libraries and National Archives include numerous records relating to Jackie Robinson. You can see a number of the telegrams and letters Robinson sent to the White House here.
Image: Telegram to the White House from Jackie Robinson regarding the 1957 Civil Rights Act from the Eisenhower Library.
January 31, 1919 - October 24, 1972
Babe Ruth and George Bush
On January 29, 1936, the Baseball Hall of Fame elected its first members. Among the five men was Babe Ruth, seen in this photograph taken in 1948, donating the manuscript of his autobiography to Yale.
The young man in uniform is the captain of the Yale baseball team and a future President. George H. W. Bush was an older college student—he had delayed going to college and joined the Navy after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Baseball in Washington DC, 1933
We admit it—here in Washington, DC, we are pretty excited about the Washington Nationals game this afternoon! The last time we won the American League pennant was in 1933 when the team was the Washington Senators and Franklin D. Roosevelt was in the White House.
In honor of the first DC home game in this Major League Baseball playoff series, here’s a photograph of FDR throwing the ceremonial first pitch for Game 3 of the World Series, when the New York Giants played the Senators. Washington, DC, 10/5/33.
And for any fans who may have called in “sick” today, you’re in good company — When FDR was a young attorney in New York City, he almost lost his job because he would sneak off to Giants games.
Thanks to Sarah, archivist magician at the FDR Library for finding this photo!
More - When FDR Said “Play Ball”
President John F. Kennedy attends the 32nd All-Star Baseball Game, throws out first ball.
Speaker of the House John W. McCormack, Dave Powers, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, President Kennedy, Commissioner of Baseball Ford. Washington, D.C., D.C. Stadium, 07/10/1962.
-from the JFK Library
Letter from Jackie Robinson to President Eisenhower
Jack Roosevelt Robinson (1919-72) was the first African American to “officially” play in Major League Baseball. When he retired from the game, Jackie Robinson went on to champion the cause of civil rights from his position as a prominent executive of the Chock Full o’Nuts Corporation.
Robinson had grown increasingly impatient with what he regarded as President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s failure to act decisively in combating racism. In this letter, he expresses his frustration and calls upon the President to finally guarantee Federal support of black civil rights. Read more
The general-election campaign is under way, and so is the baseball season. Over at Daily Comment, Steve Coll asks how those two could be joined—and maybe, just maybe, whether a World Series run by the Washington Nationals might play a decisive role in the Presidential race. Presidents have been throwing out pitches at Washington baseball games, and at other stadiums around the country, for a century. You can see some of the best moments—from William Howard Taft, who tossed the ball to Walter Johnson, to Barack Obama, in the following slide show: http://nyr.kr/J08ZI1 (Also see: Presidents and their dogs.)
JFK’s grandfather, John “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald, Opening Day, Fenway Park.
Introducing the Kennedy Library’s Tumblr blog! This photo is super cool, and there’s lots more Kennedy history happening there. Follow them and enjoy.
From L-R: two unidentified, Charles Logue (designed original Fenway Park), Mayor John Francis Fitzgerald (“Honey Fitz”), and unidentified, Fenway Park, 1912.
Happy 100th Anniversary Fenway Park! Here’s a great photo of JFK’s grandfather, Honey Fitz, taken April 20, 1912, on the opening day of Fenway Park.
…and Baseball is the greatest of American sports.
President Herbert Hoover