Powerful Political Families - Semi Final Bracket

Political Family Bracket – Round 2

Last week were the opening matches in the powerful and influential political family brackets. Click here to review those contests. In the semi-finals, the Tafts face the Harrisons while the Bush family takes on the Roosevelts.

Taft Versus Harrison:

Rapid City, SD Statue of Taft

Rapid City, SD Statue of Taft

This is a battle of two somewhat forgotten families. Tafts have served as President, on the Supreme Court, in the Senate and as Governor. But importantly, on April 14, 1910, President William Howard Taft inaugurated a new tradition, the Presidential first pitch to open the baseball season. Nearby is a picture of the Taft Statue in Rapid City, South Dakota, which has a statue of every President. Taft is getting ready to pitch, looking in for the sign from the catcher. Taft even understood ‘Sabermetrics.’ Sabermetrics is the use of statistics to develop optimal baseball strategy. According to Sabermetrics, the sacrifice bunt is a poor strategy in most cases. Taft was quoted once: "Saturday's game was a fine one, but several times when a hit meant a run, the batter was ordered to bunt. I believe they should hit it out. I love the game when there is plenty of slugging.” Ahead of his time!

The Baseball Almanac records Taft as attending fifteen games while in office; I think this is more than any other President.

President Taft Throwing out first pitch

President Taft Throwing out first pitch

Charles Phelps Taft, the President’s wealthy older brother, supported William Howard in his various political campaigns. Charles Taft was a part-owner of the Chicago Cubs in the early 1900s. In 1914, a third professional baseball league was founded, the Federal League. Player salaries escalated as the leagues competed for the best ballplayers. When the Federal League folded, Charles Weeghman, owner of the Chicago Federal League franchise was allowed to purchase the Chicago Cubs, since he had a brand new ballpark, located at the corner of Clark and Addison. Charles Taft helped finance the purchase.  Weegham and part-owner Charles Taft eventually sold to the Wrigley family, who re-named the field after chewing gum.

What do the Harrison’s have to offer? Yes, the Harrisons have over 300 years in various political offices. And, according to Baseball Almanac, President Benjamin Harrison was the first President to attend a Major League game in 1892.

Winner: Both families have a long history of political involvement. But the Taft’s contribution to our national pastime advances them into the finals.

Roosevelt Versus Bush

This is a tough contest. The Roosevelts produced two of the nation’s top-ranked Presidents.  The Bush family also had two Presidents, but they are generally ranked as average Presidents. Both families were involved in our national pastime, baseball. Despite using a wheelchair, Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) threw out several opening day first pitches. Most importantly, in 1942 the Commissioner of Baseball asked FDR about suspending baseball for the duration of the war. FDR replied: "I honestly feel that it would be best for the country to keep baseball going." His letter continued: "There will be fewer people unemployed, and everybody will work longer hours and harder than ever before. And that means that they ought to have a chance for recreation and for taking their minds off their work even more than before." FDR did indicate that ballplayers should serve in the military. Many did, losing some of their best years to the service.

Babe Ruth and Bush 41

Babe Ruth and Bush 41

George Bush 41 was captain of Yale University’s baseball team. In 1948, he met Babe Ruth and received a donation of Ruth’s biography to the Yale Library. Ruth died a few weeks later. As President, in 1991, Bush invited Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams to the White House to celebrate the 50th anniversary of DiMaggio’s 56 game hitting streak and William’s .406 batting average. Neither of these extraordinary accomplishments has been exceeded since. Bush 43 was a part-owner of the Texas Rangers baseball team for about ten years, starting in the late 1980s. As President, Bush threw a perfect curveball strike in Yankee stadium at the first post 9/11 World Series, held six weeks later. Bush later related that Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter told him not to bounce the pitch, otherwise the crowd would boo him. No pressure.

It looks like both families involved themselves in baseball. But back to politics to pick a Bush-Roosevelt winner. Beyond the two Roosevelt Presidencies, two of FDR’s children served briefly in the House of Representatives. And one of Teddy’s children, Ted, Jr., served in the military becoming the first general to land on D-day.

Meanwhile, the Bush family political history covers several generations starting with Prescott Bush, Senator from Connecticut in the 50s and early 60s; and as the 41st and 43rd President of the United States. President George H.W. Bush (41) served in many critical national positions, including Director of the CIA, Vice President and President. His sons George and Jeb served as governors in Texas and Florida respectively. His son George W. Bush served as 43rd President. A fourth-generation, George Prescott Bush currently holds the Texas Land Commissioner office.

With the baseball criteria tied, the Bush family has more generations and politicians than the Roosevelts and is the winner advancing to the finals.


Next blog entry, the finals – Bush versus Taft.