Theodore Roosevelt is well-known for the line, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” This cartoon takes that phrase and gives it a baseball twist. In it, Roosevelt is depicted as a baseball player on the field amongst other political figures. If you look closely, you can see the phrase “Honest & upright government” printed on the bat, while the ball bears the phrase “Trashy politics.”
The image was created in January 1903 for Puck magazine, a political satire publication printed in the early- to mid-1900s in New York City.
Though he wasn’t exactly the game’s biggest fan, on May 16, 1907, the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues issued the first presidential lifetime pass to President Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt preferred sports that were “more vigorous,” though he later admitted that he enjoyed watching his son Quentin participate in baseball. Nevertheless, Roosevelt never attended a major league baseball game.
Theodore Roosevelt, it seems, did not think highly of the game of baseball. This revelation saddens me somewhat, as Roosevelt is one of my top two favorite Presidents in United States history (the other being Abraham Lincoln). In 1909, Grantland Rice published this piece in Baseball Magazine in an attempt to coax the President into a favorable perspective by highlighting the aspects of the game that Roosevelt would be most likely to find appealing.
That’s the only job for you, take your tip now, Theodore,
Think of how your pulse will leap when you hear the angry roar.
Of the bleacher gods in rage, you will find the action there,
Which you’ve hunted for in vain, in the Presidential chair.
Chasing mountain lions and such, catching grizzlies will seem tame,
Lined up with the jolt you’ll get in the thick of some close game.
Choking angry wolves to death as a sport will stack up raw,
When you see Kid Elberfeld swinging for your under jaw.
When you hear Hugh Jennings roar, “Call them strikes, you lump of cheese!”
Or McGraw rushing in, kicking at your shins and knees.