Grace and Calvin Coolidge, Baseball, and the Two O’Haras

On Friday, July 3, 1915 another president made his debut in the fourth-inning mascot race during the Washington Nationals baseball game. It happened to take place on the evening before his birthday. The new guy just happened to win the race although there may have been some elbows thrown. Joining George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abe Lincoln, William Howard Taft (Psi Upsilon), and Teddy Roosevelt (Delta Kappa Epsilon), was Calvin Coolidge (Phi Gamma Delta).

washington-nationals-calvin-coolidge-racing-president

Frankly, it is my opinion that the mascot looks nothing like President Coolidge. A friend sent me the link to a Boston NPR’s station article discussing the Coolidge mascot which suggested that perhaps the wrong Coolidge had been chosen (http://bitly.com/1C6RXHU).

President Coolidge throwing out the first pitch while his wife looks on.

President Coolidge throwing out the first pitch while his wife looks on.

Grace Goodhue Coolidge (Pi Beta Phi) absolutely loved baseball. Coolidge scholar David Pietrusza wrote, “Known for decades as ‘The First Lady of Baseball,’ she was a fixture at Opening Days, the World Series, ordinary games at Fenway (and in her era there were many ‘ordinary’ games at said park), and camped in front of her radio at home – tuned to any game within broadcast range.” Although televisions were starting to become readily available in the 1950s, she preferred a radio and didn’t care much for television; that was a sentiment she shared often with a group of Pi Beta Phi friends who formed a Round Robin letter in 1915. The letters continued until the members of the group passed away.

While at the University of Vermont, Grace Goodhue served as her chapter’s Corresponding Secretary. In a chapter letter published in the July 1901 Arrow of Pi Beta Phi, she wrote about a baseball game between UVM and Syracuse University, ” During the last week there has been a tennis tournament here with Dartmouth, in which we won, and if our baseball had only been a little more successful we should be feeling in pretty good spirits. We wish to say to our Syracuse sisters that it is now our turn to offer congratulations to them and we do so most heartily, but with a rather forced smile.” Typically, chapter letters of this era did not contain news about sporting events.

According to Pietrusza, in the 1950s Grace wrote to one of her friends, “I venture to say that not one of you cares a hoot about baseball but to me it is my very life.” I think the quote is from one of her Round Robin letters, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Here are some other quotes from the Robin letters as they pertain to baseball. 

I listen to the broadcasts of the baseball games and do not feel that I am wasting time because I work on the needlepoint seats for the childrens’ dining room chairs at the same time. I have been hoping that the World Series games would be played in Boston this fall between the Red Sox and the Braves but the Sox are not doing very well. I am tuned in now to a night game between the Dodgers and the Cardinals in St. Louis. (June 3, 1948)

The base ball season is in full swing. Mrs. Adams, Doctor Collins and I drove to Boston Friday, saw a game that night and one Saturday afternoon between the Braves and the Giants and drove home after the Saturday game. The Braves are on the top of the National League at the moment. I am hopeful of a World Series between the Braves and the Red Sox. (May 2, 1949)

The baseball season will be in full swing in the middle of this month and, you know me, I shall be listening to the broadcasts of the games when not actually present. I am going to a pre-season game in Springfield next Thursday when the Red Sox play the Springfield Cubs, a farm team for the Chicago Cubs. (April 7, 1951)

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 On June 3, Kelli O’Hara, the Gamma Phi Beta who is starring in the King and I and winner of a Tony Award for her preformance in the show, sent a video twitter message to Kelley O’Hara, the Stanford University Kappa Kappa Gamma who played on the U.S. Olympic Soccer Team and the winning World Cup Soccer Team. To view the message see

Congratulations to the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team!

© Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2015. All Rights Reserved. If  you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest www.pinterest.com/glohistory/

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