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As it turned out, the belated opener was a rousing success. The Senators, who had been doormats since the American League’s founding in 1901, defeated the World Series champion A’s 5-4 for their 17th consecutive victory in a incredible turnabout season that saw them finish second behind the Boston Red Sox.

When Wilson succeeded Taft in 1913, he had no choice but to turn up at the ballyard on Opening Day. Every other president followed suit, with varying results. Franklin Roosevelt, who could not walk because of polio, usually delivered a strong toss. Harry Truman, who could throw the ball with either hand, once stood up with gloves on both and let fans guess which arm he would use. And so it went.

Taft, who went on to become Chief Justice after leaving the White House, was not a particularly happy or notable president — he once called the White House “the loneliest place in the world” — but probably he would have had no trouble picking what he liked best about the job.