6 baseball books for mid-season reading

From a book about baseball-loving presidents to one about a largely forgotten .400 hitter, these releases should provide a good selection for summer reading.

1. 'The Presidents and the Pastime: The History of Baseball and the White House,’ by Curt Smith

Starting with Theodore Roosevelt and working all the way through to Donald Trump, author Curt Smith chronicles the connection between US presidents and baseball. The 469-page result goes much deeper than simply describing ceremonial Opening Day first-pitch ceremonies, which William Howard Taft pioneered in 1910. As a former presidential speechwriter and the author of “Voices of the Game,” the classic history of baseball broadcasting, Smith is the ideal person to unearth a rich vein of anecdotal material.

Here’s an excerpt from The Presidents and the Pastime:

“Nixon’s baseball ardor never ebbed. Like President Eisenhower, the two-term vice president frequently visited [Washington’s] Griffith Stadium in 1953-60. In 1957 he took part in an on-field tribute to the Senators’ Roy Sievers, who, overcome, broke down on his shoulder, Nixon putting an arm around No. 2 at home plate. Often, he attended unannounced, as that year for a doubleheader. [Senators] voice Bob Wolff asked him to appear on his between-games radio show, amending, ‘But let’s play a game. Don’t say your name until we’re finished.’

“First Bob asked about the Senators’ first game victory. 'Well, of course,’ Nixon replied, ‘being a Washington fan, I thought it was great.’

"They ad-libbed for seven minutes, climaxing with Wolff’s ‘Are you originally from Washington, sir?’

“GUEST: ‘No, I’m a Californian.’

"WOLFF: ‘What do you do, sir?’

“GUEST: ‘I work for the government.’

“WOLFF: ‘Oh, for the government.’

“GUEST: ‘Yes, yes, I work for the government.’

"WOLFF: ‘What sort of work do you do, sir?’

“GUEST: ‘Well, I’m the vice president.’ ”

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