Move over, Herbie and Cal.
William Howard Taft — the burly commander in chief with the handlebar mustache — is retiring to West Palm Beach where he will compete with Herbert Hoover and Calvin Coolidge in the middle of the fourth inning of Washington Nationals home games.
“Bill,’’ as the Racing President is known, will arrive this weekend, in time for Tuesday’s inaugural Grapefruit League game between the Nationals and Houston Astros.
Herbie and Cal have been in town for the last few months, making appearances, as presidents do, to promote the opening of the $150 million spring training complex south of 45th Street.
The Nationals, in announcing Taft’s retirement on Friday to The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, added the 27th president to make the in-game races a bit more competitive instead of a two-way races each game between Hoover and Coolidge.
Taft had a tough time last year at president races in Nationals Park, ranking last among six Racing Presidents with just nine race wins. (Herbie didn’t do much better, at 10 wins.)
You can see all of the Racing Presidents results on the fun and informative Let Teddy Win blog.
As for the real Taft, he has a solid historical baseball connection. On April 10, 1910, he became the first president to throw out the first ball of the major league season. That launched a tradition of ceremonial first pitches by presidents.
He is also remembered as the heaviest president, standing 5 feet 11 and topping out at 335-340 pounds toward the end of his presidency (1909-1913).