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Happy President’s Day: Nothing is as American as Baseball

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Match the President with his baseball alter-ego

San Francisco Giants v Texas Rangers, Game 4 Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Below, for your reading pleasure (or not) I give you our Presidents and their best corresponding baseball counterpart, in almost chronological order:

#1 - George Washington - Don’t @ me, Claudell Washington is the best baseball Washington. Sorry Ron.

#2 - John Adams - Babe Adams is the best Adams and the worst Babe.

#3 - Thomas Jefferson - In a stunner, Reggie Jefferson is the best Jefferson.

#4 - James Madison - There are no good Madisons other than Bumgarner.

#5 - James Monroe - Craig Monroe? Really?

#6 - John Quincy Adams - Negro League star Quincy Troupe put up -.1WAR in his one season with the Cleveland Indians. He is the best Quincy.

#8 - Martin Van Buren - Deacon Van Buren and his 0.0 WAR eeks a win as the best Van Buren over Jermaine Van Buren.

#9 - William Henry Harrison - Josh Harrison is the first player to inarguably put up more WAR than his corresponding President, William Henry Harrison and the one-speech Presidency. Though this depends a lot on one’s opinion of...

#7 Andrew Jackson. While Reggie Jackson put a dominant 72.7 fWAR, Old Hickory was no slacker in the war department himself.

#10 - John Tyler - Lefty Tyler of the Miracle Braves deserves better than to be paired with “His Accidency.”

#11 - James Polk - There have surprisingly been no Polk major leaguers. However, A.J. Pollack (the expanded surname of Polk) has accumulated over 17 fWAR so far.

#12 - Zachary Taylor - There are soooo many mediocre Taylors! There are (probably) 69 Taylors to have made it to The Show, and they’ve only managed to accumulate about 420 WAR max between them. We’ll give the nod to Dummy Taylor and his 18.3 fWAR as the best, but honestly I got tired of looking after a while.

#13 - Millard Fillmore - No Fillmores in the Bigs either, but if you put Frank *Gilmore* and Frank *Millard* together…well, you still only get about 4 fWAR.

#14 - Franklin Pierce - Billy Pierce, 52.5 fWAR; Franklin Pierce, signed Kansas-Nebraska Act that was a major flashpoint in our way to the Civil War. Advantage: Billy.

#15 James Buchanan - Bob, Jim, David, and Jake Buchanan were/are all not good at baseball. But they can take solace that they were all better at their jobs than the only President to hail from Pennsylvania.

#16 - Abraham Lincoln - Brad Lincoln was the 4th overall pick by the Pirates in 2006, but amassed just .1 WAR in his career. Heavy the head that wears the stovepipe, right Abe?

#17 - Andrew Johnson - Look, there are a lot of Johnsons to choose from. Some of them have been really good. Almost all of were better at their jobs than Andrew Johnson was at his. But this is a Rays blog, and there can be only one:

#18 - Ulysses S. Grant - Mudcat Grant only put up 13 fWAR in his career. But I dare you to give me a more US Grant name than “Mudcat.”

#19 - Rutherford B. Hayes - Hayes feels like a classic underachieving President. So, meet Von “5 for 1” Hayes.

#20 - James Garfield - Bill Garfield put up positive WAR (barely) for the worst team in history, the 1890 Cleveland Spiders. James Garfield was assassinated after six months. Coincidence?

#21 - Chester A. Arthur - There are a couple MacArthurs that didn’t amount to much, but no plain ol’ Arthurs. We do however have Arthur Rhodes and his 17.6 fWAR. That’ll do.

#22 - Grover Cleveland - Per Wikipedia, Grover Cleveland “was the leader of the pro-business Bourbon Democrats.” Grover Cleveland “Pete” Alexander, in addition to being named after the dude, liked to drink in between (and sometimes while) winning baseball games.

#23 - Benjamin Harrison was the most successful President Harrison. Matt Harrison was the least successful baseball Harrison. Them’s the brakes.

#24 - Grover Cleveland came back again for another turn in 1893. He was more Reggie Cleveland this time though.

#25 - William McKinley was assassinated by anarchists shortly after his reelection. Let’s hope for better things from the closest thing we have to a baseball McKinley, Jays catcher Billy McKinney.

#26 - Teddy Roosevelt was a legend, and a pretty good President. Roosevelt Brown was a first round pick (third overall) who went on to put up 0.8 fWAR for the Cubs between 1999-2002.

#27 - William Howard Taft was more than just a fat President who (probably didn’t) get stuck in the bathtub. He was also a Supreme Court Justice, and was likely the dude responsible for two baseball traditions: throwing out the first pitch and the seventh inning stretch. John Taft, on the other hand, pitched seven games for the 1913 Athletics, going 0-1 with a save, and a 6.62 ERA (but a 2.39 FIP!).

#28 - Woodrow Wilson has a complicated legacy, as do a lot of baseball players. So we’re going to pair Woodrow with Willie Wilson, a talented speedster for the 70s/80s Royals who never really learned that you can’t steal a bag until you get on base, and who also got caught up on the Pittsburgh drug trials along with three Royals teammates and several other players.

#29 - Warren G. Harding died in office during his scandal-plagued Presidency. Charlie Harding pitched two innings for the 1913 Tigers.

#30 - Calvin Coolidge - No big league Coolidges, but Billy McCool tallied 4.8 fWAR for the Reds (and others) in the 1960s, and Brad Lidge — in addition to having a nice career — once gave up a dinger to Albert Pujols that still hasn’t landed.

#31 - Herbert Hoover was President for eight four years, which was eight four years too long. One-time Devil Ray Paul Hoover was a big leaguer for parts of seven seasons over ten freaking years. No one knows how that happened, or how Paul’s -0.4 fWAR still managed to far exceeded Herbert’s.

#32 - Franklin Delano Roosevelt - Regardless of what you think of FDR, he invented modern America, sometimes through cutting corners if that’s what it took. Basically, he was Pete Rose.

#33 - Harry Truman deserves better than Truman “Tex” Clevenger” and his 4.4 fWAR, but what are you gonna do?

#34 - Dwight D. Eisenhower - Baseball is short on Eisenhowers, but long on Ikes. From Ike Boone to Ike Brown to Ike Pearson to both Ike Davises, there is a lot of competition. But we’ll go with Gus “Ozark Ike” Zernail, not because the outfielder’s one All-Star game and 14.4 fWAR really match up with Eisenhower, but just because, well, we like Ozark Ike.

#35 - John F. Kennedy - No jokes here. JFK could have been great. We here in Rays land had hopes for our own Kennedy once upon time, who was taken too soon. God bless Joe Kennedy.

#36 - Lyndon B. Johnson - Oh, you thought I was going to pick a different Johnson this time?

#37 - Richard M. Nixon - The only difference between Richard Nixon and Otis Nixon is that Otis never covered up any of his 620 steals.

#38 - Gerald R. Ford - Ford pardoned Nixon “for the good of the country” with a straight face. Whitey Ford lived at a time you could still call someone “whitey” with a straight face.

#39 - Jimmy Carter - Gary Carter. Both of them...I dunno...smiled a lot? Sorry, I’m running out of jokes.

#40 - Ronald Reagan - It’s been a long time since Ronald Reagan was President, and people still have opinions! about him that I’m not gonna get into. Instead, read this is you haven’t already about the late Douglas Reagan Ault, original Blue Jay, from Rachael McDaniel.

#41 - George H.W. Bush - Bush the Greater was a one-term President who got super unpopular at the wrong time. “Bullet” Joe Bush is credited for having invented the forkball.

#42 - Bill Clinton - Slick Willie goes with...Clint Hurdle? Maybe? I dunno. I’m just really bummed I couldn’t figure out a way to link him to Gaylord Perry.

#43 - George W. Bush - Bush the lesser gets Randy Bush, a sometimes serviceable OF/DH for the Twin who always seemed to be in over his head.

#44 - Barack Obama - There are no Obamas in baseball. Or Baracks. Not even close. I’m just not going to try because you aren’t even reading anymore anyway. You’re just looking for the last one.

#45 - Donald J. Trump gets Mark Trumbo, whom the Orioles have been trying to pass off as an outfielder the last few years. No one is buying it, fellas.

Happy Presidents Day!