Let us take you out to the ball game with our roundup of baseball fun facts. Uncover the history of the ceremonial first pitch, the story behind hot dogs at baseball games, and the astonishing legend of one beer-drinking baseball player.
The way to catch a knuckleball is to wait until the ball stops rolling and then to pick it up. — Bob Uecker
What do LeBron James, William Howard Taft, and Bill Murray have in common? They have all thrown the ceremonial first pitch at a baseball game! The tradition began in 1910, with President Taft throwing the ball from the grandstand on opening day at National Park in Washington, D.C. It wasn’t until President Ronald Reagan’s unscheduled appearance at the 1984 Baltimore Orioles opening day game that the tradition changed—Reagan was the first president to throw his pitch on the field. Since 1910, every single American president (aside from Donald Trump) has thrown a ceremonial first pitch at a Major League Baseball game. Celebrities, athletes, and other notable figures are sometimes invited to throw ceremonial first pitches as well. Some of them do a surprisingly good job, and some, well… don’t.
Here are some highlights of the best and worst ceremonial first pitches:
Best: Zach Galifinakis
Worst: 50 Cent
Best: Russell Wilson
Worst: Carly Rae Jepsen
A hot dog at the game beats roast beef at the Ritz. — Humphrey Bogart
When thinking about ballpark snacks, crackerjack, peanuts, or giant pretzels might all come to mind. However, there is one food that tops them all: the hot dog. The hot dog is a staple of baseball games—in fact, superstar baseball player Babe Ruth allegedly ate a dozen hot dogs once during the two games of a doubleheader. But how did the hot dog become such an important part of America’s pastime?
There are two competing stories that shape the history of hot dogs and baseball games. Supposedly, in the 1890s, German immigrant and St. Louis Browns owner Chris Von de Ahe began selling the bread-encased sausages to patrons at the St. Louis ballpark he owned. However, a Brit is also credited with introducing the hot dog to baseball fans—on a chilly New York day in 1905, Harry M. Stevens switched from selling his usual ice cream and began offering “dachshund sausages.” These “dachshund sausages” were later coined “hot dogs” by a cartoonist who had trouble spelling the original name.
Looking for another ballpark-style snack? If you can’t make it to a game for a giant pretzel, our soft pretzel bites are a must-have shareable treat.
I never took the game home with me. I always left it in some bar. — Bob Lemon
If you know your baseball players (or are a fan of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia), you might be familiar with Wade Boggs. Elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2005, Wade Boggs spent the majority of his 18-year career playing for the Boston Red Sox, although Boggs also played for the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Devil Rays towards the end of his career. The 12-time All Star third baseman is famous for his hitting record, boasting a .328 batting average in his 3,010 hits. However, Boggs’ other claim to fame is his beer-drinking record, as referenced in Always Sunny.
In the Season 10 episode titled “The Gang Beats Boggs”, the ragtag crew from Philadelphia embarks on a mission to beat Wade Boggs’ alleged record of drinking 50 (or 60, or 70) beers on a cross-country flight from Boston to Los Angeles, only to go on to beat the Seattle Mariners the next day.
While The Gang’s disastrous drinking challenge is fictitious, the rumor surrounding Wade Boggs’ beer-guzzling journey is real. When asked about his epic record, Boggs claimed that he had not consumed 64 beers in one sitting—instead, he’d drank 107 beers.