With support from the University of Richmond

History News Network

History News Network puts current events into historical perspective. Subscribe to our newsletter for new perspectives on the ways history continues to resonate in the present. Explore our archive of thousands of original op-eds and curated stories from around the web. Join us to learn more about the past, now.

A history of booing the president at MLB games, from ‘we want beer’ to ‘lock him up’

President Trump got booed during the Nationals-Astros World Series game in Washington on Sunday night, with fans adding in a chant of “lock him up” for good measure. It was either a full-throated demonstration of free speech or an unseemly display of incivility, depending on whom you’re asking.

It was not, however, the first time that has happened.

President Herbert Hoover played baseball at Stanford and was said to have read the sports section before any other in the newspaper each morning, and he continued the tradition of throwing out the first pitch during Opening Day for the Washington Senators at Griffith Stadium. Hoover also made it to the World Series in 1929, 1930 and 1931, each time to watch the Athletics in Philadelphia.

As told by the White House Historical Association, Hoover’s final trip to Shibe Park in 1931 occurred during the worst of the Great Depression, yet Hoover felt the need to make an appearance at the game as “a gesture of reassurance to a country suffering from a severe attack of ‘jitters,’ ” he noted in his memoirs. Those jitters manifested themselves when Hoover got up to leave and was met with “a resounding chorus of boos … the president of the United States was accorded the bird, or razzberry,” according to an account in the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. Thirsty fans suffering through Prohibition also chanted “We want beer” at the president.

“Perhaps Philadelphia is tired of whiskey and gin,” Westbrook Pegler wrote in the Arkansas Gazette.

Read entire article at Washington Post