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What is the origin of the seventh inning stretch?

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Answered 2007-09-08 19:00:28

President Howard Taft was attending a game and by the seventh inning he needed to get up and stretch. According to some, the game was delayed a couple minutes while Taft stretched. Thus, the seventh inning stretch was born. According to urban legend, President William Howard Taft started the trend on April 14, 1910 in a game between the Washington Senators and Philadephia Athletics at Griffith Park in Washington. Taft, who weighed over 300 pounds, grew more and more uncomfortable in his chair as the game wore on. Finally, by the middle of the seventh inning, he could not stand it no more, so he stood up from his chair. Everyone in the stadium thought that the President was about to leave, so they stood in respect. The seventh inning stretch was born. In another bit of trivia, Taft launched the tradition of the Presidential first pitch in the same game. Apparently on the spur of the moment, umpire Billy Evans handed Taft the ball after the managers had been introduced, and asked him to throw it over home plate. The President did so with delight. Nearly every president since has done this at least once during his term in office. The story has it that the seventh inning stretch originated during a game between the Senators and Athletics in 1910, in which the 27th President of the United States, William Howard Taft, was in attendance. No one is really sure why, whether his leg began to cramp or some other reason, but at the conclusion of the top of the seventh inning he stood and the rest of the crowd, out of respect and possibly because they thought he was leaving, stood with him. After a short period of time he sat down, and the rest of the crowd sat down with him, thus the seventh inning stretch and a long standing Baseball tradition was born. The president at the time, I believe it was Taft, stood up in between the top and the bottom of the seventh inning of a game he was attending. This prompted just about everyone in attendence to stand as well. A President once attended a game and at the break at the 7th he stood up to strectch, the spectators saw him standing and thought he was about to leave so as a mark of respect they stood up too, not knowing he was just stretching. The tradition has just continued. That president was William Howard Taft.

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Unfortunately, no one knows. The most popular myth is that it started at a Washington Senators game in 1910 that was attended by President William Howard Taft. Taft, a big man at over 6 feet tall and 300 pounds, got up to stretch his legs in the middle of the seventh inning due to aching caused by sitting in a small chair. The surrounding fans, thinking he was about to leave the stadium, got out of their seats in respect. When Taft sat back down the fans that had stood up also sat back down. But 41 years earlier in 1869, Harry Wright of the Cincinnati Red Stockings described in a letter the actions of the fans in the middle of the seventh inning where they would get up and stretch their arms and legs and walk around to relief stiffness caused by sitting on rock hard benches. Like most relatively insignificant things in history, the origin of the seventh inning stretch is not accurately known and probably never will be.


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