White House Historical Association Teams Up With DC’s Nationals
It’s a partnership that might seem out of left field, but the Washington Nationals and White House Historical Association are a pairing that seems to fit like a well-broken-in glove. The two organizations have big plans for this baseball season.
Question: Who was the last U.S. president to throw out a first pitch at a World Series game in Washington, DC?
The answer to that bit of baseball trivia (Calvin Coolidge in 1924) was the inspiration for a partnership between the White House Historical Association and the Washington Nationals that was announced this week, just in time for the start of a new MLB season.
WHHA, known for its annual White House Christmas ornament, will honor Coolidge with this year’s edition. As the staff researched the 30th president for the design of the ornament, they learned that he and his wife, Grace, were huge baseball fans and regularly attended games. That sparked some creative thinking, which resulted in WHHA reaching out to the Nationals—a team known for playing up its DC roots with the Racing Presidents mascots.
“It took a while to get that conversation going,” said WHHA President Stewart McLaurin. But the association won the team over with its plan to leverage the partnership to help educate students on the history of the White House.
“We will be the official history education partner for the Washington Nationals,” McLaurin explained. “What that means is we will go around with representatives of the team to middle schools throughout the region, and they’ll use our content and our curriculum to teach students about the 215-year history” of the presidential mansion.
Without giving away too much detail, McLaurin said the schools they visit will compete throughout the year in some sort of contest, and the winning school will get invited to Nationals Park, where students will be recognized during a game.
The partnership will also make WHHA highly visible at Nationals Park. The group’s logo will be flashed on the scoreboard at least once per game during the White House History Challenge, a new in-game competition where one fan will be asked a question with the chance to win this year’s Christmas tree ornament. There will be a Calvin Coolidge bobble head night and new signage in the stadium honoring Coolidge’s first-pitch. And the Christmas ornament will be available for purchase at the ballpark.
For WHHA, the partnership is the first with a professional sports franchise. McLaurin called it a “seamless integration of America’s pastime with America’s house.”
“We’re a big believer in partnerships,” he said. “We are rich in content and curriculum for students, but we need partners to help extend our reach—in this case, into the classroom and into the ballpark 81 times this year, and hopefully more with a deep postseason run for the Nats. Any kind of partnership where two or more parties can work together and make each other better and stronger is a beautiful thing, and I think that’s exactly what we’ve got here with the Nationals.”
Calvin Coolidge throws out the first pitch at a baseball game. (Library of Congress)