The First Lady of Baseball
I recently attended a Mets game at Citifield, and I couldn't help but think of Grace Coolidge.
The Coolidges loved baseball. It has been said that First Lady Grace Coolidge knew the game better than her husband and kept her own scorecards. While in the White House, the couple cheered for the Washington Senators, and Bucky Harris, who managed the Senators during their great run of 1920s success, said she was “the most rabid baseball fan I ever knew in the White House.”1 Grace reportedly turned to baseball after the death of her son in July 1924. 2
After the Coolidges returned to their hometown in Northampton, Massachusetts in 1929, they became Boston Red Sox fans. She travelled to Fenway and also listened to the games on the radio, play-by-play.
I attended on September 4, 2022 when the New York Mets played the Washington Nationals who were formerly known as the Washington Senators. One hundred years ago, the Coolidges were cheering on their team. Things looked different.
From left to right: Treasury Secretary Andrew W. Mellon, First Lady Grace Coolidge, President Calvin Coolidge, Secretary of State Frank B. Kellogg and Attorney General John G. Sargent on Senators’ home opening day, April 22, 1925.
Library of Congress
At Citifield, New York Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor (#12) at bat, retired numbers including the most recent#17 for Keith Hernandez; and me. On September 4, 2022, they lost to the Washington Nationals 7 to 1.
The Secret Service nicknamed her Sunshine because she was always smiling. Her mother said that Grace could sew on a button before she could walk. She went on to crochet the coverlet on the Lincoln bed in the White House, as she wanted something that would be passed down through the ages. This heirloom piece took her four years to make and she used a number 4 crochet hook and shoestring yarn.
Grace Coolidge Crocheting
Library of Congress
Grace loved animals, and even had a pet raccoon named Rebecca. She took the critter to the White House Easter Egg Roll. The Coolidges had all sorts of pets including dogs (the most famous called Rob Roy) and cats and birds and even ducklings and a goose named Ebeneezer. People from all over the world shipped animals to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but the exotic ones such as a wallaby, a black bear and lion cubs ended up at the zoo at nearby Rock Creek Park.
First Lady Grace Coolidge and Rebecca the Raccoon delight the children at the White House Easter Egg Roll.
Courtesy of Vermont Historical Society
I have a real affinity for Grace Coolidge. It's no wonder, I named my puppy, Gracie. We think she's amazing just like the Mets...and Mrs. Coolidge. By the way, in Scottish, Gracie originally meant an embroiderer.
Grace Coolidge is one of the first ladies I wrote about in Ladies, First: Common Threads.
1 Jean Hastings Ardell, Breaking Into Baseball, Women and the National Pastime (South Illinois University Press, 2005), 35.