On this day in 1937, President Franklin D. Roosevelt excuses himself from attending the annual dinner of the Baseball Writer’s Association and instead sends a letter to be read in his absence.
In the letter, addressed to James Dawson of The New York Times, F.D.R. praised the skills and sportsmanship of the sports writers who brought alive the excitement and heartbreak of competition to the American people. At a time when the United States was still slowly inching its way out of the Great Depression, sports remained one avenue of escapism that transcended economic woes.
As a young adult, F.D.R. had balanced his studies with a healthy dose of athletic activity, including sailing, horseback riding, football, baseball, hockey and boxing. After contracting polio at the age of 39 and losing the use of his legs, Roosevelt continued to appreciate sports as a spectator and could not resist engaging in armchair coaching. In the letter, F.D.R. offered this aside to the Baseball Writer’s Association: I am the kind of fan who wants to see plenty of action for his moneymy idea of the best [baseball] game is one that guarantees the fans a combined score of not less than fifteen runs, divided about eight to seven.