Mitchell: From Walter O’Malley to Rob Manfred: Bernie Sanders’ baseball journey

From SABR member Lincoln Mitchell at Bent Knees and Raised Fists on January 16, 2020:

Many of our recent presidents have had an interesting relationship with baseball. George W. Bush, like his father, was a legitimate fan who still frequently attends Texas Rangers games, and was the managing general partner of the Texas Rangers before becoming governor of Texas. Barack Obama was more of a basketball than a baseball fan, but had his baseball moments as well. Most memorably, as part of his preparation for throwing out the first pitch in the 2009 All-Star Game, Obama had some special coaching from Willie Mays. Donald Trump played baseball as a youth and was considered a very good ballplayer. However, his boast that he was the best baseball player in New York in the early 1960s might have come as news to Mickey Mantle among others.

Of the candidates running for President today, the one who has the most intriguing relationship with baseball is Bernie Sanders. A lot can be understood about Sanders from looking at his relationship to the country of baseball, but it is also very evident that Sanders enjoys the game. Sanders grew up in a time and place, Brooklyn in the 1940s and 1950s when almost all young boys played and enjoyed playing ball. Moreover, judging from how he handles the bat and glove at 78, it is evident that he must have been pretty good at it. In these videos, particularly the one of him taking batting practice, Sanders not only drives the ball well for a man of his years, but has some pretty sound fundamentals. Notice how he keeps his head down and his eyes focused on the ball. These are not the actions of somebody who has never swung a bat before.

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Originally published: January 16, 2020. Last Updated: January 16, 2020.