JFK demonstrates that, back in the day, first pitches were thrown ... from the stands?
Players used to fight for presidential first pitches
Baseball's 1961 was a special season. It was the year Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth's single-season home run record and the first year of the 162-game season (in the American League, at least). That season was also the first for the Twins in Minnesota - the franchise had been the Washington Senators the previous year.
And what better way to kick off such an extraordinary year than with a presidential first pitch? President John F. Kennedy was present for Opening Day in Washington, D.C., as the new Washington Senators (an expansion team that filled the void left behind by the Twins) opened play for their inaugural season.
President Kennedy threw the ball from the stands, a tradition that died out during the Nixon administration. Basically, players used to stand in a scrum like when you played "Jackpot" as a kid. They'd all scramble to catch the souvenir as a point of pride.
The new Senators lost to the White Sox 4-3 on Opening Day, 1961, but went on to enjoy 11 seasons of baseball in the nation's capital before moving to Texas to become the Rangers. President Kennedy would go on to throw out the first pitch of the '62 season to open play at the Senators' new "D.C. Stadium" and would repeat the effort at the start of the '63 season.