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You can now read Richard Nixon's personal letters to Darryl Strawberry and other big leaguers

It's early 1986. Whitney Houston is on the radio, Top Gun is in theaters, and Darryl Strawberry is in a hitting slump. A fan sits down to write Straw a letter of encouragement. That fan is former President Richard Nixon.

Twenty-eight years later, the letter is part of Play Ball! Presidents and Baseball, a new exhibit at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, in Yorba Linda, Calif. If it wasn't clear from the Strawberry anecdote, Nixon took a serious interest in the national pastime:

During his post-presidential years [Nixon] wrote personal letters to some of his favorite players, and several will be on display for the first time. These include notes to Yankees pitcher Dave Righetti on his Fourth of July no-hitter, which the President witnessed in-person...and a congratulatory letter to Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan on his Major League-record seventh no-hitter.

In 1969, after expressing some career choice remorse, Nixon was made an honorary member of the BBWAA. But he wasn't the only president who loved baseball -- since Abraham Lincoln skipped out of meetings to play ball on the White House lawn, commanders-in-chief have been a part of the national pastime. The exhibit also includes:

a Babe Ruth signed ball to Herbert Hoover's daughter-in-law Margaret Hoover, Harry Truman's glove and baseball he used to throw out the first pitch at the American League opener in 1955, and a ball signed by Honus Wagner to one of his lifelong fans, Dwight Eisenhower.

On April 15, Tommy Lasorda spent some time among the artifacts, one of which is baseball-themed telephone he gifted to President George H. W. Bush. Asked what he thought about the exhibit, Lasorda said, "It's beautiful here."