January 2016

Author 
Jeanette Elliott, Collections Relocation Coordinator

Usually at this point in the winter season most Canadians are ready for a break from the weather; a “seventh-inning stretch” so to speak. We long for warm sunshine and green grass and our thoughts turn to pleasant summer pastimes like picnics, trips to the beach, or playing a good old-fashioned game of baseball.

Base Ball Team
From the Fanshawe Pioneer Village postcard collection

The origin of the seventh-inning stretch is a little muddled, but one popular theory credits baseball enthusiast William Howard Taft, 27th President of the United States. While attending the Opening Day game between the Washington Senators and Philadelphia Athletics on April 14, 1910 the President, a tall and rather rotund man, became increasingly uncomfortable on his wooden chair. When he rose in the middle of the seventh inning to stretch his frame, his fellow spectators followed his lead as a sign of respect for their leader. The tradition could date to an earlier time as a letter written in 1869 by Cincinnati Red Stockings manager Harry Wright reported “The spectators all arise between halves of the seventh inning, extend their legs and arms and sometimes walk about. In so doing they enjoy the relief afforded by relaxation from a long posture upon hard benches.” Whatever its origin, the tradition of the seventh-inning stretch continues to be observed today in the ...