Barack Obama is President # 44. That number is going to be on the license plate for his limo. In baseball the number 44 is associated with some big sluggers. However, as I’ve written before, Obama is a fan of pitching over hitting. When Mr. Obama speaks to Chicago White Sox General Manager Kenny Williams, he always asks about pitching first.
This makes sense. Success in politics, and in life, is a series of small steps that lead to the larger payoff. Home runs are great, but it is keeping the other guy from scoring and remaining in command of the situation that will leads to victory.
Which sluggers have worn number 44? Glad you asked.
There is Willie McCovey. Seen below playing first base.
Reggie Jackson. Seen below after his playing days.
And Hank Aaron. Not seen below at all.
McCovey, Jackson, and Aaron were all very successful. But I hope our current number 44 sticks with what got him where he is today. Just working it one methodical pitch after the other until the goal is reached.
I found this an agreeable revelation. Pitching and fielding involve a measure of strategy and sophistication in contrast to the vulgarity of the home run. 1-0 or 2-1 are the ideal baseball scores.
Home runs are jarring. The idea of one swing producing as many as four runs is to me a violation of the context and proportion that I think forms the basis of legitimacy. A baseball game should be a slowly rising crescendo with the final note being a last out that seals a narrow lead. Home runs are events onto themselves that overwhelm the flow of the game. They are as much a stunt as anything else.
I can see Senator Obama as a fan of pitching. Tight. Controlled. Disciplined. Throwing every pitch like it mattered. Not looking for the home run and not losing his game when the other guy scores a run.
The best Major League pitcher of all time was Walter Johnson (Above) . Mr. Johnson played for the Washington Senators between 1907 and 1927. A winner of 417 games, no pitcher ever pitched so well for so long.
Mr. Johnson was later elected a Montgomery County, Maryland County Commissioner and in 1940 was a Republican candidate for the U.S. Congress. Mr. Johnson lost 53-47 to Democrat William Byron.
A candidate for best Negro League pitcher ever is Satchel Paige (Below) . Mr. Paige pitched in the Negro Leagues from 1927 well into the 1950′s. He also was Major League pitcher between 1948 and 1953. Mr. Paige threw a wide variety of pitches and was known as the best not just among Negro League observers, but by baseball fans of the white-only leagues as well.