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The Seventh-Inning Stretch

Jun 19, 2019

It’s summer, or at least that’s what the calendar says.  Summer is when many of us head to the ball park to catch a baseball game.  Baseball has a tradition, unlike no other major sport in America, called the “seventh-inning stretch”.  Of the other three major sports; football and basketball have halftimes, while hockey has an intermission between each period.  So where did the idea of the seventh-inning stretch come from and why is it practiced today?

Depending on what you believe there are several theories behind the stretch.  One of the most popular involves President William Howard Taft.  First, let’s give President Taft his due, he is credited with launching the tradition of the Presidential first pitch on opening day.  He was also known as one of our larger Presidents, coming in at 6’-2’’ and 300 pounds.  Apparently, President Taft was at a game between the Senators and Athletics and by the seventh inning he was feeling very uncomfortable and decided to standup and stretch his legs.  Of course, everyone thinking the President was leaving also stood up and when President Taft sat back down, so did everyone else.

Another theory is that Brother Jasper of Mary, F.S.C, the man credited with bringing baseball to Manhattan College, was both the Prefect of Discipline and the baseball coach.  In 1882, at a game on a muggy day, Brother Jasper noticed that the students in the stands were getting restless and called for a time-out. He instructed everyone in the bleachers to stand up and unwind.  This became a tradition at the college, which spread to the major league through the former New York Giants (now the San Francisco Giants) and continued from there.  History also shows that in 1869, long before Brother Jasper, a letter written by Cincinnati Red Stockings manager Harry Wright noted that fans at hometown games got up between the halves of the seventh inning to stretch and walk around.

So, the next time you’re at a baseball game, and the seventh inning-stretch is called, you will be armed with a bit of history to share with the fans around you. Or if you are having one of those days, get up from your desk and stretch your legs, you might have the urge to sing “Take Me Out to The Ballgame”.

Bonus Fact:

Many know the tradition of singing “Take Me Out to The Ball Game” during the stretch.  This was made famous when the late Harry Carey was the announcer for the Chicago Cubs and would lead the entire stadium in song.

Source:  History Channel

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