Over the holiday, I spent a little time in Bryan/College Station, Texas, on the way to a 4th of July get-together at a lake house in the area.
Besides being the site of Texas A & M University, College Station is also the proud home of the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum, which was allowing free admission on the 4th.
To get the day off to a patriotic start, we took a tour and I discovered a little story about the first Mr. Bush in the White House that I couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard before and wanted to share.
First of all, I recommend a visit and tour of the Bush library to anyone. The grounds, the exhibits and the entire presentation of President Bush’s life, political career and time in the Oval Office are entirely impressive. You will not be disappointed.
I was told a great little story about the former President while I was discovering the replica of the Oval Office.
But first, a little backstory about my professional past. Before relocating to Southern California, I lived in Omaha, home of the College World Series.
While working for the local paper, I wrote my share of CWS stories, but one in particular was memorable. It was about a former Yale first baseman who went on to field the country’s highest office – yes, George Bush.
Bush played for the Yale teams that were part of the original CWS field in 1947 and again in 1948, back when the games were played in Kalamazoo, Mich.
Anyway, one year I was assigned the profile of George Bush the baseball player, I believe the year his son attended the series when he was in office.
I’m a sports history buff so I enjoyed reporting that piece tremendously and got to interview some of his former teammates, although not the former President himself.
Well, you can call it reporter’s remorse, but more than a decade later I came across a little tidbit I would love to have known at the time.
The museum part of the tour stages some of settings of Mr. Bush’s life, such as Camp David and the situation room for the Iraq war, but really, naturally, the pinnacle is the replica of the Oval Office.
When you enter the room, you’re encouraged to sit behind the presidential desk and have your photo taken – thus the camera you find yourself facing.
Anyway, after I had my photo taken, a library volunteer told me to open the desk drawers and look around. I found my story in the second draw from the top on the left.
There, beneath glass, is President Bush’s baseball glove from Yale. I was told he kept it in a drawer of every desk he ever had.
“He was very sentimental about his experience with those players,” the volunteer said.
As you can see, the glove is weathered and worn, as any good baseball glove should be, and quite small. Modern gloves are bushel baskets by comparison.
And fielding is what Bush was known for, not his bat. He was a career .240/.250 hitter, which was the crux of my piece all the those years ago.
Neither Yale team won the title, but, according to an Associated Press story you can search out, the surviving teammates have a bond to this day, according to Bush’s teammate, Norm Felske.
“When you go to the Yale Club, you go in the bar and you’ll see pictures of the 1947 and 1948 Yale baseball teams,” Felske told the AP. “With a few breaks, we probably would’ve won at least one of those years. But, when you think about it, our first baseman became president. Wow, how about that?”
Editor’s note: I’ve got one more post coming about my Texas trip and then we’re back to our regularly scheduled programming.