The MLB network is showing old baseball games every day. On Thursday, which was supposed to be Opening Day this year, it showed a bunch of Opening Day games from seasons past.
One of the games was the Chicago Cubs 1994 opener at Wrigley Field. In this game, Karl “Tuffy” Rhodes hit three home runs for the Cubs off of Dwight Gooden, ace of the New York Mets. Rhodes hit only ten other homers in his six year career. The Mets overcame Rhodes’s heroics to win 12-8.
Hillary Clinton attended the game. At the time, she was going by Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The Clintons worked Opening Day hard that year. Bill Clinton attended the Cleveland Indians’ opener against the visiting Seattle Mariners. As far as I know, Bill Clinton had scant interest in baseball, but Hillary held herself out as a loyal fan of the Cubs.
During the 1994 opener, she promoted that image. Early on, after throwing out the first pitch (not part of the MLB network’s broadcast), she sat in a box seat wearing a Cubs jacket and cap. She then took a turn on the radio with Harry Caray and Ron Santo, and on television with Caray and Steve Stone.
She did not appear with Thom Brennaman, the other member of the broadcast team. Brennaman told Stone that Rodham Clinton probably wouldn’t want to be on the air with him, although he did not intend to discuss policy with her. It sounded like Brennaman was a conservative. Politics aside, though, it was in Hillary’s interest to maximize her time with the legendary Caray, as opposed to Brennaman who was early in his career.
During her time on television, the First Lady appeared to be a genuine and reasonably knowledgeable fan of the Cubs. She differed in this respect from Barack Obama, who touted himself as a White Sox fan but seemed to know next to nothing about the ball club (even though it had recently won the World Series). Hillary remarked that she enjoyed being on the radio with Santo, whose great playing career she had followed.
When Hillary touted her Chicago roots, Caray asked her why she didn’t attend college at Northwestern. Hillary replied that Northwestern is a fine college, but she wanted to experience a different part of the country in her college years. Translated, I think this means she wanted to escape the Midwest and head to the Northeast, where the action was.
Hillary didn’t have her Cubs cap on when she entered the television booth. Maybe she thought she looked better without it. Caray suggested that she put the cap on. She obliged.
Caray asked the First Lady to predict a winner in the upcoming NCAA Men’s Basketball final between Arkansas and Duke. Clinton correctly picked Arkansas. Perhaps she said this out of loyalty to the state where she had lived. On the other hand, Hillary was done with Arkansas by 1994 and it’s not clear that she ever had much affection for the state.
As the seventh inning stretch approached, Caray asked Clinton if she would sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” Caray was famous for leading the crowd in a raucous rendition of that song. She replied that she would sing it with him.
Unfortunately, the MLB network did not include this potential gem in its re-broadcast. However, a picture of the two singing accompanies this post on the home page. The event probably looks better than it sounded.
After the seventh inning, the cameras showed Clinton sitting in the bleachers (according to the announcers) surrounded by regular Cubs fans. Along with a contingent of worried Secret Service agents, I assume.
1994 was a terrible year for Hillary Rodham Clinton. Her proposed overhaul of our health care system failed and the Democrats were clobbered in the November election.
But at least the First Lady seems to have enjoyed her outing at the old ball game.