John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson
Opening Day, Griffith Stadium, Washington, D.C.
April 10, 1961

There was an old Washington baseball adage that went "First in war, first in peace, last in the American League." Nevertheless, old Griffith Stadium, home of the Washington Senators, was still the place where politics and baseball came together on Opening Day. I still remember how excited I was about covering the opener, even though I knew I'd have my back to the game for the entire nine innings. I was only 18 years old, and the idea of spending three hours just 20 feet in front of President John F. Kennedy and Vice President Lyndon Johnson, plus a virtual who's who of government leaders, was much more thrilling than shooting any baseball game could ever be. Once I got over the excitement of where I was and who I was photographing, though, one thing became very clear: I wasn't getting very good pictures. Kennedy had thrown out not one, but two ceremonial first pitches, but to put it bluntly, his delivery was not impressive. My camera at the ready, I waited for something better to happen: Maybe Kennedy would eat a hot dog. With luck, he might even end up with a little mustard on his lip. Johnson ate one, but that still wasn't the picture I was looking for. Kennedy never ended up ordering his dog, but he did don a fedora--not a bad picture--but I got my best picture when a foul ball came dangerously close to the Presidential box. The President, Vice-President, Democratic and Republican leaders of both houses of Congress, all leaning to the left. Surely it had to be the most bipartisan moment of 1961.


The Best of Leifer
The Best of Leifer

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