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President Kennedy Throws Out First Pitch at D.C. Stadium

Apr. 8, 1963 - A labor dispute almost kept President Kennedy from celebrating the traditional rites of spring today. But expert pinch hitting by Secretary of Labor W. Willard Wirtz permitted him to open the big-league baseball season as usual. Secretary Wirtz intervened at the last minute in a strike of food-and-drink vendors against District Sportservice, Inc., the concessionaire at D.C. Stadium. His efforts resulted in the lifting of a picket line thrown around the stadium by Local 473 of the Hotel and Restaurant Employees’ International Union. With the pickets withdrawn, the President proceeded to the stadium, threw out the first pitch, and settled back to watch the expected happen. It did. The Baltimore Orioles defeated Washington’s beloved but bedraggled Senators, 3-1. The President’s throw — straighter and harder than most Chief Executives have managed — almost clipped a photographer’s head. It was caught by Ken Retzer, a Washington catcher, who then retired to the bench for the afternoon. In the nine innings that followed, President Kennedy smoked a cigar, ate a hot dog, downed some popcorn and a Coke, exchanged greetings with Washington left fielder Minnie Minoso, and exchanged jovial remarks with Rep. Charles A. Halleck, House Republican leader, during the seventh-inning stretch.

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