Presidents seal approval of Augusta

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EDITOR'S NOTE: This year, The Augusta Chronicle marks its 225th birthday by remembering some of the off-the-course history from the first full week of April.

President Warren G. Harding and his wife, Florence, enjoy a baseball game at Augusta's old Warren Park in April 1923.   Reese Library Special Collections, Augusta State University
Reese Library Special Collections, Augusta State University
President Warren G. Harding and his wife, Florence, enjoy a baseball game at Augusta's old Warren Park in April 1923.

Golf. Baseball. And presidents.

Augusta has long traditions with all three, and there is probably no better example than the account in The Augusta Chronicle 87 years ago today.

President Warren G. Harding and his wife were in town for an extended visit.

After a morning round of golf at the Augusta Country Club, which the newspaper said Harding played daily, the first couple went to old Warren Park to watch an exhibition baseball game between the Detroit Tigers and a team from Toronto.

The Tigers often played in Augusta because they featured hometown favorite Ty Cobb, whose home on Williams Street was not that far from the president's rooms at the Bon Air Hotel.

The Chronicle 's reporter noted that the president, who shook hands with Cobb before the game, "carefully" kept a scorecard of the contest, which Detroit won 9-2. Mrs. Harding also enjoyed herself and seemed to be a knowledgeable and enthusiastic baseball fan.

The next day the president would play at Aiken's Palmetto Golf Club, have lunch at the Willcox Inn, then watch a special polo match in his honor.

It was the sort of over-the-top activity presidents have gotten when they came to Augusta over the years, including the first president, George Washington.

His visit in 1791 is most remembered by a visit to the Academy of Richmond County -- one of the nation's oldest high schools.

Where he actually slept has long been debated. Although the homes of prominent Augustans have been suggested over the years, most historians think Washington probably stayed at a local inn, long since vanished.

Golf brings people here this week, and it has brought presidents in the past.

President Eisenhower, an avid golfer and member of the Augusta National Golf Club, came to the Garden City dozens of times.

Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush also came to Augusta with golfing on their minds. William Howard Taft, like Harding, was an early Augusta golf enthusiast.

Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, William McKinley, Zachary Taylor, Martin Van Buren, Millard Fillmore, Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes and James Monroe have also visited. And President Franklin Roosevelt is believed to have spent the night in Augusta on his private train car during a trip to Warm Springs, Ga.

The president who spent the most time in Augusta was Woodrow Wilson, who lived here for 13 years as the son of a Presbyterian minister.

When President Clinton visited Augusta in 1997, he cited a report in this newspaper that it would be easier to remember the presidents who had not come to Augusta than to remember all the ones who had.

Augusta would give him no argument.

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jamesnewsome 04/04/10 - 06:02 am
As always thumbs up for an

As always thumbs up for an excellent mini-history lesson!

Riverman1 04/04/10 - 06:37 pm
Echoing what James said, that

Echoing what James said, that was informative. The fact about Eisenhower I've always liked is that he actually spent more time in Augusta than he spent in Washington.

WesleyFricks 04/04/10 - 08:23 pm
One thing not noted in this

One thing not noted in this article was that President W.G. Harding, along with his wife, came out to Warren Park specifically to meet Ty and watch him play baseball.

This was not the only time Mrs. Harding visited Warren Park to see Ty play.

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 04/04/10 - 09:58 pm
Cobb was the best.

Cobb was the best.

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