CBS Sports and USA Today Sports finally have something good to say about a Republican. Both liberally slanted media outlets wrote glowing tributes this weekend to the late President George Herbert Walker Bush, who died Friday. CBS's Mike Axisa focused on the late President Bush's special connection with baseball, and USA Today's Christine Brennan reflected on "Genuine George H.W. Bush" and golf memories.
Brennan writes that Bush was "quite a fellow and quite the golf fan." She knew him personally because her father was the vice chairman of Bush's Ohio presidential campaign in 1988. "My father knew Bush well, welcoming him to our hometown of Toledo and throughout the state of Ohio on various national campaigns from the late 1970s through 1992." As a sports writer covering golf tournaments, she enjoyed visits with the former president on golf courses.
Bush and Brennan also met in 2003, when her father died. Three years later, she published a father-daughter memoir, Best Seat in the House. "I sent Bush a copy of the book. He sent back a beautiful, typewritten note, telling me that my story of learning to love sports through my father was at the top of his stack of summer books. It's hard to imagine a greater honor than that, for both me and my dad."
At the Ryder Cup golf tournament in Louisville in 2008, they met again at the Valhalla Golf Course. "Bush was remembering my father's love of cigars and how hard he worked on Bush's behalf on all his national campaigns. 'He was quite a fellow,' Bush told me. The same could be said of Bush, of course. It's hard to imagine anyone else of such lofty standing being as kind, thoughtful and genuine as he was."
Brennan, who notes that the amateur golf competition known as the Walker Cup is named after the late president's grandfather, writes, "It will be strange for a Ryder Cup to be held without George H.W. Bush. The two just seemed to go together. Maybe it was the sportsmanship. The goodwill. The gentlemanly nature. Whatever it was, I'll be thinking of him. He was, after all, quite a fellow."
On CBS Sports, Axisa writes that, "Long before he was President, Bush was a college baseball player, and a pretty good one at that. He was a first baseman and captain of the Yale University Bulldogs, and led the team to the first two ever College World Series in 1947 and 1948." He also discusses how, in 1947, Bush's Bulldogs played a game against Fordham College and its center fielder Vin Scully, now a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame as a broadcaster.
As vice-president in 1984, Bush played one inning at first base in an old-timer's game in Denver. The 60-year-old hit a single off former Major League pitcher Milt Pappas.
During and after his term as president, Bush stayed close to the game. He kept his college first-base mitt in a drawer in the Oval Office and also wore the glove on April 3, 1989, when he threw out the ceremonial first pitch in a season opener in Baltimore. He was the first president to actually throw such a pitch from the pitcher's mound.
In retirement, the elder Bush often attended Astros games in Houston and Rangers games in Arlington. His son, President George W. Bush, was the managing general partner of the Rangers from 1989-98. From a wheelchair in 2015, GWHB threw out the ceremonial first pitch before an American League playoff game in Houston. In 2017, he accompanied son "W" to a playoff game in Houston.
Axisa's story on Bush's association with baseball also includes a tribute by Astros owner Jim Crane, which says, in part: "President Bush was a great American who devoted his life to serving his country. He epitomized class and dignity and was a true patriot."