Fred Vinson and the National Pastime
Green Bag Almanac & Reader, 2010
7 Pages Posted: 2 Jun 2010 Last revised: 8 Feb 2012
Date Written: January 1, 2010
Frederick M. Vinson enjoyed an extraordinary career in public service, from City Attorney for Louisa, Kentucky (1914-15), to Chief Justice of the United States (1946-53), with several important stops in the federal executive and judicial branches in between. Even as he rose in office, with the associated elevations in personal and professional prestige and power, he continued to find time to watch, and occasionally play, baseball. An accomplished player in his youth, Vinson retained a love for baseball and a deep appreciation for the game throughout his adult life.
Vinson played baseball as a schoolboy, and went on to become a star at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, where he played shortstop and helped the team win three state championships. Vinson then moved on to play for various semi-professional baseball teams in and around Kentucky. Finally, turning down a tryout for the St. Louis Browns, Vinson stopped played semi-pro baseball and spent more time pursuing careers in law and politics.
In his mature years Vinson did from time to time take the field for fun or bragging rights. He played, for example, on the Democratic side in the annual inter-party Congressional baseball game while he was serving in the House of Representatives (1924-29, 1931-38). Vinson remained a fan of the annual game even after he left Congress. His social calendar kept by his assistant at the Supreme Court noted the game each May. In 1951, the calendar even notes that he brought Justice Sherman Minton along with him. When he was serving as a judge, Vinson could be relied upon to tell each crop of law clerks about the news coverage of the 1928 Congressional game, which included a report of Vinson’s running from the shortstop position all the way back into left field to catch a ball. On one occasion, Vinson also took his brother to the exact spot where he had made a great catch during one of the games. As he grayed, though, Vinson was more often to be found in the stands, where he was a relatively frequent and prominent celebrity spectator.
What follows is a short photographic review of the love affair between Vinson and America’s national pastime.
Keywords: Fred Vinson, Fred M. Vinson, Justice Vinson, baseball
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