George H.W. Bush had a special connection with baseball throughout his life

Friday night, President George H.W. Bush passed away after batting health issues for years. He was 94. Bush served as the 41st President of the United States from 1989-93. Read more about his life at CBS News.

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. Here he is in uniform:

Yale finished runner-up to the University of California in 1947, and again to the University of Southern California in 1948.

Among the many players Bush competed against was a Hall of Famer: Vin Scully, the iconic broadcaster. Scully played his college ball at Fordham and he faced Bush in April 1947. Both men went 0 for 3 in the game, a 3-1 Yale victory.

According to the Society for American Baseball Research, Bush hit .224 with one home run and 28 RBI in 76 career games with Yale.

Bush kept his college first-base mitt in a drawer in the Oval Office during his term as president. He wore the mitt on April 3, 1989, when he threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the home opener at old Memorial Stadium in Baltimore. SABR credits Bush with being the first president to throw the first pitch from the pitcher's mound.

Here's video of that first pitch with Bush wearing his Yale first baseman's mitt:

In 1984, during his first term as vice president under Ronald Reagan, he played one inning at first base -- Bush was 60 at the time -- during an old-timers game in Denver, where he was attending a state convention. Bush recorded a base hit against former big-league pitcher Milt Pappas in the game.

Over the years Bush was a regular at Texas Rangers and Houston Astros games -- his son, President George W. Bush, was the managing general partner of the Rangers from 1989-98 -- and, despite being wheelchair bound, he threw out the ceremonial first pitch before Game 3 of the 2015 American League Championship Series at Minute Maid Park.

Astros owner Jim Crane released the following statement about Bush's death on Saturday morning:

"President Bush was a great American who devoted his life to serving his country. He epitomized class and dignity and was a true patriot.

"The Houston Astros had the great privilege of hosting President Bush and his wife Barbara at Astros games for many years. As loyal fans, they stuck with us through the challenging years and were there to celebrate Houston's first World Series championship in 2017. Game 5 of last year's World Series is considered the most memorable and dramatic game in Astros history. What made it even more special was that President George H.W. Bush and his son, President George W. Bush, were on the field that night taking part in the first pitch ceremony.

"As our nation mourns his passing, our entire Astros organization sends heartfelt condolences to the Bush family.  We will greatly miss him."

Bush made his final appearance on a baseball field last year, when he accompanied his son during the ceremonial first pitch before Game 5 of the 2017 World Series in Houston.

CBS Sports Writer

Mike Axisa joined CBS Sports in 2013. He has been a member of the BBWAA since 2015 and has previously written about both fantasy baseball and real life baseball for,,,... Full Bio

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