George H.W. Bush: Late president was passionate sports fan

George H.W. Bush examines the baseball before Game 5 of the 2017 World Series at Minute Maid Park in Houston.

Credit: Tom Pennington

Credit: Tom Pennington

George H.W. Bush examines the baseball before Game 5 of the 2017 World Series at Minute Maid Park in Houston.

George H.W. Bush was more than a politician and diplomat. The 41st president of the United States, who died Friday night at 94, was an avid sports fan, with baseball his burning passion.

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Not only did Bush root hard for the Houston Astros, he also played the game. As a lanky. Left-handed first baseman at Yale, Bush led the Bulldogs to the first two College World Series in 1947 and 1948, ESPN reported. Yale was runner-up both times, losing to California in '47 and the University of Southern California in '48. Bush was the Bulldogs' captain his senior season at Yale.

Bush kept his old Yale baseball glove in an Oval Office desk drawer during his presidency, ESPN reported. in the White House.

Bush also captained his high school baseball team, KHOU reported.

Bush was a regular visitor to Houston Astros games at Minute Maid Park, and got to see his adopted hometown team stage a memorable World Series victory against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

"I was honored to know President George H.W. Bush," Astros president for business operations Reid Ryan said, the Houston Chronicle reported. "is love for our country and all things American made a lasting impression on me.

"He treated people with respect and always put family first. These are life lessons we should all emulate."

George and Barbara Bush had two seats behind home plate at Minute Maid Park and were always accommodating to fans, former Astros owner Drayton McLane told KHOU.

“They love the players, they love the fans. I have never, ever, seen a fan come down and ask the President or Mrs. Bush for an autograph that they wouldn’t do it,” McLane told the television station.

Astros pitcher Justin Verlander tweeted a tribute to Bush late Friday night.

Bush delivered a ceremonial first pitch for the Astros before Game 3 of the 2015 American League Championship Series between the Astros and Royals, the Chronicle reported. He also joined his son, former president George W. Bush, for the first pitch before Game 5 of the 2017 WOrld Series, the newspaper reported.

Bush made appearances in other sports.

He handled the coin flip at Super Bowl LI at Houston's NRG Stadium in February 2017. New England called heads, but Bush's coin toss came up tails (the Atlanta Falcons deferred), giving the Patriots the ball first.

The former president was also an avid golfer and was a regular visitor to the golf course near his vacation home in Kennebunkport, Maine.

The Walker Cup trophy was donated by his grandfather, George Herbert Walker, who was president of the United States Golf Association in 1920. Bush's father, Prescott Bush, was an eight-time club champion at Cape Arundel Golf Club in Kennebunkport, according to the World Golf Hall of Fame website. Prescott Bush also was president of the USGA in 1935.

The former president also was chairman of the First Tee Program for youth golfers and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011 as he was named in the Lifetime Achievement category.

That cemented his role as an American sportsman.