Palo Alto Centennial
Publication Date: Wednesday, April 13, 1994

The wrong time to be president

Herbert Hoover has the dubious distinction of being the only American president ever booed out of a major league baseball park.

The 31st president of the United States had the great misfortune to be elected in 1928, less than a year before the stock market crash triggered the Great Depression that would dominate his presidency.

Hoover's ties to Stanford University were strong enough that he once aspired to be Stanford's president, and when he was nominated for the nation's presidency by the Republicans in l928, he gave his acceptance speech from his campus residence. That residence, known as the Hoover House, is now home to Stanford presidents.

Hoover also has a claim to being Stanford's very first student. He was part of the "pioneer" class that enrolled in 1891. He later said he was the first student to sleep in the men's dormitory (Encina Hall) before the university was formally opened "and so may be said to be its first student."

Hoover biographer David Burner notes that Hoover, a geology student, was class treasurer and financial manager of the athletic association. As such, he arranged Stanford's first football game with Berkeley and helped build a baseball diamond and stands. He was also involved with various money-making ventures as a student, partially because he was an orphan without much money.

Hoover's post-Stanford career included a successful stint as manager of a gold mine in Australia and of mines in China and South America, along with involvement in a company that explored for oil deposits.

His organizational bent and his Quaker background were instrumental in catapulting him to international prominence during World War I when he organized the Commission for Relief in Belgium, which supplied food to the German-occupied country.

His work in Belgium led to his selection to President Woodrow Wilson's War Council in 1916 as United States Food Administrator, and his political career was off and running--until it was derailed by the events of 1929.

--Don Kazak