COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KBTX) – From his playing days at Yale, to supporting his favorite teams like the Aggies and Astros, George H.W. Bush loved baseball.
Baseball started young for the 41st president. As Yale's team captain, Bush led the Bulldogs to the first two College World Series.
His love of the game stayed true all the way to his retirement in College Station. Former A&M baseball coach Mark Johnson remembers his first meeting with the president.
"It was 1993, we were getting ready to go to the World Series," Johnson said. "We had a couple more practices and we were on our way. All of a sudden, an entourage comes through those gates up there, the office gates and people in suits and ties. I was a mess and sweaty but you know, you'd like to do better with the president you know."
Bush watched practice and gave the team a pep talk before the trip to Omaha and even stayed for autographs.
Johnson said, "This is the ball that he signed at Olsen Field for me and it's a special ball. I've got some special balls in my collection and this is one of the most special. It ranks pretty high."
It was the first of many encounters 41 had with Aggie baseball.
Current Texas A&M head baseball coach Rob Childress said, "President Bush is one of those guys that we come in contact with maybe once or twice in your lifetime that when you're talking to him, he makes you feel like what you have to say in that moment is the most important thing in the world. That's a special gift that not many people have."
Childress also led his club before the eyes of 41. In 2016, the Aggies welcomed Yale for a three-game set at Olsen Field. The Aggies sported red, white, and blue uniforms to honor the president. Yale wore the same style uniform Bush wore in the 1950s.
"It was probably, if not the highlight of my career here at Texas A&M, one of the top two or three," said Childress. "Just felt like I had goosebumps being a part of that moment."
Stephen Kolek was a freshman pitcher at the time. He got to catch 41's ceremonial first pitch.
"Right before he threw it, when I did get to catch it, I squatted down and he told me, 'I'm going to throw you a curve ball.'"
No matter when or how you met the president, there was always one constant.
"Every encounter I had with him, he was just like you and me. I just really enjoyed it and he just really gained my favor and think he was just really, really special when he came out there," said Johnson.