The contents of a newly revealed diary show that George Romney, former governor of Michigan, was so obsessed with the game of baseball that he named his son after a baseball mitt.
"I know I am perhaps dooming my son to a life of failure and frustration naming him Mitt, but I’m hoping that he will be inspired and become a relief pitcher for the Detroit Tigers," the elder Romney said in the diary, dated 1958.
Romney, who passed away in 1995, was governor of Michigan from 1963 to 1969, and is the father of current Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney.
In the diary, Romney confessed to neglecting his wife and family by attending baseball games, and that he had asked his wife for an "open marriage," in which she would understand his long absences at Tiger Stadium.
"I fully realize my weakness for the game has been a hardship to my family and that I have not always been forthright with my wife," he confessed. "I have been less than truthful and I have made mistakes, for example, telling my wife I was going to the corner store, and then attending a double header and telling her I got held up in traffic. I truly feel bad about this, but I needed a release from the pressures of my job."
The diary, which was made public for the first time Thursday, also revealed what Romney confessed was a serious substance addiction to foot-long hot dogs and peanuts.
"I know," he said, "that I have my deficiencies, but I also know that greatness resides within me, and I hope also for my son Mitt."
The tone of the diary however becomes bitter when the elder Romney draws the conclusion that his son would not seek a baseball career, but follow him into politics instead. In another entry dated, June, 1959, Romney notes his disappointment.
"I don’t know how I can take it," he said. "I got the boy on the Rotary Club Pony League team, among the children of the richest men in town. I ordered uniforms with monogrammed silk nametags which no other team in the league, for example Lions Club has, and the boy won’t cooperate. I convinced the coach that because of my importance, Mitt should start as pitcher, but when he comes to the plate to bat he won’t swing at a pitch. He tries for a walk. He always tries the easy way.
Is he afraid to swing at the ball when he’s at bat, is he a pansy, a sensitive boy? Between innings he goes to the bench and reads the Book of Mormon. He will never make the Big Leagues this way. What am I going to do?"
The elder Romney said he eventually took over the duties of coaching the team himself in an effort to get his son interested in the game. Despite this, Rotary Club had a losing season and was defeated in the playoffs by a team sponsored by a local business, Stillman’s Drug Store.
"I put my son in as starting pitcher because he was the only one who could get the ball over the plate," Romney explained.
Romney in the diary refers to his son as a real disappointment.
"All I ever wanted him to be was the next Mickey Mantle," he said.
The elder Romney accused his son of being indifferent and distant to other members of his team, of not being able to relate to others. He also noted that the son had attempted to make a profit by selling picture postcards of himself to the parents of other players at greatly inflated prices.
"He tries to sell them for $3 a postcard," Romney Senior stated. "I would have only charged $2."
On the campaign trail, Mitt Romney declined comment about the disclosures in the diary, but said his father and he had had a contentious relationship.
"I loved my father, but I’m not going to lie and say we were close," Mitt Romney said. "My father coached not for me, but to look good for his pals in Rotary Club. We never did anything together just the two of us. It was always my mother in between us. My father didn’t teach me how to stand up to bullies like Newt Gingrich, or even teach me the birds and the bees.
We were not close," he added.
Romney Junior said he had no regrets about not entering baseball.
"I’ve made more money in venture capital," he said. "Right now, I’m trying out for a much higher league, the presidency. That’s a game I don’t have to share with other players."