A new exhibit featuring President John F. Kennedy the sportsman is aimed at raising awareness for physical fitness but it also shows off some items he received in office that are now priceless pieces of history.
The Museum at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston recently unveiled a special display of archival material that focuses on President Kennedy’s love of sports as well as his challenge to the nation to become more active and physically fit.
Kennedy grew up in a family devoted to athletic activity. Tennis, swimming, football, water skiing, sailing, skating and skiing were Kennedy family staples. As President, John Kennedy used his love of sports and athletics as a springboard to address a decline in physical fitness throughout the nation. He re-invigorated the President’s Council on Physical Fitness, encouraging Americans to take physical fitness seriously. The effort, associated with the future health and competitive readiness of America, was seen as very much part of JFK’s “New Frontier.”
Included in the exhibit is a football Kennedy was given by the 1962 U.S. Navy football team — signed by the team’s players and coaches, including future Dallas Cowboys star Roger Staubach and assistant Navy coach Steve Belichick, father of New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.
Also on display is a personalized 1963 Pro Bowl team autographed football signed by the likes of Vince Lombardi, Bart Starr and Johnny Unitas, Kennedy’s VIP National League and American League baseball park passes; and a tongue-in-cheek letter from the Boston Patriots inviting him to try out as a receiver, the golf clubs and golf bag he used at the Palm Beach, Burning Tree and Hyannis Port Golf Clubs, the baseball thrown out by President Kennedy at the 1962 opening day game between the Washington Senators and Detroit Tigers, Robert F. Kennedy’s Harvard football jersey and Joseph P. Kennedy’s Harvard University baseball sweater.
See more items including enlarged photos at JFKLibrary.org