1937 baseball film captures rare images of FDR walking

Rare footage of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt walking, aided by braces on his legs as well as several Secret Service agents, has been made public after nearly 80 years.

The 1937 footage, unveiled by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, shows the then-president in Washington, D.C.; but it’s not at the White House or Capitol. Instead, the setting is former big league ballpark Griffith Stadium, where that year’s Major League Baseball All-Star Game was hosted. The footage was shot by MLB pitcher James DeShong on his personal 8mm movie camera.

The eight seconds of footage depicts one of the few times that President Roosevelt was caught walking on film. The president, crippled by Polio, had trouble walking without help and did not want the public to see his disability.


“We were thrilled with the discovery of a new piece of film footage of Franklin Delano Roosevelt walking,” said filmmaker Ken Burns, who will be using the footage in an upcoming documentary. “Any film of him struggling to get from one place to another is extremely rare, as the Secret Service either prohibited or confiscated cameras whenever FDR was making an attempt to propel himself from his car to anywhere else.”

Roosevelt is not the only star of the footage, however. The likes of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Lefty Grove, Dizzy Dean and other baseball all-stars can be seen throughout the five-and-a-half minute video.