Video: Winthrop Roosevelt no help as William Howard Taft pushes Teddy around in his debut race

Winthrop Roosevelt at Nationals ParkWilliam Howard Taft Tackles Abe LincolnPresidents Race William Howard Taft Tackles Teddy RooseveltWilliam Howard Taft Tackles Teddy RooseveltWinthrop Roosevelt was on hand to cheer on his great-great grandfather for the opening day presidents race at Nationals Park, but the Nats’ newest racing president established himself as an enforcer who was prepared to put himself between Teddy and the finish line.

The direct descendent of Theodore Roosevelt ushered in the 2013 season with a shout of “Play Ball” before the first pitch, drawing cheers from the record opening day crowd despite the Nats’ unfortunate misspelling of his name on the HD scoreboard (it read “Wintrhop”).

A Bryce Harper first-pitch home run and 4 nearly-perfect Stephen Strasburg-pitched innings later, the Nationals’ new racing president William Howard Taft (the Nats plan to call him “Bill”) made his presidents race debut.

Winthrop Roosevelt was recruited to hold the presidents race finish line and cheered loudly for his namesake, but Taft established his new role quickly, shoving Abraham Lincoln to the ground as they ran along the outfield warning track.

After Jefferson tripped on the fallen Lincoln, Taft chased down Roosevelt, slamming him into the right field wall before both fell to the ground.

With George Washington crossing the finish line alone, Bill and Teddy rose to their feet and got into a shoving match in the foul territory below section 133.

The Nationals are clearly out to establish Taft as the presidents race villain and new nemesis for Teddy Roosevelt. Who knows where this will lead, but those who thought Teddy’s brief playoff winning streak would carry into the new season were sorely disappointed.

More photos and observations from opening day 2013 to follow.

Video courtesy of YouTube member lfahome

Nationals introduce William Howard Taft (Photos, Video)

Nationals New Racing President William Howard TaftNationals Racing President William Howard TaftWashington Nationals Racing Presidents with TaftThe Washington Nationals introduced their new racing president Saturday at the team’s NatsFest fan festival.

With a packed crowd gathered around the NatsFest mainstage, Nationals broadcaster Charlie Slowes welcomed the fifth presidents race regular as “The Big Chief,” a reference to Taft’s years as Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Slowes proceeded to interview the Big Chief, rather awkwardly given that the former president was of course silent; but one thing was made clear. Taft is not here to make friends. When Slowes mentioned the other presidents, the packed crowd burst into chants of “Teddy, Teddy, leading the Rough Rider to come out from behind the stage and confront his old nemesis Taft.

After the festivities, Taft immediate stung back at Teddy, tweeting “It was lovely meeting all the fans and my only real competition – George, Tom & Abe – at #NatsFest today.”

Immediate reactions on Twitter seemed to focus on Big Bill’s girth, or lack thereof:

@KirbysLeftEye He doesn’t look very fat.

@gregjbarry too thin.

@DavidYoungTBLA insufficiently corpulent

@MMisurek he should be MUCH more hefty #335lb

@jasontfisher3 not big enough

@ChiefAgitator Prez Taft was MUCH fatter

@mrsplacedsoul shouldn’t he be more… well… more?

Full video below, courtesy of front row mainstay and Rubber Chicken Man Hugh Kaufman:

Nationals new racing president: William Howard Taft

William Howard Taft is the Washington Nationals’ new racing president, joining George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt in the team’s fourth-inning presidents race.

Nationals Racing President William Howard TaftThe peerless Dan Steinberg broke the story for The Washington Post late Friday, in advance of the team’s official announcement planned for today at NatsFest, the Nationals’ mid-winter fan festival at the DC Convention Center. “Bill,” as the Nats will call him, will make his official appearance at 2:15pm.

Taft, who also served as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, has been nicknamed “Big Chief” by the Nats brass. A Twitter account appeared Friday evening at @NatsBigChief27, signaling the prominent role the team plans for him in social media. He is just the second racing president to have his own Twitter account.

Taft had been pegged as a 35-to-1 longshot on this page just this morning, but apparently Teddy Roosevelt himself made the decision to go with the notoriously obese Republican who succeeded him as president.

“Teddy has handpicked the next president for the Presidents’ Race,” Nationals COO Andy Feffer told Steinberg. “There was a great amount of banter and discussion back and forth, but Teddy won out with his recommendation.”

If Big Bill is to in fact displace Teddy as a fan favorite, it would not be the first time that Roosevelt hand-picked his successor. At the beginning of his second term, Roosevelt tapped the former judge to be his Secretary of War, then four years later campaigned aggressively for Taft and helped hand him the White House.

It wasn’t long, however, before Roosevelt concluded that Taft had abandoned his progressive ideals, and became one of President Taft’s most vocal critics. Roosevelt ultimately formed the Progressive “Bull Moose” Party to run against his former colleague.

Looks like more than enough fodder for 4th-inning antics to come. Photos to follow.

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