Behind the scenes at the Nationals presidents race (Video)

One thing we’re asked frequently (other then “When is Teddy gonna win?”) is whether the entire presidents race is scripted in advance.

Washington Nationals PA Announcer Jerome HruskaWhen I respond that Nationals Park PA announcer Jerome Hruska really calls the game live and unscripted, some people find that hard to believe.

So when the Nationals hosted several bloggers at the park last weekend, I made a special last-minute request, and the Nats were happy to oblige.

During the 4th-inning presidents race, the Nats allowed us to bring two video cameras up to the control room at
Nationals Park video control roomNationals Park, to give Let Teddy Win readers an inside look at the calling of the GEICO presidents race.

High above the field, a small army of directors, statisticians, and engineers communicates with camera operators and entertainment staff stationed throughout the park, mixing the feed live for the 101-foot HD scoreboard over the centerfield bleachers.

Washington Nationals PA Announcer Jerome Hruska's Presidents Race ScriptBehind a soundproof door, Hruska reads a script introducing the presidents race video, but from that point forward, the script just reads “(RACE).”

Video below. Thanks to Chad Kurz and the Washington Nationals for letting LTW readers behind the scenes.

Abe & Teddy break away in 3-legged presidents race

Livan Hernandez and the Washington Nationals celebrated the summer solstice with a 2-1 victory Monday night at Nationals Park, and what better to welcome in the summer than that classic summer staple, the 3-legged race.

George Washington was teamed with Thomas Jefferson and Abe Lincoln was teamed with Teddy Roosevelt as the race began.

With their legs tied together, George and Tom took an early lead, but they took a 1/2-minute to reach right field.

Rather than risk violating the MLB limit for time between innings, members of the Nat Pack ran out to cut the ropes. Abe Lincoln broke free first, and bolted ahead of the pack to claim the victory.

Video courtesy of YouTube member lfahome

Racing Presidents do the limbo on Ladies Night

Washington Nationals racing president Abraham Lincoln shows off his new Hawaiian shirtThursday night was the first Ladies Night of 2010 at Nationals Park, as ticket-holders were treated to a Hawaiian-themed Luau party on the Rooftop Party Deck before the game.

Not ones to miss out on a good time, the Nationals racing presidents joined in on the fun, donning Hawaiian shirts for the occasion.

After showing off new red racing uniforms in April, this marked another of the new costumes the Nationals promised we’d see in 2010.

The famous Pittsburgh Pierogies were in town for the final game of the series between the Nats and Pirates, but rather than run alongside the presidents during the 4th inning race, they were stationed along the outfield warning track, preparing the Hawaiian-themed antics for the night.

Racing presidents do the limbo at Nationals ParkAfter emerging from the centerfield gate, the racing presidents encountered a limbo pole being held by two pierogies. Teddy Roosevelt went through first, using his stature as the shortest racing president to his advantage, but the Bull Moose ducked the big stick, cheating his way under the pole.

Teddy’s shortcut gave him the lead as they then approached the hula hoops in the outfield corner, but he was too enthralled by the toys to continue, and while too-tall Abe Lincoln continued to struggle with the limbo pole, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson made a mad dash to the finish.

George Washington beats Thomas Jefferson by a Nose in the Washington Nationals presidents raceGeorge and Tom broke the tape together in a photo finish, and Nationals PA Announcer Jerome Hruska was unable to call a winner, deferring to on-field judge and Nationals Mascot Screech.

Screech made the call for George, which our photo suggests was the right call — by a nose.

This video courtesy of YouTube member lfahome captures the photo finish, and at the very end, some members of Teddy’s Texas cheering section that were in attendance Thursday.

A birds-eye view of the presidents race

Abe Lincoln extended his winning streak to 4 games at Nationals Park Saturday night, as the Let Teddy Win blog was invited once again to take part in the team’s semi-annual blogger’s night.

Nationals Park video control room

Live coverage of the presidents race from the Nationals Park video control room

For most of the bloggers in attendance, the highlights were likely the myriad interview opportunities with Nats players and management, and the opportunity to cover the game from the press box; but for this Presidents Race Fan, the high point was reporting on the race from the video control room high atop Nationals Park, where the magic is created for the stadium’s live HD scoreboard.

Nationals Park PA Announcer Jerome Hruska calls the presidents race

And the winner is... Abe!!!

It’s safe to say that Nats Park regulars would be blown away by the sheer number of people and skill required to deliver the elaborate graphics and live in-stadium coverage of every race; and speaking of that coverage, those who believe the play-by-play is all scripted need only watch Nationals PA Announcer Jerome Hruska call it live as the race unfolds on the field below.

Unfortunately, down on the field it was deja vu for Teddy fans, as Roosevelt took a huge lead before his glasses fell off, and Abe Lincoln came from behind to win for the 4th night in a row. George Washington fell into the Geico Gecko at the finish line, marking the first time in presidents race history that the sponsor was taken down.

Before the game, I had a chance to speak to catcher Ivan Rodriguez, who guaranteed that he’d be behind the plate for Stephen Strasburg’s debut on Tuesday night. With 3 networks covering and over 200 press credentials issued, the buzz is building for that sellout game. Up in the press box, there was much speculation that Tuesday could be the night for Teddy to end his streak. We can only hope…

A special thanks to Nationals Senior Manager of New Media Chad Kurz for arranging the day.

Here’s the race as seen from the stands, courtesy of YouTube member lfahome:

And here’s the race as edited live in the booth and called by Jerome:

Abe gets his revenge on Tom

Abe Lincoln Wins the Washington Nationals presidents race.What do George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and the Washington Nationals have in common? All were mathematically eliminated from any shot at a championship during the homestand that ended Thursday night at Nationals Park.

In a night filled with heroics on the field, Teddy Roosevelt looked uninspired. With Teddy lagging far behind in the 4th-inning presidents race, Abe Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson battled down the stretch once again, but this time it was Abe who prevailed.

Abe did a little dance and Jefferson bowed in reverence. For the second consecutive season, the Great Emancipator has locked up the presidents race title with several weeks still remaining. With his second crown, Abe will become the first 2-time presidents race season champion.

Teddy dresses as Santa for Christmas in July

Washington Nationals racing president Teddy Roosevelt dresses as Santa Claus for Christmas in JulyIt was Christmas in July tonight at Nationals Park, with the U.S. Marines Corps Reserves on hand all weekend collecting toys for the Toys for Tots Foundation; and for a brief time, it appeared that the fans in attendance were in store for an early gift in the form of victory for Teddy Roosevelt.

But a day after Teddy failed to win even after tackling the other presidents, only the most optimistic of Teddy supporters could be convinced that the second half of the season would be different for #26.

Washington Nationals racing president Teddy Roosevelt dresses as Santa for Christmas in JulyWashington Nationals mascot Screech provided a clue about what was in store when he appeared in a Santa Suit to take his customary place at the finish line.

When Teddy burst out of the centerfield gate in full Santa regalia, he looked unbeatable, staking a big lead as he approached the first base stands.

Unfortunately, Teddy has never been good at multitasking, and when he reached into his big red bag and began tossing Webkinz stuffed animals to the fans, the other presidents passed him by. Teddy never finished the race.

The 4th annual Toys for Tots drive continues for Saturday’s and Sunday’s games at Nationals Park. The U.S. Marines will be stationed at all gates to accept donations from gate opening until the end of the fourth inning. The toys collected will be distributed to non-profit organizations and pediatric wards in the D.C. metropolitan area.

After false start, Pittsburgh pierogie wins Nationals presidents race

Its fair to say that after almost three years of presidents race mishaps and oddities, it would be hard to imagine any result that would stun the Nationals Park crowd; but last night, the unthinkable happened.

The Pittsburgh Pirates’ racing pierogies were at Nationals Park for the final game of their 4-game series. In the 4th inning, Nationals pitcher Craig Stammen was cruising through a perfect start in his major league debut. Perhaps the quick work Stammen was making of the Pirates caught the racing presidents off guard, but when the gates opened for the mid-inning presidents race, Abe Lincoln false-started, then pulled back. The Pierogies took off, and nobody caught them. Cheese Chester was first to the finish line, marking the first time ever that a president did not win the presidents race!

It’s been tough to get any official word from the team, but indications are that this was not what they had planned.

Video by YouTube member TheTeddyRoosevelt

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