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.

Racing presidents honor Jason on Friday the 13th

Nationals racing presidents as Jason for friday the 13th by Cheryl NicholsA five game losing streak is a pretty scary thing for Nationals fans, but on Friday night at Nationals Park, the Nats racing presidents upped the ante, emerging from the centerfield starting gate wearing “Jason” masks to honor Friday the 13th.

Whatever they did, it worked, as Nats pitcher John Lannan helped break the streak and send all the bad luck the way of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

After the race, the presidents attempted to display a message for the Diamondbacks, but didn’t manage to coordinate the signs. More to follow…

Video courtesy of YouTube member shmaggie23.
Photo courtesy of Cheryl Nichols/Nats News Network

Racing Presidents get Botox treatment over All Star break

The Washington Nationals returned to town Tuesday night after a lengthy road trip that was preceded by the traditional All Star break — a two week stretch that represented the longest break of the season between games at Nationals Park.

The Washington Nationals Racing Presidents Abe Lincoln

Was Abe Lincoln's grimace too menacing for the kiddies?


With the trade deadline looming, it’s the season for surprise moves, and some fans arrived at Nationals Park expecting to see changes by general manager Mike Rizzo before the homestand concludes; but few expected a wholesale makeover of the presidents race roster.

Yet there it was on Tuesday night. Over the All Star break, every member of the Nationals racing presidents received a facelift.

The oversized caricatures of the Rushmores that first appeared in 2006 were gone — now replaced by slightly more cartoonish, smiling figures.

Was it a rumored licensing dispute with the designer that led to the change, or did the team simply think Abe Lincoln was just too menacing for the kiddies? Both the originals and the new-look racing presidents were created by Randy Carfagno Productions in New York.

No explanation yet from the Nats.

The Washington Nationals Racing Presidents

The Nationals racing presidents as we knew them (July 2006 - July 2010)

The Washington Nationals racing presidents got new costumes and a facelift courtesy of Randy Carfagno Productions

The presidents as they appeared after a 2010 All Star break facelift

Readers – What do you think of the new “botox smile” look?

New presidents photo by Flickr member Randy Carfagno

Teddy blows it twice to close Nationals’ homestand

Teddy Roosevelt cheats in the Washington Nationals presidents race at Nationals ParkWith a rare late afternoon start and temperatures in the mid-90s for the final game of this week’s homestand, the last thing anybody at Nationals Park probably wanted to do was exert themselves by running a sprint around the full length of the warning track.

So when Teddy Roosevelt saw nothing but green between himself and the presidents race finish line on Wednesday, he chose the easy route, jogging straight across the outfield.

Roosevelt’s hopes for an easy victory were dashed when the speedy Abe Lincoln caught up to him anyway. That’s when Teddy simply threw in the towel — a mistake that cost him when The Great Emancipator tripped and fell, giving George the unlikely victory.

Teddy’s only consolation: He didn’t break a sweat, and had he broken the tape instead of George, he would surely have been disqualified for cheating.

Video courtesy of YouTube member lfahome

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

Jefferson drinks a Red Bull mid-race, sprints ahead to victory

Thomas Jefferson did his best Abe Lincoln impression tonight at Nationals Park, sprinting out ahead of the other presidents for an early lead. Lacking Abe’s stamina, Tom paused to catch his breath, but fortunately he had can of Red Bull handy, drank it down, and then sprinted past his opponents again to run away with a Nationals presidents race victory.

“Honest” Abe hasn’t been himself since getting helped off the field Tuesday night.

TJ’s victory forced a rare 3-way tie atop the presidents race standings, marking the first time in more than 2 years that Teddy Roosevelt can lay claim to 2nd place …sort of.

Video courtesy of YouTube user lfahome

Presidents Race wins “Best on Field Promotion” of 2009

For the second time in their three full seasons, the Washington Nationals racing presidents have been awarded the “Golden Steagle” award for Best Contest or On Field Promotion of the year.

The award is bestowed annually by Gameops.com, a web site which connects sports teams and event producers with ideas and tools for on-field promotions. Our own racing presidents won the award in 2007 and were nominated again last year.

The 2009 award was granted jointly this year to both the Nationals presidents and Milwaukee’s racing sausages, also previous winners in 2003, and widely recognized as baseball’s original racing mascots. Gameops editor John Cudo called this year’s tie “a case of split between two great classic promotions….and an on-going battle which ends in a tie on this day.”

The Nationals mascot team mocked the racing sausages earlier this year when the Milwaukee mascots refused to race against the presidents during a Nationals homestand vs. the Brewers.

Cudo, who works for the Cleveland Cavaliers and spent 7 years as the mascot for the Minnesota Timberwolves, has written numerous times about the presidents race and claims a “mild addiction” to the Let Teddy Win blog, calling it “a season long tutorial on how to keep a promotion you do every night interesting.”

According to Cudo, the annual Best Of awards are among the most popular features of their site. Nominations come from readers and are judged by a panel of industry leaders and insiders.

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

Racing Presidents appear in Cherry Blossom Festival Parade before exhibition game vs. Orioles

Washington Nationals racing presidents in the National Cherry Blossom Festival ParadeThe Washington Nationals racing presidents continued to cement their position as DC icons with an appearance in yesterday’s National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade.

The presidents were decked in their Nationals uniforms and got to ride in style on the back of individual bicycle taxis.

It was a rare opportunity for the racing presidents to appear with the blooming cherry blossoms. Nationals Park, of course, has a much-touted row of cherry blossom trees in the centerfield plaza, but the team has yet to play a regular season game when the cherry blossoms are in bloom. With this year’s home opener scheduled for April 13 and a rainy week in the forecast, it seem likely we’ll have to wait another year to witness that spectacle.

The appearance by George, Tom, Abe, and Teddy came just hours before the first unofficial presidents race of the 2009 Nationals Park season. Last night’s annual preseason game vs. the Baltimore Orioles offered no hints that the presidents race will play out any differently for poor Teddy. He had an early lead, but failed to even finish as George Washington took the tape handily.

Photo courtesy of flickr member Rebecca Ash

Screech and the racing presidents invade Verizon Center

The Nationals racing presidents invade Verizon CenterThe Washington Nationals racing presidents joined new Nationals mascot Screech at the Verizon Center tonight for a basketball game between the last place Washington Wizards of the Eastern Conference and the last place Sacramento Kings of the West — a battle for pride which came down to the last shot.

The visit to Verizon Center was part
Screech and Teddyof a “31 Appearances in 31 Days” tour that the Nationals have arranged since the new Screech’s unveiling two weeks ago. The Nationals mascots made an appearance earlier in the day at the DC St. Patrick’s Day parade, with Screech sporting a kilt.

It was “Kids Night” for the Washington Wizards, with player introductions by junior Wizards fans, and mascots from around the DC area working the crowd before and during the game.

Joining the Nationals mascots were Mel, The George Mason University Patriot, the Baltimore Orioles’ “The Bird,” the Washington Capitals’ Slapshot, and of course the Wizards’ own G-Wiz, G-Man, and G-Fan.

The new ScreechSince its unveiling, the new look of the “teenage Screech” has been getting a lot of criticism in Nationals blogs and discussion forums. So this was a great opportunity –and a relief — to see the new Screech work a real crowd, which helped the Nationals’ new mascot look a lot less goofy than he did dancing around an empty stage when he was first announced.

Don’t get me wrong. The Capitals’ own eagle mascot Slapshot didn’t look very intimidated by the permanent grin affixed to Screech’s head, but the new costume did give Screech a lot more room to dance with the cheerleaders, bound up stairs, and throw t-shirts into the stands. I have a feeling we’ll get used to “teenage Screech” pretty quickly.

Vote for the Racing Presidents in the MLB Mascot Brackets

Our friends over at Home Run Derby are running a “mascot bracket” that pits major league baseball mascots against each other in a single-elimination popularity contest.

Yes, Screech may be the official team mascot, but HRD wisely chose the popular racing presidents to represent our beloved Washington Nationals.

Unfortunately, at the time of this writing, the San Diego Padres Swinging Friar has a lead in the voting over the Nationals’ presidents. We can’t let George, Tom, Abe, and Teddy lose out to a goofy-looking Padre. Place your vote now!

Voting ends on this Friday, August 8 at 11:00pm EST.

Racing Presidents Are Not Inspired by Angels

With Angels in town this week, the racing presidents have been anything but.

On Monday night, our favorite mascots upped the ante in the quest to win the presidents race when Teddy Roosevelt and George Washington all but mugged Abraham Lincoln in the outfield, allowing Tom to take the victory. This just one night after Teddy was hip-checked into the outfield wall by Thomas Jefferson.

washington nationals presidents race teddy and abe tripping thomas jefferson.Tonight Abe Lincoln got his revenge on a seemingly trusting Teddy. Yes, Honest Abe himself joined forces with Teddy by setting up a trip wire to take down George and Tom. Of course, Abe then pushed Teddy aside to take his 21st presidents race of this young Washington Nationals’ season.

If this is the sort of behavior inspired by the Angels, I can’t imagine what will happen when the Orioles come to town on Friday.

Photo by flickr member Bullneck.

Teddy Roosevelt Goes 0-for-Pittsburgh

The Washington Nationals’ long road trip started off with a whimper, as the team took just 1 of 3 games this week vs. the Pirates at PNC Park in Pittsburgh.

Washington Nationals Racing President Teddy Roosevelt at PNC Park in PittsburghIt was however a slightly more successful series if measured in terms of fan goodwill. The rivaly between the Washington Nationals and Pittsburgh Pirates falls somewhere between benign and nonexistent, so this year the teams decided to inject a little extra fun into the contest by sending mascots to the other team’s stadium.

After hosting the Pirates’ Racing Pierogies at Nationals Park in May, the Nationals visited Pittsburgh’s PNC Park this week with members of the Nat Pack in tow, including racing presidents George, Tom, Abe, and Teddy.

After Teddy’s disastrous turn running anchor for the presidents in relay races against the pierogies in games 1 and 2, the mascots hung up the cleats for game three today and just entertained the fans.

Kudos to Stan Kasten and the Nats organization for spreading the goodwill and putting the presidents on the road. I hope we get to see more of this type of reciprocity with other teams around the league.

Just keep the Phillie Phanatic out of Nationals Park.

Photo courtesy of Angela Calo

Video: Pirates’ Pierogies vs. Nationals’ Presidents

Thanks to psugradgirl for uploading this video of Tuesday night’s race from Pittsburgh’s PNC Park, when the Pirates’ racing pierogies, led by anchor runner Jalapeno Hanna, won a relay race vs. the visiting Washington Nationals’ racing presidents. Unfortunately, the change of venue did nothing to inspire Teddy Roosevelt, who ran the anchor leg and blew the presidents’ big lead.

Teddy Blows Relay Race vs. Pierogies in Pittsburgh

A change of venue momentarily appeared to have been the key to Teddy Roosevelt’s first victory, but the bull moose blew it on the road last night in Pittsburgh.

Washington Nationals' racing presidents Teddy and Tom with racing pierogie Jalapeno Hanna at PNC ParkAs expected, the Washington Nationals racing presidents made their first road trip with the team to appear with the racing pierogies at the Pittsburgh Pirates’ PNC Park.

The series kicked off last night with a relay race pitting Pittsburgh’s own racing pierogies vs. Washington’s racing presidents. George Washington led off the race for the presidents and handed off to speedster Abe Lincoln who, in typical fashion, sprinted ahead of the field, ensuring a solid lead for racing president Thomas Jefferson to hand to anchor runner Teddy Roosevelt for the final leg.

That’s where it fell apart.

Instead of running straight down the first base line for the easy victory, Teddy mugged for the crowd and started up the ramp in right field corner. Those precious wasted seconds were all that was needed for the racing pierogies to steal back the lead. Teddy figured it out too late, making a run for the finish line but falling short of Jalapeno Hanna, who gave the racing pierogies the win.

Photo courtesy of Angela Calo

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