Video: Meet the Washington Nationals new racing president Herbert Hoover

Herbert Hoover Washington Nationals New Racing PresidentWashington Nationals New Racing President Herbert Hoover with Teddy RooseveltThe Washington Nationals introduced new racing president Herbert Hoover on Sunday morning’s episode of NBC’s Meet the Press. Hoover will join the presidents race beginning today at Nationals Park.

As we detailed recently, Hoover gets the designation “visiting racing president,” since he is sponsored by the White House Historical Association. Hoover replaces Calvin Coolidge, who was the Nationals’ first visiting racing president in 2015. Hoover is being featured and commemorated by the association’s 2016 Christmas ornament. This also means that the July 3 promotional giveaway — previously announced as a “racing president bobblehead,” will be a Herbert Hoover bobblehead doll.

The partnership between the Washington Nationals and the White House Historical Society is a minimum 3-year deal, which means there’s a good chance we’ll see a racing Franklin Roosevelt in 2017.

Nationals to introduce new racing president Herbert Hoover Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press

The Washington Nationals are expected to make a splash on Sunday with the introduction of a new racing president for 2016, Herbert Hoover. The 31st president will be revealed on national television by noted Nationals fan Chuck Todd on NBC’s Meet the Press.

Washington Nationals new racing president Herbert Hoover

31st U.S. president Herbert Hoover is expected to be announced as the Nationals’ new visiting racing president on NBC Sunday morning

In mid-season 2015, the Nationals introduced a sixth racing president in the form of Calvin Coolidge, but judging by all of the “where’s Calvin” questions we got yesterday on opening day, many Nats fans didn’t realize that Silent Cal was a “visiting” racing president sponsored by the White House Historical Society, which was promoting the 30th president throughout 2015 and on it’s annual Christmas ornament.

Two months ago, Nationals Chief Marketing and Revenue Officer Valerie Camillo confirmed at a Hot Stove event for season planholders that we would see another visiting president at some point in 2016. Given that the White House Historical Society is promoting Herbert Hoover in 2016, the only question was when the great humanitarian would make his appearance.

Now, thanks to alert blogger Patrick Reddington at Federal Baseball , we have the answer. Reddington caught this announcement by Chuck Todd this evening on NBC:

“This Sunday on Meet the Press I’ll have an exclusive interview with a former president of the United States who has found his way back to Washington for a new role at Nationals Park,” Chuck announced. “Who is it? What will he be doing? We will reveal on Sunday morning. I can tell you this: It is this former president’s third appearance on Meet the Press.”

Of course, no living president has been on Meet the Press only twice, but Herbert Hoover did appear exactly that many times: once in 1955, 22 years after leaving office, and again nearly four years later, on his 85th birthday, when he made a statement about the coming visit of Soviet Premier Nikita Khruschev. You can listen to the appearance here.

It seems certain that racing president Hoover (Herb? Herbie?) will make his Nationals Park debut later at Sunday’s game vs. the Miami Marlins. The Nationals featured the following tidbit in their promotional release about the current homestand: “Racing Presidents Surprise: The Racing Presidents will introduce a special guest during their race on April 10!”

For what it’s worth, Hoover is a much-misunderstood president who took much of the blame for the great depression, since the Wall Street crash of 1929 took place less than eight months after he took office. Nats fans should expect to learn a bit more about the engineer and humanitarian as the season progresses.

Teddy Roosevelt pulls the rug out from racing presidents on opening day

Teddy Roosevelt pulls the rug from racing presidentsTeddy Roosevelt wins opening day presidents race nationals racingOn a blustery opening day at Nationals Park, Teddy Roosevelt sent a message to his fellow Nats racing presidents, pulling a new trick out of his sleeve to run away with the first presidents race of the 2016 season.

The commanders-in-chief were greeted by a new Nats HD introduction video, after which Roosevelt appeared first from the center field gate. Teddy laid a welcome rug out for his fellow presidents, but as they entered the field, he pulled the rug out from under them, causing an outfield pile up.

Teddy dashed ahead unopposed, celebrating as he crossed the finish line. For now, Roosevelt can enjoy the rare distinction of being undefeated atop the presidents race standings.

Video for LetTeddyWin.com by lfahome

New safety netting, food, in-game entertainment, and racing presidents merch among changes at Nationals Park in 2016 (photos)

Washington Nationals fans and players gave several changes to the Nationals Park experience a test run on Friday as the Nationals played the first of two preseason exhibition games against the Minnesota Twins in advance of Monday’s season opener in Atlanta.

Among the most talked-about changes was the new safety netting strung from section 116 to 129 above the team dugouts (I previously wrote about its anticipated impact on the fan experience). Fans behind the dugouts, who had enjoyed eight seasons of unobstructed interaction with players, will now view the game from behind a high protective net. An informal survey of fan reactions ranged from “awful” (from fans in the first few rows) to “not as bad as I thought” from fans who sit further back.

New netting at Washington Nationals Park baseball stadium

New netting stretches above the dugout from section 116 to 129

New netting at Washington Nationals Park baseball stadium

Fans in the best seats will find their perspective affected the most

At its debut Friday night, the net certainly caught both fans and players by surprise. Many children behind the dugout followed a tradition of bringing baseball gloves to the game, and — oblivious to the net between them — screamed for players to toss them a ball at every half inning. Sadder still, a few players throughout the night forgot and tried, leading the ball to either bounce back onto the field or fall into the dugout. Old habits die hard.

Between innings, Nats fans will find that in-game host Michael Ploger has been replaced by a fresh young face named Derek. Ploger moved on to a new career as a sports reporter.

Nationals Park in-stadium host

As part of a new sponsorship deal with Anheuser-Busch, the former Miller Lite Scoreboard walk has been rechristened the Budweiser Terrace. On game days, from the time the gates open until 30 minutes before first pitch, beers at the Budweiser Terrace bar will be $5.

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The Red Loft has been renamed the Bud Light Loft, and the adjacent Beer Pen hospitality area is now the Budweiser Swing Big Beer Pen

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The Miller Lite Scoreboard Walk has been renamed the Budweiser Terrace and new signage carries a “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” theme

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Extended song lyrics are painted on the terrace steps

Food concession changes for 2016 are relatively few compared to previous years. The always-crowded Shake Shack on the terrace has been doubled in size, taking over the adjacent space once occupied by sister chain El Verano Taqueria (El Verano moves to a small freestanding kiosk nearby).

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Shake Shack has doubled in size to handle the inexplicably long lines

The Nationals’ off-season “pitch your product” contest resulted in two new food concessions. On the main concourse behind left field, Haute Dogs and Fries replaces original Nats Park vendor Hard Times Cafe. Goodbye Cincinnati Chili. Hello hot dogs with toppings like New York Reuben and Vietnamese Banh Mi, plus lamb sliders and tater tots.

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Haute Dogs and Fries replaces longtime Nationals Park vendor Hard Times Cafe (the awning touting wings and nachos will presumably be replaced soon)

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The Banh Mi Hot Dog at Haute Dogs and Fries

The other local winner, Pinch Dumpling, is up on the Gallery level, as part of a conscious effort to bring more exclusive food items to the fans in 300- and 400-level seats. The steamed or fried beef, pork, or vegetable dumplings should be a welcome addition, though I’m worried that with a price of $10 for six dumplings, its location behind the $5 Grandstand seats might not be the smartest real estate decision.

Pinch Dumplings Nationals Park

Pinch Dumplings debuted Saturday on the Gallery level behind section 302

Pinch Dumplings - Nationals Park Washington

Six Dumplings from Pinch Dumplings include your choice of side (such as slaw) for $10

Across from Pinch, two new concessions by DC restaurateur Mike Isabella are expected to open on April 7: Catchfly will feature Southern-style food such as ribs, coleslaw, popcorn chicken and waffle fries. Kapnos at the Park will have gyros, falafel, cheese steaks, fried Greek potatoes and hummus.

Mike Isabella Catchfly Kitchen and Kapnos at Nationals Park

Two new concepts by DC chef Mike Isabella, Kapnos at the Park and Catchfly Kitchen, will open on the Gallery level when the regular season begins

Wondering where your jerk chicken went? After two seasons next to the Nationals Park Kids Zone, Jammin’ Island BBQ has moved back upstairs to a cart next to the Bud Light Loft. Its previous location will be something called “MLB Knockout,” presumably an extension of the Kids Zone.

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Nursing mothers at last have an air conditioned private lounge at Nationals Park that even includes play space for toddlers. The new Lansinoh Nursing Mothers Lounge opened late last season and is located on the mezzanine at section 223.

Nursing Mothers Lounge section 223

The new Lansinoh Nursing Mothers Lounge on the mezzanine level (Photo: JDLand)

Splurging for PNC Diamond Club tickets? A complete renovation of exclusive dining area and lounge behind homeplate has dramatically expanded its capacity. The facility was stripped of most baseball memorabilia and expanded to two levels that appear to be jam-packed with chairs and tables. The expense account crowd might feel a little more like cattle with this new setup, but they’re more likely to find a table during rain delays, and the club seating no longer extends to a tent outside the stadium.

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For kids of all ages, a new pin trading station has been installed near section 138, where hundreds of pins can be purchased or simply traded, Disney-style.

Pin trading station near section 138

The Nationals pin trading station (Photo: JDLand)

Finally, the Nationals promised better selection and pricing at the Team Stores in 2016, and what better way to expand selection than by introducing a whole section filled with racing president souvenirs. Racing president blankets, racing president patches, racing president hats and t-shirts, racing president magnets, racing president banners, and stuffed presidents are but a few of the souvenir items featuring George, Tom, Abe, Teddy, and Bill.

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The new racing president throw blanket

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The new racing president throw blanket

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New racing president patches

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Racing president hats

Abe Lincoln baseball cap

Racing president hats

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Racing president pennant

Teddy Roosevelt Magnet

New racing president magnets

Nationals presidents race to opening day, Abe gets endorsement from Chris Christie

Governor Chris Christie endorses Abe Lincoln Washington Nationals Racing PresidentsIf you haven’t been following the Washington Nationals racing presidents on social media, this week wouldn’t be a bad time to start. Teddy Roosevelt and his big-headed compatriots  are making daily appearances around the DC area as part of a countdown to opening day campaign, and giving prizes to folks who show up and share on social media. More importantly, following their “workouts” has been pretty entertaining (in between they’ve even been sharing some classic GIFs from this website).

The presidents have conducted workouts at the Lincoln Memorial, National Harbor, and Farragut Square, and made appearances at a DC United match, a Navy baseball game (where Abe picked up an endorsement from NJ governor Chris Christie), the White House Easter Egg Roll, and the Maryland Police Academy. On Thursday, they’ll be at TC Williams High School, and Sunday at a University of Maryland baseball game. In between, they’ll be holding exhibition races at Nationals Park on Friday and Saturday.

Some highlights:

 

Photo:Joshua McKerrow/The Baltimore Sun

Fans choice bobblehead voting now open – Here are the choices

The Washington Nationals have revealed the choices and opened the voting for the “fans choice” bobblehead giveaway scheduled for Friday night, September 9.

Fans can choose from among 30 players, including many who will not likely make the 25-man roster, but NOT third baseman Anthony Rendon (who has previously had a gnome but not a bobblehead).

Choices are Aaron Barrett, Wilmer Difo, Matt Grace, Nick Lee, Daniel Murphy, Ben Revere, Joe Ross, Blake Treinen, Chris Bostick, Stephen Drew, Taylor Jordan, Jose Lobaton, Jonathan Papelbon, Felipe Rivero, Pedro Severino, Trea Turner, AJ Cole, Brian Goodwin, Shawn Kelley, Rafael Martin, Oliver Perez, Tanner Roark, Sammy Solis, Matt den Dekker, Abel De Los Santos, Trevor Gott, Spencer Keiboom, Tyler Moore, Yusmeiro Petit, Clint Robinson, and Michael A. Taylor.

The wide variety of choices is great, but the huge number of options mean a likely free-for-all in which 10% of the votes may be more than enough to win. With only 24 hours to vote, there may not be much time for lobbying by the players. Here’s hoping most votes are limited to likely big leaguers such as Murphy, Revere, Ross, Lobaton, Rivero, Papelbon, Turner, den Dekker, Robinson, and Moore.

This is the second time the Nationals have run a fans choice bobblehead promotion. The first time was 2014, when fans selected relief pitcher Tyler Clippard over manager Matt Williams and other teammates.

Voting is open now at Nationals.com and ends Friday morning at 10:00am ET.

How new on-field netting will affect fans at Nationals Park

The Washington Nationals announced Thursday that the on-field netting behind home plate will be expanded to surround most of the infield to the outer edges of both dugouts in 2016. The move is in response to new Major League Baseball guidelines regarding field netting, issued in December.

New Nationals Park Net Expanded Infield

The new netting at Nationals Park will extend to the end of each dugout.

Washington Nationals Rubber Chicken Man Hugh Kaufman

Fan-player interaction like this will now have to be conducted through a net

Rubber Chicken Man Hugh Kaufman delivers chicken soup to a recovering Ian Desmond

“Rubber Chicken Man” Hugh Kaufman delivers chicken soup to a recovering Ian Desmond

Foul Ball Nationals Park - by Scott Ableman

Expect fewer balls to be tossed into the stands at Nationals Park

Nat Pack Washington Nationals Park

No word yet on whether the netting will affect the Nat Pack’s ability to interact with fans from atop the dugout

The move means a significant increase in the number of fans at Nationals Park who will must view most of the action through a net. Most obviously affected are fans in sections 127 through 129 along the first baseline, and sections 116 through 118 along the 3rd baseline. However, fans in adjacent sections will also be affected, depending on how far back they sit. It remains to be seen whether the new netting will be high enough to affect fans in the Club level as well.

The impact on the Dugout Box and Infield Box sections will be many:

Fewer autographs. Players have historically stopped to sign autographs well before the game starts. This will presumably be limited now to the outfield foul territory.

Less fan interaction. Nationals players have a history of interacting with fans behind the dugout, most notably “Rubber Chicken Man” Hugh Kaufman, who tosses bubble gum to players and has even been known to bring them chicken soup.

Fewer balls for kids. Players, coaches, and ball boys have always loved tossing balls to kids sitting behind the dugout during each game. The netting will virtually eliminate this.

Better photo equipment required. For fans behind the dugout who like to take photos of the action, an advanced camera lens with manual focus and a very large aperture will be needed to “blur out” the netting.

Millions of blurry photos and videos. Say goodbye to crisp close-up smartphone photos and videos of game-winning at bats. Any camera that relies on auto-focus will inevitably focus on the net, and not the action beyond it.

Fewer goodies? Fans in these sections surely have more than their share of t-shirts by now, but it remains to be seen whether the new netting will interfere with the Nat Pack’s ability to use the top of the dugout for 7th inning stretch, t-shirt tosses, etc.

We’ll look to answer these questions, including how many fans are affected, during the exhibition games before the start of the season.

Photos: The Washington Post, Cheryl Nichols

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