The Nationals’ presidents race has been a fixture at Washington Nationals home baseball games since 2006, and quickly became a fan favorite.
The Racing Presidents
Participants in the presidents race include the four presidents whose images appear on Mount Rushmore, plus three new members that were introduced in later years and raced in DC before being “retired” to the Nationals’ spring training home at The Ball Park of the Palm Beachs in West Palm Beach, Florida.
- #1 George Washington, our 1st president
- #3 Thomas Jefferson, our 3rd president
- #16 Abraham Lincoln, our 16th president
- #26 Teddy Roosevelt, our 26th president
- #27 William Howard Taft, our 27th president (2013 – 2016, retired)
- #30 Calvin Coolidge, our 30th president (2015 “visiting president,” retired)
- #31 Herbert Hoover, our 31st president (2016 “visiting president,” retired)
Rules of the Race
There are few rules to the presidents race. In the middle of the 4th inning of every Nationals Park home game, the racing presidents are introduced individually as they enter the park through the center field fence. They run along the warning track, turning for the final sprint along the first base foul line toward a makeshift finish line near the Washington Nationals’ home dugout. Starting in 2012, the team started mixing things up by shifting occasional races to the 3rd base side.
Skip below for more fun facts about the presidents race.
Presidents Race History and Records
Most notable among presidents race records is Teddy Roosevelt’s winless streak, which lasted from the race’s inception on July 21, 2006 through the final race of the regular season on October 3, 2012. Roosevelt lost 525 races before notching his first victory.
2006 Presidents Race – Champion: Thomas Jefferson
In 2006, the presidents raced officially began during a July home stand, just after the Lerner family purchased the team from Major League Baseball. In this shortened first season, the presidents race remained a hotly contested contest between Thomas Jefferson and Abe Lincoln until the very end, with Tom pulling away on the very last game of the season. Teddy Roosevelt did not draw a lot of attention to himself. He simply failed to win a single race.
Final 2006 Standings
2007 Presidents Race Champion: George Washington
The first full season for the racing presidents was 2007, and it was a bit of a coming out party for Teddy Roosevelt, who stepped up the antics on opening day with a zip line stunt from the roof of RFK Stadium, and began losing in more spectacular ways. The Let Teddy Win movement began to draw attention, but unfortunately for Teddy, the winner’s circle continued to be elusive, and as the summer wore on, it became clear that this was to be George Washington’s year. Our first president surged ahead, and had the season title easily wrapped up by mid-September.
Final 2007 Standings
2008 Presidents Race Champion: Abe Lincoln
Many anticipated that Teddy Roosevelt would christen the new Nationals Park with an opening day presidents race victory. Unfortunately, Teddy was caught cheating in the first of many mishaps in 2008 which included among other things encounters with panthers, bananas, and Martha Washington. The big surprise was Abe Lincoln’s emergence as a dominant sprinter, leading many observers to speculate whether Abe was juicing. “Honest” Abe had no competition for the 2008 title. Only a final day rain-out curtailed his bid for a 50-win season.
Final 2008 Standings
Game-by-game results and highlights from 2008 can be found at the Presidents Race 2008 Results & Highlights page.
2009 Presidents Race Champion: Abe Lincoln
Abe Lincoln continued his presidents race dominance in 2009, pulling away from the pack late in the season, and frequently taunting his opponents. Teddy passed the 250 loss milestone in July, and was distracted at various times by clowns, weather, and Twitter. That Cat returned to make several appearances, most notably when getting Teddy disqualified for “unauthorized use of a feline.” Teddy mysteriously missed 5 races due to injury late in the season, but his most notorious moment came on the road in Pittsburgh, when he was leveled by a racing pierogie on national television.
Final 2009 Standings
Game-by-game results and highlights from 2009 can be found at the Presidents Race 2009 Results & Highlights page.
2010 Presidents Race Champion: Abe Lincoln
The 2010 season kicked off with an injury in Teddy’s first race, and things went downhill from there, as Abe Lincoln held off furious runs from both Tom and George to lock up another title.
Along the way, things got dirty, with a number of on-field skirmishes, sometimes involving That Cat, the sponsor GEICO Gecko, mascot Screech’s mom, or visiting celebrities such as Brian from Family Guy, The Grinch, and Mr Kool Aid, but almost all involving Lincoln.
In July, Teddy let out his frustrations on Abe with a memorable right hook.
Final 2010 Standings
Game-by-game results and highlights from 2010 can be found at the Presidents Race 2010 Results and Highlights page.
2011 Presidents Race – Champion (tie): Abe Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson
The 2011 season included the debut of new patriotic jerseys, appearances by John F. Kennedy, pro wrestler John Cena, and That Cat, plus lobsters, monkeys, leprechauns, and more. But the season will most be remembered for the campaign of new Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth, who declared his support for the Let Teddy Win movement early in the season, and later took things into his own hands, trying twice to stage a presidents race coup and even winning a race himself before finally giving in to a higher power.
Final 2011 Standings
Game-by-game results and highlights from the 2011 season can be found at the 2011 Results & Highlights page.
2012 Presidents Race – Champion: George Washington
2012 was a breakthrough season for both the Nationals and for perpetual loser Teddy Roosevelt. As the team soared to the best record in Major League Baseball, pressure grew from all corners to Let Teddy Win. Competing players weighed in, law professors proposed legal remedies, the Orioles’ Adam Jones joined the movement, and calls for a Teddy victory came from The Washington Post to the Wall Street Journal to a Ken Burns-narrated video on ESPN.
After The White House issued a statement, the Nats turned the final homestand into a tribute to Teddy, and finally let him taste his first victory on the final game of the regular season. Teddy went on to win all three post-season races.
Along the way, Teddy attacked Pierogies and Birds, and ran into distractions including Batman, lobsters, apple pie, Popsicles and Twitter. The presidents treated fans to an entertaining week of Olympic tributes, and became a YouTube sensation by dancing Gangnam Style. The team briefly experimented with changing the direction of the race based on team wins, but scrapped the idea soon after.
Final 2012 Standings
Game-by-game results and highlights from the 2012 season can be found at the 2012 Results & Highlights page.
2013 Presidents Race – Introducing William Howard Taft
In 2013, the Nationals introduced a fifth racing president, William Howard Taft. Neither Taft nor Roosevelt tasted victory early on, and they battled for last place in the standings. Meanwhile, the presidents were visited by Teddy’s great great grandson Winthrop, HBO’s VEEP Selina Myer, The Orioles Bird, The Racing Pierogies, That Cat, a giant cicada, Mr. Kool Aid, the Sharknado, Martha Washington, Sharky, the grounds crew, Teddy’s pet moose Bullee, a rally pigeon, and a dozen other mascots from the DC area..
Videos and race-by-race results can be found on the 2013 results and highlights page.
Final 2013 Standings
|William Howard Taft||11|
2014 Presidents Race – Teddy finally breaks through
The 2014 season got off to an exciting start as Teddy Roosevelt won on opening day. It was the first time Teddy ever held the lead in the presidents race standings, and the Bull Moose really went on a tear after the all star break, maintaining a lead in the standings entering the season’s final month, then holding off a late charge by Abraham Lincoln to take his first presidents race season title. Meanwhile, the Nationals finished with the best record in the National League, and had a regular season record of 18-8 when Teddy Roosevelt won. Teddy won all three postseason races before the Nationals were eliminated from the playoffs.
Videos and race-by-race results for 2014 can still be found on the 2014 results and highlights page.
Final 2014 Standings
|#26 Teddy Roosevelt||29|
|#16 Abraham Lincoln||25|
|#27 William Howard Taft||12|
|#3 Thomas Jefferson||11|
|#1 George Washington||10|
*Includes 3 postseason races
2015 Presidents Race – Introducing Calvin Coolidge
Coming fresh off of Theodore Roosevelt’s first winning season in 2014, it appeared early the next season as if Thomas Jefferson might replace Teddy as the team’s lovable loser. Jefferson seemed to invent new ways to lose every night as he went winless for almost three months, but then TJ got into the win column when the team celebrated his alma mater. More significantly, a week later the Nationals introduced a sixth racing president on Independence Day weekend. Calvin Coolidge was sponsored by the White House Historical Association and ran in 45 races, winning a respectable 12 of them, before going into retirement at the end of the season.
Videos and race-by-race results for 2015 can be found on the 2015 results and highlights page.
Final 2015 Standings
|#16 Abraham Lincoln||21|
|#1 George Washington||17|
|#26 Teddy Roosevelt||15|
|#27 William Howard Taft||14|
|#30 Calvin Coolidge||12|
2016 Presidents Race – Introducing Herbert Hoover
For 2016, visiting racing president Herbert Hoover joined the racing presidents as part of a promotion with the White House Historical Society, and won ten races during the season, but Teddy Roosevelt passed the newcomer in the standings early and never looked back, taking the regular season presidents race crown as the Nationals won the Nationals League East and went to the playoffs for the third time in five years. Along the way, race judge Screech the Eagle crossed the finish line for the first time, and when the Nats made the playoffs, the team attempted to end the curse talk, with mixed success.
Videos and race-by-race results for 2016 can be found on the 2016 results & highlights page.
Final 2016 Standings
|#26 Teddy Roosevelt||23|
|#16 Abraham Lincoln||18|
|#3 Thomas Jefferson||17|
|#1 George Washington||16|
|#31 Herbert Hoover||10|
|#27 William Howard Taft||9|
|#00 Screech the Eagle||1|
2017 Presidents Race – Back to the Basics
For the 2017 season, the Nationals brought the presidents race back to its roots when they announced that the fourth inning race at Nationals Park would go back to the original “Rushmore Four”: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt.
The presidents who had been introduced between 2013 and 2016 — William Howard Taft, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover — all “retired” to Florida, not coincidentally just in time for the opening of the team’s new spring training facility at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach.
Taft, Coolidge, and Hoover ran their own 3-man version of the presidents race throughout spring training, while back up north, the original racing presidents renewed their tradition of not letting Teddy Roosevelt win.
Final 2017 Standings*
|#3 Thomas Jefferson||29|
|#1 George Washington||29|
|#16 Abraham Lincoln||25|
|#00 Screech the Eagle||1|
|#26 Teddy Roosevelt||0|
*Includes 3 postseason races, all won by George Washington.
Videos and race-by-race results for 2017 can be found on the 2017 results & highlights page.
2018 Season – Lots of rain, but a major draught for Teddy
After winning the first two races of the 2018 season, Teddy failed to win a race for the next four months (including the All Star Game at Nationals Park). Presidential hijinks included races disrupted by double dutch, pet lions, superhero capes, hair styling, “groovy bus” rides, hypnosis, miniature presidents, picnics, selfies, red cards, pet cats, boxer shorts, sword fights, beer interference, garage sales, the YMCA and the electric slide, and a record number of rain delays during the summer of 2018 led the racing presidents to hold an umbrella relay.
Final 2018 Standings*
|#1 George Washington||31|
|#3 Thomas Jefferson||25|
|#16 Abraham Lincoln||17|
|#26 Theodore Roosevelt||10|
* Standings do not include exhibition wins by George and Tom in the All Star Game and the All Star Celebrity Softball Game at Nationals Park in July.
2019 Season – Teddy’s championship journey mirrors that of the Nationals
Teddy Roosevelt’s 2019 season mirrored that of the Nationals. The Bull Moose lost the first 8 races of the season, and didn’t start his big run until May 24, when the Nationals had one of the worst records in the league at 19-31. By the end of the regular season, the Nationals were in the playoffs, Teddy Roosevelt had run away with the presidents race season title, and remarkably, for the first time, every racing president’s wins correlated to a winning team record for the Nationals. Teddy’s victories correlated with an 8-game playoff winning streak, though the World Series was a different story, with the Nats losing all three of their home contests. Still, the team came through in Houston, and both the Nationals and Teddy finished the season as champions.
Final 2019 Standings*
|#26 Theodore Roosevelt||38|
|#16 Abraham Lincoln||20|
|#3 Thomas Jefferson||20|
|#1 George Washington||18|
|#00 Screech the Eagle||1|
|#3 Buster Olney||1|
2020 Season – Empty Stadium & Presidents on the Street
With the country ravaged by the global COVID-19 pandemic, Major League Baseball operated a modified 60-game season with no fans in the stands, but the Nationals recorded a presidents race, with the presidents wearing masks on streets outside the stadium, and played the video for the handful of players, staff, and media in the stadium during the 4th inning of most home games (and one “road” game played at Nationals Park). There were six games in which the team either didn’t run the race, or did not share it on the broadcast or social media.
Final 2020 Standings*
|#26 Theodore Roosevelt||8|
|#16 Abraham Lincoln||8|
|#3 Thomas Jefferson||6|
|#1 George Washington||6|
2021 Season – A Shortened Season and a Shortened Race
When the 2021 season began, the global pandemic was still raging. The Major League Baseball season began on time with strict health protocols. Nationals Park stadium capacity was limited to ten percent, and the racing presidents were not permitted on the field. The team held races outside the stadium, with new rules that included grouping races into “heats.” It was hard for fans to follow, and prompted our official retirement of the presidents race standings.
When the stadium reopened to full capacity in June, the racing presidents returned as well, with a new, subtly shorter course. The finish line had been moved from the bottom of section 132 to the gate at the bottom of section 135, presumably to get the presidents off the field more quickly between innings. Teddy Roosevelt lost every race for the first two months back, prompting concerns from longtime followers, but with the team struggling horribly, eventually the Nats relented and let Teddy win.
Final 2021 Standings*
|#3 Thomas Jefferson||19|
|#1 George Washington||16|
| Abraham Lincolnon||13|
|#16 Theodore Roosevelt||8|
More Fun Facts
The presidents race started on video. The predecessor to the presidents race was the PNC Dollar Derby, introduced in the 2005 season as an animated race on the RFK Stadium video scoreboard, featuring famous figures on American currency. Rooting interests were tied to sections of the stadium. George Washington ($1 bill, orange seats), Abraham Lincoln ($5 bill, red seats), and Alexander Hamilton ($10 bill, yellow seats) raced in go-karts around Washington, DC, with one of them always crashing before the end of the race. In 2006, the Dollar Derby was replaced by the presidents race, featuring the four Mt. Rushmore presidents (Washington, Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt), but it remained a scoreboard-only feature until mid-season.
The first live presidents race was held on July 21, 2006, when the Washington Nationals hosted a “Grand Reopening” of RFK Stadium after the Lerner family had been named as the team’s new owners by major league baseball. In a demonstration of commitment to the Washington Nationals fans, the team kicked off a “Paint the Town Red” weekend, during which fans received giveaways and new investments in the fan experience were unveiled. These included a new food court at RFK stadium as well the live-action costumed racing presidents, a brainchild of then entertainment manager Josh Golden. The Nationals defeated the Chicago Cubs 7-6.
The presidents race field was expanded three times, then contracted in 2017. In 2013, William Howard Taft was added to the original “Rushmore Four.” A sixth “visiting president” was later added as part of a joint promotion with the White House Historical Association, which honors (and promotes) a different president each year. In mid-season 2015, the first visiting president Calvin “Cal” Coolidge joined the field. In 2016, he was replaced with Herbert “Herbie” Hoover. The sponsorship was to continue through 2017 when the WHHA honored Franklin Roosevelt, but the Roosevelt family was not supportive of a racing FDR.
Racing presidents “retire” to West Palm Beach. In 2017, the Nationals opened the new Ballpark of the Palm Beaches spring training facility in West Palm Beach, Florida, and the team announced that Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover would “retire” to the new park, where they would hold a presidents race during spring training games. On the day before the park opened, they “retired” William Howard Taft as well, bringing more competition to Florida, and restoring the Nationals Park cadre to the original Rushmore four.
A “presidents belt” was awarded from 2014 – 2016. To kick off the 2014 season, the Nationals introduced the presidents race belt, a wrestling-style trophy handed to the winner after every race. Teddy Roosevelt won the first-ever presidents race belt on April 4, 2014, and it was handed to the winner after every race for three years. The belt was retired after the 2016 season and now the winner is handed the checkered flag to carry off the field.
The presidents race winner is not always predetermined. While some theatrics are occasionally planned in advance, the race more often than not has been real. More than a dozen years after creating the racing presidents, the Nats’ former entertainment manager Josh Golden told DCist that the original plan had been to have George Washington win the first race, then leave it to chance, but after four races, when Teddy Roosevelt had yet to win and some fans complained, he decided to “make it a thing”; so from July 26, 2006 to October 3, 2012, there was only one rule handed down by the Nationals: Teddy was not allowed to win.
The racing president costumes were created by Randy Carfagno Productions, a New York City manufacturer of theatrical puppets and costumes. Carfagno’s inspiration for the presidents was a giant puppet he’d created for a 1999 Bette Midler concert.
The costumes are fashioned from foam, fabric, fleece, vacuform, netting, and aluminum. When a costume malfunctions, it must be sent back to New York, as happened during the 2009 season. The Nats racing presidents wear regular sneakers instead of cleats during the race, because they spend so much time cruising the Nationals Park stands before and during games.
A second set of presidents was created in 2010. When the Washington Nationals returned from the All Star break and an extended road trip in July, 2010, the racing presidents received a significant facelift. The team declined to comment on the change, but it appeared to be designed to make the presidents look more friendly to the kids. Before the facelift, only Teddy and Tom sported grins, but after the botox treatment, all the presidents were smiling.
The “classic” presidents returned to the field and ran nearly all the races for the 2011 season, with the friendlier, “new look” presidents saved for occasional public appearances. A year later, the 2012 season opened with the “new look” presidents once again taking center stage, where they stayed only through the first homestand, but eventually came back as what appear to be permanent replacements.
Teddy’s costume is significantly shorter than the other racing presidents. Teddy is 9′ tall. George Washington is 9’5″. Abe Lincoln is 10′ 0″, and Thomas Jefferson is the tallest at 10′ 1″. As the most top-heavy president, Jefferson tends to fall more often than the others. The height of the newest president, William Howard Taft, has not been disclosed.
The racing presidents’ uniforms change daily to match those of the team. The racing presidents wear traditional period costumes on most Sundays, and Washington Nationals uniforms on other days to match those worn by the team on that day. These include home whites, alternate red jerseys, military uniforms, and patriotic jerseys. At least once or twice each summer, usually on a particularly hot day, they forgo uniforms and wear Hawaiian shirts.
Specific presidents are not “operated” by the same person for each game. The many members of the mascot team switch off from day to day. Special guests were occasionally invited to partake in the race during the first season, but this practice was curtailed after the presidents race soared in popularity, presumably to make sure nobody would let Teddy win.
Teddy Roosevelt was disqualified many times. During Teddy’s historic losing streak, Nationals fans were teased on several occasions when Roosevelt used illegal tactics to win the presidents race (descending a zip line, riding a golf cart or rickshaw…); however on each such occasion he was immediately disqualified, and his winless streak continued. In the 2008 inaugural game at Nationals Park, Teddy attempted to take a shortcut across the Nationals Park outfield. Nationals mascot Screech, who judges from the finish line, disqualified Teddy in 2008 for cutting the outfield corner and for using a motor scooter. In 2009, he was inexplicably disqualified for “unauthorized use of a feline”, and in the 2010 pre-season, it was unnecessary roughness.
Interference by other costumed characters cost Teddy Roosevelt a number of races over the years. “Guest” appearances in the presidents race have been made by dogs, bananas, clowns, lobsters, monkeys, leprechauns, sausages, various college mascots, the Easter Bunny, and John F. Kennedy; but Teddy’s most frequent nemesis for several years was a panther who first appeared in April, 2008 and returned two months later wearing a red shirt with Teddy’s name crossed out on the back. “That Cat” returned to interfere many times from 2008 through 2013.
There have been 18 presidents race doubleheaders. On the rare occasion that a baseball game extends to 13 innings or more, the racing presidents return to the ball field in the middle of the 13th inning to run another presidents race.
There were three such extra races at RFK Stadium before the team moved to Nationals Park. The first of those was on June 20, 2008, during a 14-inning game against the Texas Rangers. Others occured on September 19, 2008 vs. the San Diego Padres, on April 24, 2010 during a 13-inning loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers, on August 26, 2010 during a 13-inning victory over the St. Louis Cardinals, and on September 17, 2011 during a 13-inning affair vs. the Florida Marlins.
The 2012 season brought three double-headers: during a 13-inning win over the Cincinnati Reds on April 13, 2012, during a 14-inning loss to the New York Yankees on June 16, 2012, and during a 13-inning victory over the Braves early in the morning of August 21, 2012. Two years later in 2014, there were extra races during a 15-inning loss to the Cincinnati Reds on May 19, a 13-inning loss to the Atlanta Braves on June 20, and in an epic 18-inning playoff loss on October 4.
2016 brought three bonus races: on April 24 (16 innings), July 1 (13 innings), and July 17 (18 innings). A three-year drought followed, and was finally broken on August 17, 2019, when the Nats took a home game into the 14th inning vs. Milwaukee.
Presidents race bobblehead nights were featured during the 2007 season, and were an instant hit with Washington Nationals fans at RFK Stadium. Attendance on the racing presidents bobblehead nights averaged 33,459 — a 42% increase over that season’s average attendance on non-bobblehead nights. The fifth racing president, William Howard Taft, finally got his own bobblehead night on August 17, 2014 and Calvin Coolidge got one on September 22, 2015.
The racing presidents have a 4-2 record on their bobblehead nights. In the 2007 season, George Washington (July 4), Thomas Jefferson (August 4) , and Abe Lincoln (August 18), each won the presidents race on their bobblehead nights, leading many to speculate that Teddy Roosevelt’s first victory would finally arrive on his bobblehead night. On September 1, 2007, Teddy was carried in on a throne as the other presidents were held back by secret service agents, but the throne was dropped and George ran by him to keep Teddy’s winless streak alive. Taft would later win on his bobblehead night in 2014, but Calvin Coolidge dropped the ball on his bobblehead night in 2015.
The racing presidents have a 3-1 record on their “T-Shirt Tuesdays.” In 2008, the Nationals introduced “Free T-Shirt Tuesdays”, and gave away racing president t-shirts on selected nights. Again, George Washington (May 20), Thomas Jefferson (June 3) , and Abe Lincoln (July 8), each won the presidents race on their T-Shirt Tuesdays, but Teddy did not come through. On August 12, 2008, Teddy gave up a late lead as he was distracted by a panther that ran onto the field.
The presidents race has it’s own Independence Day tradition. In 2009, the Nationals began an annual tradition of hosting an 11:00am home game on Independence Day, and the corresponding presidents race became more of a processional, in which the U.S. flag is carried from wire to wire by one president. From 2009 through 2012, that president was the author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, who led wire to wire carrying the flag, then issued his declaration. In 2013, George Washington took over flag-bearing responsibilities, and each year since then the presidents have trotted in the order of their presidencies, behind the father of our country. In 2018 and 2019 they passed the flag and exchanging the lead during the race, with George carrying it over the finish line, but in 2021 they returned to the parade-style trot.
GEICO became the official sponsor of the racing presidents in 2006. In 2006, GEICO became the official sponsor of the racing presidents. To kick off the race, a costumed gecko enters the field along with Washington Nationals mascot Screech, and the two characters wait at the temporary finish line for the costumed presidents. The Gecko has rarely participated in the race itself, but it has twice been run over by the presidents at the finish line.
The presidents race route and distance has been changed five times. In 2006 and 2007 at RFK Stadium, they entered the park with a running start from a tunnel in the right field corner. The straight-line race route followed the first base foul line from right field toward a finish line near home plate. With the move to the new Nationals Park in 2008, the presidents were introduced individually, and the race route was lengthened to stretch from center field to the far edge of the Nationals’ dugout, after which the racing presidents would exit the field into the stands in Section 127. Unfortunately, the new route lasted through just one homestand. After Major League Baseball complained that the race was delaying the game, the route was shortened and the live introductions of each president was scrapped.
For the last game of the 2011 season, after Nationals players tried twice to interfere on Roosevelt’s behalf, the team reversed the course to run along the left field warning track, a route that was repeated for the 2012 season opener. A superstitious plan to switch directions only after the Nationals lost a game was scrapped after two homestands that featured lengthy winning streaks. Ever since, the Nationals have alternated the route to run the “reverse course” a few times each season.
During the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, while games were being played without fans, the racing presidents gethered to conduct races outside the stadium on the streets of Washington, DC. The races were recorded, then played on the scoreboard inside the park during the fourth inning.
Finally, when the stadium reopened to full capacity in June of 2021, the racing presidents returned as well but with a new, subtly shorter course. The finish line had been moved from the bottom of section 132, near first base, to the gate in the foul territory up the right field line at the bottom of section 135, presumably to get the presidents off the field more quickly between innings.
The presidents race to music by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Since 2013, the race has been accompanied by Tom Petty’s song “Runnin’ Down a Dream.” In previous years, the team has played Los Lobos 1987 cover of the 1958 hit “Come On, Let’s Go” by Richie Valens. As the presidents leave the field, they historically were accompanied by the 1982 hit “I Ran” by English new wave band A Flock of Seagulls. In 2011, the Nationals promised new victory songs which would vary depending on who wins, but it never happened.
The presidents race has twice been named “Best On-Field Promotion” in all of professional sports. GameOps.com, a web site focused on sports entertainment and promotions, recognized the Washington Nationals racing presidents with its Golden Steagle Award for best contest or on-field promotion of 2007. The presidents race was nominated again in 2008, then won the award again in 2009, and again in 2012.
George Washington won the final presidents race at RFK Stadium. At the Washington Nationals’ final home game at RFK Stadium on September 23, 2007, many fans expected to see Teddy Roosevelt finally win the presidents race. However, Teddy appeared on the stadium video screen at the new Nationals Park — apparently having arrived for the race at the wrong location. George Washington won easily to complete the 2007 presidents race season and extend Teddy’s losing streak into another year.
George Washington won the first presidents race at Nationals Park. On Saturday, March 22, 2008, the Washington Nationals hosted a limited-attendance baseball game for a few thousand fans at Nationals Park between the George Washington University and Saint Josephs University baseball teams. Since this was a “dry run” designed to test all the concessions and in-game entertainment, fans in attendance were treated to the first “unofficial” presidents race at Nationals Park. To the chants of “Let Teddy Win!”, Teddy came up short as George Washington was first to cross the tape. Eight days later, at the Washington Nationals’ inaugural regular season game at Nationals Park, George also captured the first official presidents race, beating Teddy at the wire.
You can meet and pose for photos with the racing presidents at Nationals Park. The Nationals’ stadium offers fans many opportunities to meet and pose for photos with the racing presidents. In 2010, Teddy started greeting fans before the games outside the Navy Yard Metro stop on Half Street NE. Approximately 30 to 60 minutes before the game, all of the racing presidents can be found greeting visitors and posing for photos inside the ticket gates at Nationals Park’s main centerfield plaza entrance. After the presidents race is completed in the middle of the 4th inning, the racing presidents return to the Nationals Park concourse behind section 131, where they pose as a group with fans through the 5th inning.