Mascot Mania: Running for Presidents

Written By Sarah Gibson, Mascot Columnist

For today’s Mascot Mania, I’m bringing back something that I only used to do on UView: Mascot Spotlight. The mascots I want to show you today do not have a bizarre evolution, like that of the Braves, and I’m not comparing them to anything, like in my Pittsburgh piece. No, in honor of the election season, this week we are spotlighting some mascots that I found rather fitting. 

If you’re from the Pittsburgh area, you may have heard of the running pierogis, who race around the bases at the end of the 5th inning during Pittsburgh Pirates games, but did you know that there are other foot race-based mascots in baseball? These are actually kind of common, but the three most well known in the MLB are the Boston Brewers’ sausage races, the Pierogi races in Pittsburgh, and the subject of today’s column: the Racing Presidents of the Washington Nationals. 

For most of the time that this tradition has been around with the Nationals, the race has consisted of four different president mascots, all wearing numbers that signify what number president they are. In total, seven different presidents have been used total: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover. Taft, Coolidge and Hoover have retired since their race-running days, and have officially moved to Florida, near the training field for the Nationals. 

I think my favorite tale from the Racing Presidents is the story of how Teddy Roosevelt had a losing streak that lasted for seven seasons. He was even given advantages and head starts on occasion, but he still lost. I did the math, and there were a little more than 450 races in those seven seasons. Granted, I don’t feel bad for the guy. Teddy lost due to tripping, getting distracted, and at one point he was disqualified for using a golf cart to cheat. 

Teddy even has history with Pittsburgh’s own Pierogis. In one 2009 race during Teddy’s losing streak, the Presidents raced the Pierogis, and Teddy was knocked out by Potato Pete, who threw him to the ground in a flying tackle. In another head-to-head race against the Pierogis in 2013, Teddy was beaten up by all four pierogis.

Teddy managed to win his first race on the last day of the regular season in 2012 with a little help from the Philly Phanatic, but his record is still pretty shoddy to this day. 

Normally I like to end Mascot highlights with any recent updates on my subjects, but with it being 2020, and the Presidents not being the main mascot of the Washington Nationals, I don’t really have any updates on what they’re currently doing. Instead, I want to leave you on a serious note: Election seasons are hard. I don’t have a cheeky one-liner to leave you on. Stay safe, and be good to one another.