A Historic Presidents Race

Major league baseball is a sport steeped in history, tradition, and statistics. With the start of the 2018 baseball season officially underway we thought it would be fun to examine one of the traditions of our local MLB team, the Washington Nationals — the Presidents race.

Most major league teams try to keep their crowds occupied between innings with things like the “kiss cam,” 7th inning stretch dances, and other fun activities. In 2006, the Nationals decided that their main activity between innings would be a “Presidents race.” During the middle of the fourth inning, costume characters of our former presidents return to race across a portion of the ball park.  The main four presidents to participate appear on Mt. Rushmore; George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt.  Other presidents have appeared over the years such as Calvin Coolidge, William Taft, and Herbert Hoover.

In honor of the Nationals home opening game — and in honor of baseball’s love for historic stats — we thought it would be fun to examine some of the Presidents race statistics and facts from previous opening days at Nationals Park.

DateOpponentScoreDecisionWinning President
4/2/2007vs Florida Marlins2-9LGeorge
3/30/2008vs Atlanta Braves3-2WGeorge
4/13/2009vs Philadelphia Phillies8-9LAbe
4/5/2010vs Philadelphia Phillies1-11LAbe
3/31/2011vs Atlanta Braves0-2LGeorge & Tom (tie)
4/12/2012vs Cincinnati Reds3-2WTom
4/1/2013vs Miami Marlins2-0WGeorge
4/4/2014vs Atlanta Braves1-2LTeddy
4/6/2015vs New York Mets1-3LBill (William Howard Taft)
4/7/2016vs Miami Marlins4-6LTeddy
4/3/2017vs Miami Marlins4-2WAbe

Based on history, Nationals fans should root for George to win the President’s race on opening day.
[Editor’s note: we didn’t know the outcome at press time, but Teddy won this year’s opening day Presidents race, and the Nationals lost to the New York Mets 8-2. The streak continues.]

Despite not winning his first race until 2012 (not on opening day), Teddy is always scheming to beat his fellow competitors.  Over the years he has tied shoelaces together; ridden on various motor vehicles resulting in his disqualification; set up cones to misdirect the other presidents; and recruited reoccurring animal characters to attack his rivals.  Since Teddy’s first race win in 2012, the Nationals have been unable to win a postseason series, causing superstition among some fans that Teddy’s win is a cause of the Nationals post-season woes.

Video captured The Easter Bunny tackling Teddy to rob him of a win in 2017. Oddly enough this was the second time — the Easter Bunny did the same thing in 2015.

This year’s All-Star game will be held at Nationals Park for the first time and as Nats fans, we are looking forward to seeing what they will come up with for the Presidents race.

Fun Nats Stats
  • Every time Abe wins on opening day he has the most wins of that season.
  • Every time Teddy wins on opening day he has the most wins of the season.
  • 2011 is the first and only time there was a Presidents race tie on opening day, George and Tom won because they were teammates for a relay race.
  • Both times that Teddy has won on opening day the Nationals have lost.
  • In 2013 Teddy’s great-great-grandson, Winthrop Roosevelt, threw out the first pitch and held the finish line banner for the Presidents race. He was hoping that Teddy would win, but his great-great-grandfather was tackled by Taft, who made his Presidents race debate that same day.

Thanks to our sources:

Let Teddy Win: https://blog.letteddywin.com/

Baseball Almanac: http://www.baseball-almanac.com/opening_day/odschedule.php?t=WS0

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