In the quest to get photos of the Washington Nationals’ “Racing Presidents,” some DC friends and I had tickets for a game in late September 2013, the second to last game of the season. That’s important to note because, at that time, the Nationals were in playoff contention, and this penultimate match could be important in post-season positioning. The Nationals really wanted to play this game. Mother Nature had other plans.
My plan was to get some decent photos of the presidential footrace. My friend Tracy strategically ordered seats high on the first base line, which would offer us a good view as George, Tom, Abe and Teddy (only four presidents raced at that time) exited the outfield door on their clockwise run around the field’s outskirts toward our position.
The president mascots normally start their day perusing the plaza, taking photos with fans before the game. Unfortunately, just we arrived, they were heading in. As we headed to our seats we ran into this guy – a statue of the Jefferson mascot, located somewhat off the main thoroughfare between a food service door and a map of the stadium – so unpresidential.
Most people just passed him by; of course, we stopped to take pictures. To give you some perspective, this guy was pretty big – taller than I am (5’6″) and slightly weird looking in an exaggerated caricature style.
Having fueled up on food and beverages, we had just arrived at our seats when the sky opened up in a steady, heavy rain. You may not be able to tell by the photo, but it was pouring.
So what is one to do in an extended rain delay? My friend Tracy recalled she had once seen a Washington statue on another level, so we set off to find George. After winding down a few ramps, we discovered him tucked between a defunct ticket kiosk and the door to an electrical room. I think he looks a little like Cold Miser from “The Year Without a Santa Claus.”
Now, if we had found two president mascot statues, it stood to reason that there had to be two more. We knew the rain delay would be a long haul, so a mascot mission seemed like a great way to pass the time.
The ballpark was swarming with people, sprawled everywhere passing the time during the unending rain delay. Where were Abe and Teddy? How would we find them? They might be hard to spot since, as we’d seen, Tom and George were somewhat off the beaten path, and those paths were packed with people.
After securing a photo of George, we went downstairs to the main concourse. My friends seemed dubious that a random stadium employee would know the locations of the other statues, but I was undeterred. As we neared Guest Relations (which had a massive line), we found a stadium employee who did not seem the least bit fazed at my question about how to complete our quest. He pointed us down the concourse around the bend to find Teddy tucked in a corner near a souvenir shop.
After pics with Teddy, we perused the Nationals store. I am still not sure how I feel about our presidents becoming plush toys, but you know I am all about getting pictures of them. I wonder if there are there kids who cuddle up each night with these presidents instead stuffed animals? How will their perceptions change when they learn about the real people? But as I have said before, if it gets more people interested in learning history, I guess am okay with this.
We then had to find the elusive Abe. The helpful stadium employee told us that Abe was about mid-level near the ramps closer to the stadium entrance. We took escalators. We took ramps. We just didn’t see him.
Finally we spotted him, looking fairly “scowly” and stern. After a somewhat long wait for people to clear out so we could get photos, our mission was complete, and it was still raining – hard. The playoffs were in play, and they just would not cancel this game!
However, we finally called our game after more than two hours in stadium. We were enjoying a nice Mexican dinner in Arlington when we finally heard that the game had been cancelled. We got make-up tickets the following season with similar seats that provided an excellent view of the racing presidents.
Since our presidential scavenger hunt in Nats stadium, the team has added two more mascots – Taft and, most recently a brief appearance by Coolidge.
DC friends report they haven’t seen the mascot statues at the ballpark recently. Have they been retired?
I tried to ask the Nats over Twitter, but didn’t hear back. I am now Tweeting the Teddy mascot himself (I told him I thought his statute was the cutest). I will let you know if I find out anything.
Or maybe they’ve moved the statues? Is another scavenger hunt afoot? Happy hunting!
I want a presidential plushie! I guess I need to get myself to National Park. I’ve been telling myself to get to a game but I haven’t made it yet. Maybe before the end of this season.
Some of the plushies are cute, but some of them look weird and pouty. I have resisted them at the ballpark, but I was tempted by a Teddy Roosevelt puppet. Again, I have mixed feelings on the racing presidents concept, but I try to focus on the positive.