WASHINGTON —On Sunday morning, the Washington Nationals held tryouts for the next George, Tom, Abe, Teddy and Bill — you know, the presidential celebrities with the really big heads.
Sunday marked the 11th year for the tryouts for the Racing Presidents. These are the caricatures of former U.S. presidents that emerge during the fourth inning of Nats home games. Running around in these 40-pound, 12-foot tall costumes isn’t easy — but you wouldn’t be able to tell.
They make it look really easy.
On Sunday, about 34 people came to the tryouts, which were held at the Nationals Youth Baseball Academy in Southeast. Contestants, in costume, had to do a 40-yard dash, run two races from centerfield to first base, and do a freestyle dance and striking a “victory pose.” The contestants also had to answer questions presented by a panel made up of Nationals entertainment staff members.
But since the identity of the “Racing Presidents” is never made public, the contestants could only give their first names and where they are from.
Ken from Northwest did not let his family or friends know he was competing. Laughing, he said that if he did not make it, he would not have to admit that to them.
Ken said he was a huge baseball fan and a big history buff. So becoming a Racing President would bring those two passions together. He said he would love to wear the Abe Lincoln costume, since Abe is one of his favorite presidents.
But if does not make it this year, he said he would be back next year to tryout — if he gets invited. “Abe wouldn’t have given up on it, so I won’t either.”
During the 40-yard dash several contestants ended up doing a face plant because the costumes are extremely top heavy. At one point it there was a presidential pileup, with three presidents going down.
Only George, Tom and Abe were there on Sunday. Tom Davis, who’s with the Nationals, said both Teddy and Bill had the day off.
But as presidents were toppling over the people on the sideline waiting for their turn reconsidered their strategies. Paul, who lives near the Nats stadium, said he was a little nervous after seeing the falls. “I’m going to run as fast as I can and make sure I don’t fall,” he said.
Mark from Woodbridge said he was thinking more about balance than speed. “I don’t want to fall down,” he said laughing. Mark also told his whole family that he was going to be there on Sunday. “When the Nats contact you, you want to let people know,” he said.
Kris from Manassas said he was extremely excited to be there Sunday. He only told his wife he was trying out. “Hopefully if I make it, you know, of course that’ll be great,” he said. “It’s something I really want to do so hopefully I’ll make it.”
But he still would not be able to tell anyone, since the identities of the “Racing Presidents” are kept secret.
And if he does not make it?
“Absolutely, I’m going to keep going and keep trying until I get it,” he said. “But I’m absolutely going to be back. If I don’t make it this year, hopefully I’ll be invited back again next year and keep trying.”
Women had tried out for the racing presidents in prior years, but none turned out this year. It’s unknown if any women have ever made the cut, since the identities of the “Racing Presidents” are kept secret. Davis said declined to give out that information.
Davis said that when the “Racing Presidents” started in 2006 no one fathomed that they would become as popular as they have.
“It’s really been special what they’ve turned into,” Davis said.
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