Celebrating (Racing) Presidents Day

021609 Nationals Mascot Tryouts

The third Monday of February -- Presidents Day -- means a lot of things to a lot of people. It is a celebration of George Washington, the first President of the United States; it is also a day off from work.

For baseball fans, it signifies the start of the season, as pitchers and catchers reported to spring training this weekend, specifically Sunday for the Washington Nationals in Viera, Fla.

Meanwhile, back in Washington Saturday, four other integral members of the Nationals franchise also went back to work: the Racing Presidents. George, Abe, Tom and Teddy were back at their posts in the outfield of Nationals Park as hopeful candidates vied for the opportunity to live vicariously through some of our nation's most important presidents while running 200 yards in 40 seconds or less in a 45-pound costume (those are some of the requirements, the other pertinent one being available for at least 35 home games).

With all of that said, what better way to celebrate the beginning of baseball season and Presidents Day by studying the storied history of the Racing Presidents and reminiscing about their greatest races?

May 24, 2009: There is usually no love lost between the Nationals and Baltimore Orioles in the  annual "Battle of the Beltways," and that tension spilled into the Presidents Race. One day after the Oriole Bird prevented Teddy from earning that elusive first win, Teddy exacted revenge when he decided to squash the Oriole Bird on the outfield wall. While Teddy did not win after having a sizable lead, something tells me he felt like a winner that day.

August 19, 2009: We all know how distracting Twitter can be, and apparently so does a president that took office in 1901. Teddy spent the moments leading up to the race and the race itself tweeting about his inevitable victory. He almost had it, too, but he stopped just short of the finish line to update his page one more time, costing him a victory. Tweeting and running do not mix.

June 8, 2010: The Presidents had several other competitors that day, including the Pittsburgh Pirates' Pierogies and the "Un-Racing Sausages," a knock(wurst) at the Milwaukee Brewers' racing equivalents. All of them participated in a race on June 8, 2010, in what turned into an all-out brawl. The Segway-clad Secret Service interfered early on and one of the Pierogies speared one of the Sausages near the end of the race, leaving an open path for Tom to win.

September 24, 2011: With time running out for Teddy to finally win a race, Jayson Werth enlisted the Nationals bullpen to assist Teddy by any means necessary. Those "means" really were just pushing the other Presidents against the outfield wall, but Teddy got caught in the pile and fell face-first into the dirt. In what was a historic moment anyway, Werth crossed the finish line, becoming the first Nationals player to win the race.

Another season is about to begin at Nationals Park, and that includes 81 Presidents Races. As is customary every season, whether it be by hook or by crook, by bike or by cat, let Teddy win.

Adam Vingan is the co-founder of Kings Of Leonsis, a Caps-centric blog, and is the Capitals Editor for SB Nation. Follow him on Twitter @Adam_KOL and e-mail your story ideas to adamvingan (at) gmail.com.

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