The Nationals began playing in Washington D.C. in 2005. It wasn’t until 2012 that the team posted a winning record.
But even while the team was struggling, there was a bright spot during every home game: the fourth inning Presidents Race.
“The presidents are these big-headed mascots — the four presidents from Mount Rushmore,” explains Ryan Swanson, an associate professor of history at the University of New Mexico.
“Theodore Roosevelt — the big headed Theodore Roosevelt mascot — just lost every time,” Swanson says. “Once Roosevelt losing kind of became the story, it did become a rule for a long time that they don’t let Teddy win.”
“Can you describe some of the things the Nationals have done to keep Teddy from winning? Because they’ve gone to some pretty extreme lengths, right?” I ask.
“Oh, yeah. I mean, all kinds of crazy things,” Swanson says. “Early in the season one year, the Easter Bunny jumped out of the stands and tackled Roosevelt. They’ve had Roosevelt sabotage himself in all number of ways: tripping, running the wrong direction, getting cut off. You know, Washington and Lincoln and Jefferson have all taken their turns kind of knocking ‘TR’ over. And so in…