As Teddy Roosevelt crossed the finish line at that fateful October Nationals game, it not only ended his 525-game losing streak, but it also marked the start of a new era in foam-headed presidential racing.
Now that the “Let Teddy Win” campaign is complete, Washington's baseball team has decided to add another president to the famed President’s Race. But who will the team announce as the fifth president on Saturday? William Henry Harrison? Taft racing in a bathtub? Millard Fillmore?
Here are some of the recommendations from the writers and editors of the National Journal:
Recommended by Fawn Johnson
Fawn: I was going to vote for Reagan, but I figured Grover Norquist had those votes locked up. I want Bill Clinton because we need a MODERN president to represent the Nats—one who understands our America of Cheetos, Popeyes, g-strings, and trailer parks. Everyone loves Bubba. He's like catnip to women, which would greatly increase the Nats' fan base. The man got IMPEACHED, for God's sake, and he's still more popular than Obama.
Chester A. Arthur
Matt: I humbly nominate our 21st president, Chester A. Arthur. Why this particular beefy, mustachioed former commander in chief? Well, because Chester A. Arthur was our first immigrant president. Arthur, who claims to have been born in a cottage in Vermont, is rumored to have actually been born in Canada. Unconstitutional? Sure! But Major League Baseball could use some more mascots who celebrate its international flavor.
Cory: Not only can the man fly around the baseball diamond on the wings of his walrus-like mutton chops, but he was unelected, assumed the office widely distrusted as a product of the corrupt New York City political machine, and left well-respected after pushing through the Pendleton Act, which stipulated that government jobs should be awarded purely on merit. And we all know that's how it works today, thanks to Chester "Awesome" Arthur.
Recommended by Matt Vasilogambros
Matt: There’s already an airport named after him in the capital city. Why not make him a staple of Nationals Park and complete his legacy? Plus, now fans could say “Win one for the Gipper” and finally be talking about Foam Reagan.
Recommended by George E. Condon
George: Right now, they only have popular presidents running, those who have been crowned as “great” by historians. But drama demands a villain. Since nobody would recognize the pro-slavery Franklin Pierce or James Buchanan, we need more-recognizable presidents who might draw a few boos. Richard Nixon or George W. Bush—both big baseball fans—might fit the bill.
Recommended by Emma Angerer
Emma: The Nats have a chance to bring back to the forefront one of our forgotten presidents—yet one who was a uniter after the Civil War and generally kick-ass. Plus, according to the Christian Science Monitor: “He was in office for only four months, and I think that's the reason [he’s listed at the bottom of presidential lists]. But he was in Congress for almost 18 years. And what he accomplishes in four months is to defeat arguably the most powerful and most corrupt man in the country, Senator Roscoe Conkling, by sticking to his own ideals and believing in himself." Basically, everybody loves an underdog, like the Nats!
Recommended by Ben Schreckinger
Ben: Not in the form of a mascot. I think the actual vice president should come to every game and race. In fact, for reasons of national morale, I think that Vice President Joe Biden, like the singing of the national anthem, should be an obligatory part of every major sporting event.
Recommended by Charlie Green
Charlie: He was a huge baseball fan. His son-in-law worked for the Washington Senators. He wouldn’t be above engaging in dirty tricks to keep the other presidents from winning. And watching him flash his signature “V for Victory” sign after he crossed the finish line would be worth the price of admission.
William Howard Taft
Recommended by Ben Terris
Ben: Super fat.
Recommended by Elahe Izadi
Elahe: Two words: Old Hickory. The man engaged in multiple duels—multiple duels—and lived to talk about them. Once, Jackson challenged a man to a duel after he insulted his wife's honor. The man shot Jackson first and then, somehow, Jackson managed to shoot back and kill the man. So yeah, I'm pretty sure he'd intimidate all the other mascots, given he is the most badass American president to date. Granted, I doubt that he'll have the emotional pull of other presidents—he was a steadfast supporter of the institution of slavery and he displaced several Native American tribes, on what came to be known as the Trail of Tears. So, there is that.
John F. Kennedy
Recommended by Chris Peleo-Lazar
Chris: This year, we will come upon the 50th anniversary of one of America’s greatest tragedies—JFK’s assassination. But JFK has a history with D.C. sports. He threw out the first pitch when D.C. Stadium (later renamed RFK Memorial Stadium) opened. Afterwards, he told the team, “I leave you in first place.” The Washington Senators went on to lose 101 games that year but it’s the thought that counts. JFK loved baseball so much that he made his friend and adviser David Powers “undersecretary of baseball” and official scorekeeper.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Recommended by Jill Lawrence
Jill: The Nats should go for Franklin Roosevelt, aka Frank or Frankie. Sure, his private life was not exactly a model for the nation’s young people, and that cigarette is a political-correctness no-no these days. Nor should a Frankie foamhead be read as an endorsement for court-packing. But the man did save capitalism, revive a battered nation, reshape the political landscape and the world, and all that jazz. Plus, he’d add diversity to the mascot crew as the only Democrat and the only racing president with a disability. His participation, in a scooter or a wheelchair, would be seriously inspirational whether he won or lost. And imagine the fireside pep talks he could give the Nats on their down days. “The only thing you have to fear is fear itself....” He even comes with his own theme song, "Happy Days Are Here Again."
Warren G. Harding
Recommended by Niraj Chokshi
Niraj: There's no better way to spice up a competition than with corruption and a mysterious fatality. Warren Gamaliel Harding (what a sweet middle name, right?) served only 2.5 years, but his administration had more than its fair share of scandals. It was so bad, in fact, that he embarked on a "Voyage of Understanding" speaking tour to restore faith in his administration. Along the way, he got sick and mysteriously died in San Francisco. Then his wife burned up to 60 percent of his documents. Every footrace can benefit from a few dirty tricks.
Recommended by Brian Resnick
Brian: Don't tell me Benjamin Franklin wasn't technically "a president of the United States." He's on the $100 bill; that's qualifying enough. And it's time history accept Franklin for who he truly was: a total badass. (I'm expecting in the next few years a Ben Franklin: Vampire and/or Zombie Hunter movie to be released. Franklin will be played by Sean Connery, of course.) Franklin is what the other founding fathers wished they were—a world-renowned Casanova who had the free time to invent daily necessities such as bifocals. And while he didn't "invent" electricity, he didn't fear the deadly power of lightning. And that takes fortitude. He's kind of like the Chuck Norris of the Founding Fathers. Bet on Franklin—he wins every time.
William Henry Harrison
Recommended by Ben Fishel
Ben: He dies after 30 paces.
The Current President
Recommended by Matthew Cooper
Matthew: The fifth president to don cleats would be the current one. Obama now and whoever follows him. The upsides of rotating in a new president are:
A. You’re following the people and not rendering a potentially tricky judgment between, say, JFK and Reagan.
B. You don’t have to reach back to another powdered-wig figure like John Adams.
C. You sell more merchandise because you keep having new presidents.
D. FDR would be clever—universally acclaimed except by a few, and the disability would be breakthrough—but the prospect of him coming in last would be unsettling.
E. Ike has a certain bland appeal but is too bland.
F. "W." makes sense. A former owner who had the good sense to side with Bart Giamatti. The downside is … well …
All photos Associated Press. Aside from The Villain, which is ShutterStock.