Sunday, February 15, 2009

Looking For A Few Good Presidents

"It's like running with tunnel vision!" exclaimed one young lady.

"More like having horse blinders on," replied another gentleman.

"Either way, I can’t believe how difficult it really is to stay upright and run straight ahead"--said a third person.

All three had just completed their running auditions to become 2009 Racing Presidents at Nationals Park this morning. Approximately 60 candidates showed up, By Invitation Only, this Sunday February 15th on South Capitol Street. This being the second straight Presidents Day Weekend in which Our Washington Nationals were holding tryouts--to become one of Washington's increasingly Fab Four for 2009. Applicants had to submit their applications by February 9th. Those chosen were asked to show up today at Nationals Park.

"I am looking for some people that can convey fun and spunkiness," stated Tom Davis, Entertainment Coordinator for Our Washington Nationals. "Before they (contestants) all got here, I sent each applicant a questionnaire that helps me find out if they are outgoing people. Personality is really important, but the main thing I am looking for is someone wanting to have a good time.”

Fun and popularity is what The Racing Presidents are all about. Many would say their personalities have become larger than life. GW, Abe & Tom all just recently were invited to some of The Presidential Inaugural Balls. And all four, including Teddy, will be heading to Long Island, New York, Monday night to celebrate Presidents Day on the Home Ice of The New York Islanders Hockey Team. “I am amazed at how popular The Presidents have become," said Mr. Davis. "We travel all over the place now. They have come into their own. They seem to have their own identities. Wherever we go, they are like Photo Magnets. People can't get enough of them."

And that ever growing popularity is also a drawing point for those who want to entertain Our Fans at each and every home ball game at Nationals Park. "It’s a pretty good deal," exclaimed returning veteran Jay. "You get to be a mascot at the games. We got the opportunity to travel to Pittsburgh to race their Pierogies last year. We even went to The All-Star Game (in New York last summer) just to hang out. We are going up to The Islanders game tomorrow to skate. There are some really good fringe benefits—especially if you are a sports fan. You get to do a lot of cool and really interesting things.”

About 20 to 30 of today's candidates will be chosen in the near future to compete in a Mid-4th Inning Presidents Race coming to Nationals Park in the near future. It's a part-time and seasonal paid position. On this day, not only were the new hopefuls on hand--but also many veterans trying to again lock up their jobs for the coming season. Only George's, Tom's & Abe's outfits were used. As usual, Teddy was out of sight--"Officially" in training for the new season.

Each audition consisted of a 40 Yard Dash with each person fully dressed as GW, Tom or Abe from the centerfield warning track toward the leftfield foul line. Then, three hopefuls lined up and re-created the entire 4th Inning Race, moving as fast as their legs would take them from centerfield, around the right field warning track to the finish line--galloping past the waving checkered flag.

Whereupon the threesomes were each given some sort of impromptu skit which they had to act out while racing back to the starting line in centerfield. At that point, each candidate was asked to show their victory celebrations and free-style dance moves. Finally, personal one-on-one interviews in The NatPack Dressing Room. This was a one-time audition. There were no do-overs.

Speed was important, but so was the individuality shown toward getting the judges recognition. Everyone needed to stand out.

”I am here to add a little female estrogen, freshen things up a little bit," said Stephanie from Arlington. "I’ve even got my Ladies Night's dance moves coming. The Presidents need a little female touch to add to their personalities." Seven women tried out today--an all time high.

Robert from DC: “I do a 4.4 second 40 yard dash. It’s probably going to be a little more in the costume. But I’ve got a couple of tricks up my sleeves as well. I am pretty entertaining guy I tend to think. My extreme dance moves will cinch it for me. (chuckling) That’s going to be my secret weapon.”

Then there was Brad from Reston who has played The Easter Bunny over the past three years at Reston Town Center and Santa Claus as well. He considers himself the class clown. "This stuff is right up my alley. If they would tell me I could sign as a free agent for a case of beer and a shot—them I’m in!! And to think my parents sent me to college for seven and one-half years to do this?" Brad says he's an aspiring comedian.

But for originality no one came as prepared as Alan from Clinton, Maryland. Already 6'5" in height, Alan's audition as Tom--was on a UniCycle. Yes, that's right on a UNICYCLE. Just the sight of a Racing President moving down the warning track in such style was easily the highlight of the tryouts. There was not a single Television or Still Media Camera not directed at his attempt. Alan did have some issues--he fell off a couple of times, but Alan had caught Washington's attention. “I’ve given them (The Nationals) an idea of having me on the unicycle, typing away on my blackberry while everyone else is chasing me," said Alan. Clearly, Entertainment Staff of Our Washington Nationals were mighty interested in his concept.

The Racing Presidents Auditions played out over a full three hour period today at Nationals Park. Hopefuls will be notified sometime over the next few weeks whether they made The 2009 "Rushmore" Team.

“I don’t care how difficult it is, or was," exclaimed Mike. "Just the atmosphere of being out here at the ballpark, with the opportunity of being with the fans, being on the field--that’s something I hope to get to do for this entire season—maybe more. What could be a more fun way to enjoy baseball?"

Yes, this was a holiday weekend At Nationals Park spent with everyone having a good time--Looking For A Few Good Presidents.

PS--Tom Davis did share with me a funny story about Abe clearing security on Inauguration Day while attempting to ride The Illinois State Float for The President's Inaugural Parade: “When we brought him up to sign in for the float, Secret Service didn’t really know what was going on. You could see it on their faces-total confusion: ‘What is this guy? Are you serious!?’ (Chuckling). But this was just so overboard they had to find out the truth. So, they went around and found someone (in charge of the parade) who knew what was going on and they finally let us in. There really was no problem--but it was very, very funny."

All Photos--Copyright Nats320--All Rights Reserved


Anonymous said...

Two things:

Update on the Red Porch?

And what percentage of the pool was non-white? I noted how odd it was to ask for a headshot when they first sent out the request for resumes (facial appearance being completely irrelevant for the job), but from the pictures, the only non-white faces were photographers or people with Nationals badges. What gives? DC is not white.

Screech's Best Friend said...

The African Queen and I don't appreciate those who always see everything in black and white. Alan, the unicyclist was African-American. So were four other folks auditioning.

And a handful of asian and hispanic.

As for the Red Porch, it's suppose to be expanded, according to Team President Stan Kasten at NatsFest. There was nothing new noticeable from field level yet. But that doesn't mean nothing is going on.

Anonymous said...

The MLB Network's Hot Stove show covered the racing Presidents tonight at about 54 minutes after the hour.

Wasn't much but they showed some of the tryouts.

Michael said...

Great Article. I ran the first race and i saw im in the first picture. Is there any way i can get a copy of the picture. I didnt get selected but it was a great time being a president for one day.

yazzy1956 said...

I've always thought it would be a good idea for the Nats to expand the pool of presidents just to keep the races from getting stale. The novelty has worn off and how many more goofy ways can they come up with for Teddy to lose. I'm not talking Millard Fillmore here, but other well known presidents like Andrew Jackson (except for Braves games), Truman, Ike, JFK, Nixon, John Adams, Reagan. Make it a season-long round robin. And since I have a special needs little boy I think it would be really cool to have FDR in a wheelchair to show disabled people can accomplish big things. Since kids love the races it would be a fun way to introduce them to US History!