WASHINGTON – It was audition day at Nationals Park where 58 finalists tried out to become the next Racing President.
Selected fans hoping to fill the shoes of George, Tom, Abe, Teddy and Bill competed in a 40-yard dash and two races from center field to first base. The contestants were also judged on their freestyle dance and victory poses Saturday.
The Nationals requested reporters only use the first names of the finalists to preserve the mascots’ anonymity.
John, a 26-year-old Arlington resident, was the first to strap on George Washington’s head and complete the forty-yard dash.
“It was harder than I expected. When they run during the games, they go so fast they make it look easy. But as soon as I took my first few steps I was like ‘Wow.’ Just trying to stay balanced was tough.”
This was his first Nationals mascot audition.
“Every time I come to the games, the Presidents’ race is always the best part. So I thought it would be really cool to see if I could get it. But it’s wicked hard.”
D.C. firefighter John, a 32-year-old Crofton, Md., resident, says he’s been coming to Nationals games for years.
“I think the Presidents’ races are one of the best traditions in baseball. I’ve always wanted to be a mascot. So this is a chance to fulfill a lifelong dream today. So hopefully I make the team.”
He said the hardest part of the tryout was the forty-yard dash.
“The strap of my costume actually popped open so I was just trying not to fall,” he says.
Jodi from Olney, Mc., says it was the best race she ever lost.
“Incredible! Just incredible! Here I am on a Saturday afternoon on the warning track at Nats Park. I couldn’t be happier,” she says.
Tom Davis, the Washington Nationals Entertainment Manager, says speed isn’t the only deciding factor.
“I like to have the fastest because it’s fun to see. But definitely personality will overshadow speed,” he says. “If you can make George your own, that really helps you.”
The 12-foot oversized mascots weigh at least 30 pounds. Contestants raced in George, Tom, and Abe costumes. Teddy and Bill are on vacation.
The tryout was invitation-only. Hundreds of applicants submitted a cover letter, resume and recent photo. The applicants completed a questionnaire about their personalities and knowledge of the Presidents.
The pool for the 2013 baseball season was narrowed down to 60 hopefuls. The winner will find out they got the part-time seasonal job sometime this week.