What it takes to be a Nats racing president

WASHINGTON – It involves strength, stamina and a 50-lb. foam head. The Washington Nationals held tryouts for their racing presidential mascots Saturday.

Forty-five people were invited and 38 showed up at 8 a.m. at Nats Stadium in 25- degree temperatures.

Tom Davis, senior manager of entertainment for the team, deemed the weather conditions “actually not bad.” A few years ago, he says, “We had about 2 feet of snow on the warning track and we still ran it. Everybody here today got lucky.”

The Nats will pick 15 to 25 men and women to represent Presidents Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Taft this season.

It’s Jeff’s second time running for president. The Nationals ask candidates not share their last names.

“I was on Abe this time, and Abe was fantastic. I felt pretty strong. I don’t like the pants though – I’d rather have the knickers on, myself,” Jeff says.

He’s a middle-school teacher, but says he always keeps an eye out for interesting summer jobs. And this definitely qualifies.

“You had to send in a resume and a reason why (you want the gig) and a head shot and just kind of see what your experience is,” he says. Jeff has a little mascot experience with the Frederick Keys and at his school.

Candidates also had to show their celebration dance and how they’d pose in costume, and go through an interview to discuss their availability. They find out whether they made the squad in a few weeks.

This is the first try-out for the team for Artie, from Alexandria. And that’s exactly how he phrased it to his friends.

“I called my coach from high school said, ‘Hey I got a try out with the Nationals this Saturday!’ He said, ‘Congratulations; can I ask what position?’ I said, ‘To be the mascot,” Artie recalls.

He describes the harness for supporting the head like a backpack, but says the center of gravity is extremely high, which makes it difficult to keep your balance while running.

“You’re looking through his black bow tie. And it’s a little lower, so you’re kind of looking down. And your nose and forehead scrape the screen the whole time. You’re just basically getting beat up the whole time you’re running, but it’s worth every step,” he says.

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