Results tagged ‘ Racing Presidents ’

Life on the Berm

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As the Nationals face Atlanta on a warm spring evening in Lake Buena Vista, we’re in Braves country, but there is a smattering of Nationals red throughout the seats. With Stephen Strasburg starting and Bryce Harper playing in center field, there are number 37 and 34 jerseys visible dotting the crowd.

We make our way down the left field line and atop the berm, which wraps around from halfway down the line to left-center field, passing the “All-You-Care-To-Eat” tent (just $25!) on the trip. Among the ushers standing along the top ridge is Debbie H., a self-described snowbird from Highland, Md., who spends roughly half the year in the Orlando area. Although she’s not even a huge baseball fan, she applied for a job working at Champion Stadium last season, and has loved her time here. This is her sixth game of the spring, all of which have been spent on the berm.

“I love it,” she says of her job. “I’m glad I took it.”

She highlights the freedom that the open, grassy space offers to fans, including the ability to shed their shoes and socks, almost like an outdoor concert.

“A lot of people like to be able to lay down, spread out, get some sun,” she says, which is certainly the case this evening, as we are squarely in the sun field for this 6:05 start.

There's plenty of room to spread out on the berm in Lake Buena Vista.

Debbie has also noticed the influx of Washington fans at this particular game. One of her favorite parts of the job is to be able to chat with fans of the different teams that visit Lake Buena Vista each March.

“Some people take their vacation because the Nationals are here,” she explains. “I think it’s really neat that people are willing to follow their teams during Spring Training.”

We make our way to the far outfield end of the berm and shuffle down towards a quartet of fans. The first one we meet is Pat S., who is wearing a Racing Presidents shirt and who is out here celebrating his birthday. Born in St. Mary’s County, Md., he and his wife now live in the Orlando area. While he used to attend 12-14 games each spring, this is his first of 2012. He wasn’t going to miss Strasburg pitch. But does he always sit on the berm?

“Absolutely,” says Pat.

“Everywhere we go,” chips in friend David T., who also lives in Orlando but originally hails from northeastern Pennsylvania. “I like it because I can lounge out and hang out.”

Pat sheds a different perspective on why he likes the view from the grass.

Playing catch in the twilight on the berm.

“I’m an outfielder when I play softball, so this is where I view the game from,” he explains. “Anywhere else to me just looks so abnormal that I can’t judge the game or watch the game.”

As we sit there, Chad Tracy pops a two-run shot over the right-field wall, opposite of where we are sitting. Two batters later, Jesus Flores powers one out to nearly the same spot, leveling the score at 3-3. While a two-home run inning that ties the game would normally be cause for a raucous celebration, the combination of the road environment, the relative insignificance of a Spring Training result, and the relaxed nature of life on the berm make this just another moment in the game to enjoy.

We chat baseball with Pat and David for a while longer and the sun finally dips below the top of the seats on the first base side. In that ideal moment, the sting of the glare is suddenly gone, and the temperature eases a few degrees cooler to perfection, the twilight settling in above us. As we soak in the splendor of the display, Pat draws our attention to the scene unfolding in front of us.

“Does it get any better than this?” he ponders.

In the space between us and the wall, a group of about six kids, boys and girls, ranging several years in age, have gathered and paired off to play catch in the grass. With the contest itself in the background almost an afterthought, the pure joy of the game takes precedence over anything that might be happening on the field. As we thought about Pat’s question, we found it impossible to disagree.

Presidents (Race) Day Weekend

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Saturday officially kicked off Presidents Day Weekend, which made it as good a time as ever to bring the Racing Presidents out for their first workout of the New Year. After all, with pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training on Sunday, it was about time to start whipping the mascots into shape for the 2012 season as well.

With a host of media on hand, each Commander in Chief was tested in the 40-yard dash, as well as the traditional race from center field to the home dugout along the warning track. There was some dust to be shaken off early, but George, Tom and Abe appeared to be in mid-season form by day’s end. Notably missing in action was Teddy, who arguably could have used the tune-up the most.

We’ve posted a couple photos of the events below, as well as a poll. We’ll be in Viera all of next week following the holiday, but stay tuned for a full video recap of Saturday’s events, featuring some of the best races and worst spills of the day coming up in the next couple weeks.

The Racing Presidents pose for the press.

Abe at the turn.

The Presidents model their victory dances.


The Rush to Rushmore

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Are you a born leader? Do you consider yourself “presidential”? Has anyone ever told you that you have Kennedy hair? Do you have what it takes to literally “run” for the highest office in the land?

If you believe you have it in you to lead our great nation – or at least lead three of y our cohorts from the center field gate to the finish line in front of the Nationals’ dugout – perhaps you are fit to be a Racing President. The Nationals will hold tryouts for the 2012 crew of George, Tom, Abe and Teddy on (fittingly) Presidents Day Weekend. If you would like to join in the fun of the award-winning entertainment team, make sure you meet the following qualifications:

Tom and George team up for a tandem victory.

–          Stand between 5’7” and 6’6”

–          Have the ability to run from center field to home plate (approx. 200 yards) in 40 seconds or less

–          Have the ability to wear a costume weighing up to 45 pounds for several hours

–          Be available for at least 35 Nationals home games

If you meet the criteria and would like to apply, send a photo, resume and cover letter to Tryouts will be by invitation only, and will be held on Saturday, February 18 at Nationals Park.

You may never have your likeness carved into the side of a mountain, but you could have the opportunity to gloriously cross the finish line first, to the delight of thousands of adoring fans.

Return Of The “Pack”

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Preparation for the upcoming season extends to every facet of the organization, including our gameday staff. One of our most important teams of staff members, which you will most certainly recognize if you have ever been to a game at Nationals Park, is the NatPack.

Have you ever wondered just who these young men and women are who come together to help make your in-park experience as fun as possible? Have you ever wished you were one of them? We will hold a two-day tryout – Saturday, January 28 and Sunday January 29 at Nationals Park – to find the best of the best for this year’s NatPack. With the excitement building around the 2012 season, these tryouts promise to be full of Nationals fans looking for a chance to represent their favorite team on the field.

Do you think you have what it takes to make the team? NatPack vets Katie and Kenny share their experiences, their advice and what they are looking forward to in 2012.

Curly W Live: What does it take to be a member of the NatPack?

Katie shows her support for Michael Morse as a candidate in the 2011 All-Star Game Final Vote.

Katie: You have to be outgoing, personable and enthusiastic so you can give the fans a memorable and positive experience every time they come to the ballpark. You also need to be able to handle the pressure of working a live event because things will not always go as planned.  At any moment, you need to be ready to step up and handle what is thrown your way.

Kenny: You have to be comfortable talking to people and have an outgoing personality. You also have to have a positive outlook on things and circumstances, as certain situations such as the final score or other factors may not turn out your way during a game.

CWL: What has been your favorite moment at the ballpark?

Katie: I had the opportunity to work the game where Stephen Strasburg pitched his Major League debut.  I have never seen the stadium buzzing with that much energy and it made my role even more exciting!

Kenny: My favorite moment at the ballpark last season was the concert that featured Lifehouse after the game.  It was the first time be a part of. It’s always good to say that you witnessed something or were a part of something the first time it occurred.

CWL: What has been your favorite off-the-field memory?

Katie: The unveiling of the new jerseys.  We had the chance to help advertise the new look of the team.

Kenny: The road trip to the Pittsburgh Pirates stadium (PNC Park) and taking the Racing Presidents with us.  This has been an annual trip for the last few seasons, but this year we were able to take some of our new NatPack members and Racing Presidents.  It’s nice to interact with fans from a different team and just see how other entertainment teams operate.

CWL: What keeps you coming back to be a part of the NatPack year after year?

Katie: The whole team we work with. They are all so amazing, and we have created many memories together as a family. Everyone is so dedicated to their jobs and it makes it a fun experience for all. Mingling with fans and keeping them happy is just part of my everyday job and it gives me a lot of satisfaction at the end of the day to know that they are going home happy.

Kenny escorts Olympic gold medalist Dominique Dawes.

Kenny: I keep coming back to be a part of the NatPack year after year because I have unfinished work to be completed. I have been a part of the NatPack since the very beginning in 2005 but I have not been able to see the team make it the playoffs or make it to the World Series. With all that I have seen, and all that I have accomplished with the Nat Pack I feel as though seeing my team make the playoffs and win the World Series would be perhaps the final hurdle.

CWL: What is something you didn’t know about the Nat Pack until you arrived?

Katie: It is a job that involves a lot of teamwork and loyalty to your fellow NatPackers. If you can’t work together and communicate with each other, the job will not be easy.

Kenny: I didn’t realize how long a baseball season could be, especially when you’re working 50% or more of the games. I have gotten used to it and very much enjoy spending a good portion of my spring and summer entertaining fans and watching baseball. 

CWL: What is your best piece of advice for all aspiring NatPack members?

Katie: Be yourself and don’t hold back.

Kenny: For any and all aspiring NatPack members my best piece of advice is to be as creative as possible.  As a member of the NatPack you have to have a winning attitude and you have to be on top of your game at all times, as the fans expect nothing but the best from you.

Auditions for the 2012 NatPack take place on Saturday, January 28 and Sunday, January 29 at Nationals Park. Send a photo, resume and cover letter here by Monday, January 23 for your chance to join in on the fun.

The Presidents journey to Vermont

Presidents in vermont.jpgThe Racing Presidents journeyed to Burlington, Vermont to watch the Short-season Vermont Lake Monsters last night. Teddy, George, Abe, Tom participated in their first Lake Monsters game.

They met with local fans and searched for the Lake Monster himself–they came up empty much like Teddy does on the race track. The Presidents put on their dancing shoes and had a dance-off with the Lake Monsters mascot, Champ, in the bottom of the second and fourth inning. He isn’t called Champ because he can dance.

The main event–the Presidents Race–took place in the bottom of the third inning. Tom and Abe started off neck and neck, but Abe pushed Tom into the backstop as they rounded home plate giving George a chance to make his move and he didn’t look back. George won the first Presidents Race in Vermont. Yes, Teddy still remains defeated. At the same time, he is really consistent and that’s what baseball is all about.

Racing Presidents test their skills on the rink

The award winning, oversized, athletic, multiple-sport Racing Presidents took their show to New York over the weekend. They have raced in Pittsburgh against the Pierogies a few times but this time they competed on a different terrain–an ice rink but unlike Disney on Ice this was worth watching.

It was the second year in a row that the presidents made the journey to the Big Apple to race during the second intermission of the New York Islanders game in honor of Presidents Day. The Islanders invited the presidents back after last year’s race was so popular. There wasn’t a game scheduled for Presidents Day, so George, Tom, Abe, and Teddy strapped on their skates and made their appearance on Valentine’s Day.

Teddy originally pitched the idea of racing at a different venue because he thought it would increase his chances of winning. As you probably could have guessed… it didn’t change the outcome.

When they weren’t racing on the rink–they raced around Manhattan making their oversized heads prominent in front of every popular landmark in Manhattan.

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