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Taft is new racing president

Jan 26, 2013, 2:27 AM EST

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
William Howard Taft debuts at NatsFest on Saturday.

The Nationals unveiled a new racing president Saturday afternoon, one with a built-in connection to baseball and the kind of physique that could provide some comedic value.

William Howard Taft "agreed to terms" to be the Nationals' fifth racing president, "pending a physical," the club announced Friday night. Apparently the rotund, 300-pound, 27th Commander-in-Chief was cleared by doctors, because he was officially unveiled Saturday afternoon at NatsFest to roaring applause from the crowd.

Taft joins George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt in the expanded racing presidents shtick, highlighted by the nightly race in the middle of the fourth inning. "Bill," as the mascot will be called, already has a built-in rivalry with Teddy, who in 1912 attempted to defeat his successor for the Republican Party nomination and ultimately chose to create the "Bull Moose" Party and run as a third-party candidate. (Both wound up losing to Democrat Woodrow Wilson.)

Taft also has a strong connection to baseball. On April 14, 1910, he threw out the first pitch before the Senators' game against theRead more »

  1. peric - Jan 26, 2013 at 2:32 AM


  2. Doc - Jan 26, 2013 at 2:32 AM

    He won't pass the physical!

  3. NatsJack in Florida - Jan 26, 2013 at 3:05 AM

    I absolutely LOVE IT!

  4. ehay2k - Jan 26, 2013 at 3:10 AM

    Will Screech ask for HIS old rotund physique back?If not, the Nats may get a call from Eagle Rights folks!

  5. baseballswami - Jan 26, 2013 at 3:32 AM

    I know I sound like a crab, but I just don't give a crap.

  6. Steady Eddie - Jan 26, 2013 at 3:49 AM

    It's OK — comic relief — a Prez who can genuinely and properly be regarded as a buffoon. Lousy President, worse Chief Justice, stuffed shirt who can be booed and laughed at without reserve or compunction.

  7. Theophilus T. S. - Jan 26, 2013 at 3:54 AM

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  8. Theophilus T. S. - Jan 26, 2013 at 3:56 AM

    Better'n listening to people moan about how good the Braves are. Actually, as JayB would say, I told everyone Taft would be the guy — I just wrote it in invisible ink.The inevitable question is, what future Presidents are going to come up through the Nats' system. My guess is you can't fit any more Presidents into this gig/through the door in CF — especially when one is His Rotundity, the Chief Justice. But if there were to be a sixth one, it has to be one w/ some visual comic appeal, so my money would be on Truman, Coolidge or — I can hardly wait for him to be eligible — Obama w/ his Bullwinkle ears.

  9. Steady Eddie - Jan 26, 2013 at 4:11 AM

    Theo — my bet was formerly on JFK but the choice of Taft strongly suggests they are less likely to add a President who was in office during the lives of many current fans. As long as we're getting into mediocre Presidents, lots of visual comedy in any number of the late 19th century variety — Chet Arthur, Grover Cleveland, Benjamin Harrison.

  10. Scooter - Jan 26, 2013 at 4:33 AM

    They could call Grover Cleveland "Pete."

  11. Tony - Jan 26, 2013 at 5:37 AM

    Taft? That's daft.

  12. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Jan 26, 2013 at 5:50 AM

    Theophilus T. S. said… Better'n listening to people moan about how good the Braves are. Actually, as JayB would say, I told everyone Taft would be the guy — I just wrote it in invisible ink.Correct, on so many levels.

  13. jimbo - Jan 26, 2013 at 6:47 AM

    They could call Grover Cleveland Alexander.

  14. Gonat - Jan 26, 2013 at 11:42 AM

    Good pick!

  15. Laddie Blah Blah - Jan 26, 2013 at 11:55 AM

    Millard Fillmore.

  16. Rabbit34 - Jan 26, 2013 at 11:57 AM

    I'd rather watch a lava lamp.

  17. NatsLady - Jan 26, 2013 at 12:10 PM

    LOL, rabbit, I'm with you. But I try to remember the Presidents' stuff is for children, and if they are motivated to look up a little history, that's good. And, after all, sports are for grown-up children.

  18. Candide - Jan 26, 2013 at 12:11 PM

    When did Taft go up on Mount Rushmore with George, Tom, Abe, and Teddy? Did I miss a breaking news alert?

  19. Traveler8 - Jan 26, 2013 at 12:17 PM

    Yes, Candide, clearly you have never seen the back side of Mount Rushmore…

  20. Positively Half St. - Jan 26, 2013 at 12:20 PM

    All bah humbugs aside, there is an advantage to giving the club a multi-dimensional identity. The number 1 by far is being a winning team, and being considered as one. But having a memorable park, memorable traditions, and other bits of lore keep your team from being the Padres or the Devil Rays. Heck, even the hideous uniforms that Houston and the White Sox once sported give them team identity, and the White Sox are going to wear them again at times this year because of the nostalgia.+1/2St.

  21. Gonat - Jan 26, 2013 at 12:41 PM chart shows you how the 2013 Nats were assembled.

  22. cshunley123 - Jan 26, 2013 at 12:49 PM

    Hate these electronic tickets

  23. NatsJack in Florida - Jan 26, 2013 at 12:52 PM

    Wooooo Hoooooo…..just ordered my 15 game mini-plan. The first 7 will be the Cards and Reds series in late April.Hope to see a bunch of you during Spring Training. Have fun at Natsfest today.

  24. NatsJack in Florida - Jan 26, 2013 at 12:54 PM

    And another thing. They're saying 80 degrees today. If I have to turn on the A/C today, I'm going to be pissed.

  25. baseballswami - Jan 26, 2013 at 1:04 PM

    NatsJack- that mean streak is showing again.

  26. Joe Seamhead - Jan 26, 2013 at 1:06 PM

    Hey, Jack, good morning to you.We went ahead and got tix for Mar.13, 16,& 18 at Space Coast. If you offer for two is still good for the 14th Mrs. S and I would love to hook up. Let me know and we'll figure out thre logistics. Thanks.

  27. sjm308 - Jan 26, 2013 at 1:18 PM

    Not a big fan but 1/2 street makes a decent point. I think back and those who are here for just one game start asking about the "race" almost as soon as they get settled. Had to laugh at Laddie's pick. Mr. Filmore is always my choice. Maybe the most unrecognizable of all our Presidents. He was #13 and if you look, there are not a whole lot of accomplishments. I don't think I have ever met anyone named Millard.Will bale on the Natsfest today. Natsjack, my plan has a game in each series so hopefully we will meet up.Go Nats!! World Series or Bust!!

  28. NatsJack in Florida - Jan 26, 2013 at 1:24 PM

    You got'em Joe. Look forward to seeing you.

  29. NatsJack in Florida - Jan 26, 2013 at 1:39 PM

    Swami…….you guys get Natsfest…..I get weather.

  30. djinFl. - Jan 26, 2013 at 1:58 PM

    You took the words right out of my mouth NJ. You didn't tell them all the trees and azaleas are in full bloom. No days below 70 on the 10 day forcast. Life is good.

  31. baseballswami - Jan 26, 2013 at 2:03 PM

    And very soon we all get——– Baseball!!!!!!!

  32. Steady Eddie - Jan 26, 2013 at 2:06 PM

    NatsJack, my wife and I had to go on our 12 year old's spring break, so the only Viera game we'll be at is vs ATL on Sunday March 24. But we have tix for Sec. 213 which as I recall is right behind yours, so look forward to seeing you then.

  33. Steady Eddie - Jan 26, 2013 at 2:07 PM

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  34. Muddy - Jan 26, 2013 at 2:42 PM

    Oh boy, more presidents. Great. IMO, the COO should improve the quality of the concessions generally at Nats Park and the personnel in the Stars & Stripes Club (S&SC) rather than add another president. The service personnel in S&SC often seem uninterested and are packed-up and either gone or standing around chatting by the middle of the 7th inning. (The two bars areas in Stars and Stipes are the exception. They stay open for 1/2 hour after the game and generally seem to offer decent service.) The concessions at Orioles Park are generally better — and even at Bowie and Frederick, MD –than at Nats Park.

  35. natsfan1a - Jan 26, 2013 at 2:46 PM

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  36. natsfan1a - Jan 26, 2013 at 2:47 PM

    Yeah, yeah. Warm and sunny. Blah blah. Well, we have variety in our weather, and fall foliage. So there. :-)I'll be heading out to Nats Fest in about an hour. As previously noted, will primarily be listening to the Q&A sessions. (Sidebar: Kind of odd that the state of the Nats session is during the STH portion of the activities. I'd have guessed they'd want to sell it to the non-STH people – "Would you care for a glass of this tasty red beverage? There's plenty to go around.") But whatever. The anything but baseball Q&A sounds intriguing. I may ask "What's your fave line from Bull Durham?" :-) On topic: Put me down for "Meh" on the racing presidents.

  37. LoveDaNats - Jan 26, 2013 at 2:48 PM

    Too bad. When I heard the were making a major announcement about the president's race, I was hoping for it's demise.

  38. baseballswami - Jan 26, 2013 at 3:00 PM

    Sigh…… I know it's necessary to the whole fan experience , but I tend to be a purist. Give me my scorebook and leave me alone. But then, if you have ever been in Philly, their entire fan base is like that. No sense of humor and they never seem to enjoy any of it. We would not want to become like them. Right?

  39. Faraz Shaikh - Jan 26, 2013 at 3:19 PM

    President Taft and Baseball

  40. Scooter - Jan 26, 2013 at 3:20 PM

    swami, I've found that if you want to ignore the race, it's really not that hard to do. (I started watching it last year, by the way, and I think it's often fairly clever.)

  41. c715e5d6-9d22-11e1-a89a-000f20980440 - Jan 26, 2013 at 3:22 PM

    We (that's myself and two Viera veterans) will be there Feb. 21-Mar 1. Maybe the games are better later, but being in the tax business for at least another couple of years, I need to get back to the office by 3/1. Only so much can be done from the ballpark with a laptop in one's lap (I know, I've tried). I do hope to meet those Insiders who happen to take the "early shift" or are locals.Now, if they really need a loser for the president's race, how about my less-than-illustrious relative: James Buchanan. ArVAFan

  42. Faraz Shaikh - Jan 26, 2013 at 3:27 PM

    oops, should have finished reading Mark's post. He, as usual, got it covered. I got kinda excited to bring in a Walter Johnson connection. Taft threw the first pitch to Walter Johnson.

  43. Joe Seamhead - Jan 26, 2013 at 3:33 PM

    Thanks, NatsJack! I got on Twitter, but still getting oriented with it. I ended up going ahead and getting tix for the other 3 gmes through the Nats sight, but rather then get box seats down the far lines, I got seats in 210,213,209 under the press box. Looking forward to the one game on the 14th with you.

  44. slidell2 - Jan 26, 2013 at 3:35 PM

    I was hoping that the P.R. people could just move on and let the racing prezs fade away (sell-outs, world class baseball, etc.). No, they're EXPANDING the concept. By the way, pun realized re Mr. Taft.As to choices, they of course wouldn't pick one where there are living relatives close about who might not think kindly of their forebear being regularly mocked and demeaned (however subtly).

  45. TimDz - Jan 26, 2013 at 3:37 PM

    Nats Jack…May your AC go into vapor lock…:)

  46. baseballswami - Jan 26, 2013 at 3:44 PM

    Echoing NatsJack's tweet. Those of you at the conference center please pass along experiences for those of us not in attendance. Have to live vicariously.

  47. Steady Eddie - Jan 26, 2013 at 3:50 PM

    At the line for NatsFest and its already a disorganized mess. No sign of where the line begins or ends — we've gone through the line around the entire circumference of the lobby and no entrance point in sight after 20 minutes moving in line. Can't imagine getting access to anything with this huge crowd — and it's only the STs.Hope they surprise us with later efficiency.

  48. natsfan1a - Jan 26, 2013 at 3:51 PM

    Will pass along my experiences after the fact, possessing only a not-so-smart phone. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.) :-)

  49. SonnyG10 - Jan 26, 2013 at 3:51 PM

    Add three more presidents and they could race two relay teams. ☺

  50. sjm308 - Jan 26, 2013 at 3:57 PM

    Steady – thanks for that update and while I am not happy for your difficulties it makes my last minute decision to skip this a little easier to take.

  51. NCNatsie - Jan 26, 2013 at 4:16 PM

    Slidell2 wrote: As to choices, they of course wouldn't pick one where there are living relatives close about who might not think kindly of their forebear being regularly mocked and demeaned.————————————————Robert Alfonzo "Bob" Taft,70, great-grandson of the former President, served two terms as Ohio from 1999 to 2007. He is currently associated with the University of Dayton, where he is working to set up an initiative called the Center for Educational Excellence. I worked with him many decades ago in state government in Illinois.My guess is that the pr reason for selecting Taft as a racer was based on his easily recognizable physical features. After all, if you put Milliard Fillmore out there nobody would recognize him. They didn't when he was President, either.

  52. John C. - Jan 26, 2013 at 4:16 PM

    Hey all – anyone else at Nats Fest, we're in the 3rd row just left of the aisle waiting for the "State if the Nats" speech. Glad they're doing this again, And I'm REALLY glad its indoors!

  53. Steady Eddie - Jan 26, 2013 at 4:30 PM

    Clip has long hair.Better organized once in the actual event but just too many people.But I agree John C. — with this many people, it would be flat-out unworkable to do this at Nats Park in January.

  54. Steady Eddie - Jan 26, 2013 at 4:41 PM

    Photo station is ridiculous — they got maybe 75 people thru in two groups (Gio-Haren and Clip-Det) in a half hour, with at least three times that many people still in line. Now nothing for the next half hour.Sjm, you did the right thing staying away. Welcome to the new world of the winning and popular Nats.

  55. Faraz Shaikh - Jan 26, 2013 at 4:45 PM

    is danny there with his beard?

  56. btharner - Jan 26, 2013 at 4:46 PM

    The race is fun and I'm glad they have changed it up. A little levity at the ballpark (especially since everybody is now expecting the Nats to win every game)is not a bad thing. I know it's a little silly for some of our fans, but it's a 60 second race. There are more annoying things at the park, like people who spend money for a ticket and then sit there and talk and largely ignore the game.

  57. Section 3, my sofa - Jan 26, 2013 at 4:49 PM

    New Fanfest Post

  58. notBobby - Jan 26, 2013 at 6:38 PM

    Bill should wield a judge's gavel and use that to whack other presidents in the race to get ahead.

  59. whatsanattau - Jan 26, 2013 at 7:04 PM

    Best one liner ever…

  60. natsfan1a - Jan 27, 2013 at 12:38 AM

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  61. Bryan - Jan 27, 2013 at 1:39 AM

    Bob Carpenter had a pretty good line today at one of the Q & A sessions when he said, "Apparently President Taft is the only conservative Republican who did well in the off-season."

  62. natsfan1a - Jan 27, 2013 at 2:07 AM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  63. natsfan1a - Jan 27, 2013 at 2:08 AM

    I think it was something like "the only conservative politician who had a good year", but it was a funny line regardless.





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