Teddy Roosevelt Is Lovable Loser in Washington Nationals' Game 'Presidents Race'

Fourth-inning tradition at Washington Nationals' home games gets fans going.

Oct. 2, 2009— -- Every city has a unique sports tradition.

In Milwaukee, there are the "racing sausages" at Brewers' baseball games. San Diego has had a chicken mascot at Padres games and Philadelphia has its beloved "Phillie Phanatic," a giant green thing that has entertained baseball fans for decades.

Washington has its presidents -- but not the ones that reside at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. These presidents have giant foam heads, making speeches a bit difficult.

Washington's most beloved presidents -- Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Teddy Roosevelt -- are the four competitors in the "presidents race," a fourth-inning tradition at every Washington Nationals home baseball game.

The concept is simple: Four costumed presidents, 200 yards and one mad dash to the finish line.

Every year, the Nationals hold open tryouts, usually on Presidents' Day weekend, where locals can suit up in the presidential costume and compete to be a racing president. There are usually three to five open spots a year.

The Nationals have struggled recently -- losing more than 100 games this season -- but the presidents race is a guaranteed crowd pleaser, sure to get fans out of their seats.

All of the presidents are popular. They are mobbed by fans before the game, they ham it up during the seventh inning stretch and they have even inspired bobblehead dolls.

The nation's 26th president, Teddy Roosevelt, is the overwhelming fan favorite, but that's primarily because he is a lovable loser.

Teddy is winless in nearly 300 races, a streak that spans three seasons. He often comes very close to victory only to see it snatched away by another president -- or a disqualification of his own doing.

Teddy's antics over the years have included riding a Segway scooter during the race, coming out on a motorcycle and frequently bringing in extra help from the stands to tackle the other presidents or disrupt the race.

Teddy's epic losing streak has earned him a cult following.

Scott Ableman, a season ticket holder from Virginia, set up a blog, "Let Teddy Win," to show his support his favorite racing president.

Is Roosevelt's Losing Streak Contributing to the Nationals' Woes?

Ableman is the unofficial historian of the presidents race, chronicling every running since 2007.

"Somebody's got to [root for Roosevelt]," Ableman said. "I mean, we have a whole movement, thousands of people are a part of this 'Let Teddy Win' movement. It's an injustice."

The Nationals say the race is not fixed and Teddy could win any time. The general consensus is that he just needs to want it more.

"Maybe Teddy has his own game plan, but me, personally, I don't tell him, 'Hey Teddy, you can't win today,'" said Tom Davis, the mascot coordinator for Washington Nationals. "I just don't think he takes it seriously enough. He likes to goof off a lot. Maybe that's just his personality, but each year we always hope he takes it a little more seriously in the off season."

"He's going to win when Teddy decides to win one of these days," said Ableman.

Some fans think that Teddy's losing streak is contributing to the Nationals' woes on the field

"I think if Teddy won it would really inspire the Nats. You know: If Teddy can do it we can do it," said Nats fan Mike Greenhill. "If you put it that way, he's gotta win, if only to help the Nats."

Others hope the Nationals' success isn't tied to Teddy's, given his record -- but perhaps the other way around.

"There are a lot of people who think it's going to take the Nationals going to the playoffs or even winning the World Series to let Teddy win," said Ableman. "We want it to happen."

Despite the losses, Teddy's diehard fans still have hope and the chance to see him finally win a race keeps them coming to the ballpark.

ABC News talked at the racing presidents before one of their final races of the 2009 season. The foam heads don't really allow for two-way conversation. Teddy was confident he could bring home a win. His rivals emphatically indicated he stood no chance.

Unfortunately, there was no great end-of-the-season triumph for Teddy Roosevelt. He finished 2009 winless and his fans struggled to come up with an explanation for the ineptitude.

"You know, he is recovering from a hamstring injury from a few weeks ago, so he was at a disadvantage," said Ableman. "Some offseason workouts and we can hope he can be ready to be competitive next spring."

Perhaps Teddy's fans, and Nationals' fans, can take comfort in that old Chicago saying that has keeps Cubs fans going: "There's always next year."

Top Stories

Top Stories

Top Stories

Top Stories

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events