How Teddy Became Our Biggest Loser

By: Eliot Stein

In an era when some baseball players try injections or supplements to gain an edge, it’s comforting to know that fans can still root for a loser.

Teddy Roosevelt has become Washington’s most endearing mascot, emerging during the fourth inning of every Nationals home game with three other Rushmore-style Presidents to race around Nationals Park. Teddy’s winless streak remains unrivaled in all of professional sports since the race’s 2006 inception. Of course, losing every race requires some creativity. Our favorites from the 2009 season:

• May 23: With Teddy sprinting out of the gate, Nats fans started chanting, “Let Teddy win!” That’s when the Oriole Bird emerged from foul territory and tackled Teddy.

• June 10: Teddy led coming into the final turn but then stopped short of the finish line to welcome one of the Nats’ first-round picks, Drew Storen.

• June 24: When the Red Sox came to town, Teddy decided to take a break in the middle of the race, board his Rough Rider boat, and have a tea party.

• July 3: For the first home game after Michael Jackson’s death, the Presidents Race received a new soundtrack: “Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough.” Teddy didn’t get the message—he stopped to rock out in mid-race.

• July 20: In honor of the 40th anniversary of the first Apollo moon landing, Teddy donned what looked like an aluminum-foil astronaut’s helmet, failed to see where he was going, and finished in last place.

• July 26: Teddy’s come-from-behind victory was nullified by the Nats’ mascot, Screech, when it was determined that Teddy hadn’t, in fact, run but hopped aboard a motor scooter and driven to the finish line.

• July 31: In a relay race against Pittsburgh’s mascots, Abe handed Teddy the baton in the anchor leg. Teddy sprinted into fifth gear before Pittsburgh’s Potato Pete turned and laid him out.

• August 19: Jumping out to an early lead, Teddy pulled up on the warning track to update his Twitter page. Anyone following @Teddy26Nats saw where he was: “I’m in the lead! No one can stop me!” Moments later, the tech-savvy President stopped again to declare, “I’m taking this all the way!” before Honest Abe blew by him.

This article first appeared in the October 2009 issue of The Washingtonian. For more articles from that issue, click here.

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