I confess: I am somewhat obsessed with mascots.
From T.C. Bear in Minnesota to Lou Seal in San Francisco, meeting team mascots on road trips has become as much a part of my ballpark experience as hot dogs and beer. I watch mascots during pregame introductions and festivities and always seek them out for photos. It has become a tradition I affectionately refer to as "mascot stalking."
When I made my first visit to Nationals Park in 2011, I made sure I was in my seat in the middle of the fourth inning. I didn't want to miss the team's famous Racing Presidents -- George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt -- as they sprinted from center field, along the warning track, and down the first-base line to the finish line near the dugout.
Since the Racing Presidents made their debut during the 2006 season, the race has been a highlight for a struggling team. Even with the optimism surrounding the Nationals' team prospects this season (despite failing to land free-agent prize Prince Fielder), George, Abe, Tom and Teddy remain the franchise's most visible ambassadors within baseball and the community at large.
And on Saturday of Presidents' Day weekend (naturally), the Nationals hosted their sixth year of auditions for presidential hopefuls. When a friend familiar with my mascot obsession forwarded me the press release, I knew I had to be there. The opportunity to actually wear one of those hallowed six-foot-high heads and show off my craziest dance moves seemed too good to pass up. After a few emails and phone calls, the team extended an invitation for an audition, and potential humiliation.
Yes, I was running for president.
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