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Nationals hold tryouts for presidential races

Sunday - 2/20/2011, 8:55am  ET

Three of the more than fifty people trying out to be one of the running presidents. (Aliese Polk/WTOP Photo)

Max Smith,

WASHINGTON - Have you ever stopped to think about the person inside a mascot costume?

They have hopes and dreams of making the big leagues, and 52 of those hopefuls have a chance to be one of the racing presidents you see at every Nationals home game.

The competitors put on the 45 pound costumes, were timed in the 40-yard dash, then ran from first base to center field and back in three-person heats.

"I'm looking for personality and people who are looking to have a lot of fun," says Nationals Entertainment Coordinator Tom Davis.

"My plan is blowing away the competition with my speed," says Paul, from Philadelphia. "I did time trials yesterday with a bag of mulch on my back."

After a minute or so of freestyle dancing, they took off the costumes and went inside to talk to an interview panel.

"I think it takes charisma, and I think you have to be an entertainer," says Matt, from D.C.

The tryouts only used the George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abe Lincoln costumes, keeping Teddy Roosevelt's losing streak alive.

"Actually, Teddy's on vacation," Davis jokes. "He likes to enjoy his President's Day Weekend."

But that's not deterring Stephanie from Alexandria.

"I think I would like to be Teddy because he's always doing something silly," she says, "I think if I'm Teddy it could be his year to win."

She came out with her sister after they heard about the tryouts on the radio and thought, "What would be cooler than being a racing president?"

"It's always been my dream," Joe, from Falls Church, says only half-jokingly. "My daughter's birthday party, I might dress up as Winnie the Pooh and then wear it out wherever I go... to the supermarket."

There were some issues with the wind, and some inexperienced runners, with several people falling down during the race.

But Davis from the Nationals says, "They're on their own... I want to see how they deal with it."

The finalists only used their first names and hometowns to protect the anonymity of the mascots. No one is allowed to talk while in the costumes.

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