The Nationals’ presidents race just got a whole lot bigger.
The team unveiled William Howard Taft as their fifth racing president Saturday at NatsFest at the Washington Convention Center.
The fictional racing Taft kicked off a likely rivalry with Roosevelt on Friday, firing the first shot via Twitter.
“Listen up @Teddy26Nats — we’ve run against each other in the past, now we’ll run together in 2013! #5thPresident,” he tweeted from @NatsBigChief27.
The two real-life presidents have a history that traces back over 100 years. Taft succeeded Roosevelt, with Teddy’s blessing, in the White House in 1908 to become America’s 27th President. But Roosevelt broke with Taft politically and opted to run against him in 1912 after creating the “Bull Moose” Progressive Party. The two split voters, allowing Woodrow Wilson to win the presidency.
In 1910, Taft became the first sitting president to throw a ceremonial first pitch, doing so before the Washington Senators’ home opener at Griffith Stadium. Every president since has participated in the tradition.
Taft is sometimes credited with creating the seventh-inning stretch, although many historians believe the tradition predates his presidency.
In addition to Roosevelt, Taft joins George Washington, Abe Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson in the race. Taft will be the only racing president that does not appear on Mount Rushmore.
Roosevelt traditionally lost every race, often in slapstick fashion, since the race began in 2006, leading to fans launching years-long “Let Teddy Win” campaigns. Roosevelt finally won at the last regular season game of the 2012 season, and followed up by winning at all three playoff games at Nationals Park.
The first presidents race of 2013 will take place on April 1st, when the Nationals open their season by hosting the Miami Marlins.