Who deserves it? A presidential historian on who should run the president's race
January 24th, 2013
04:04 PM ET
10 years ago

Who deserves it? A presidential historian on who should run the president's race

Washington (CNN) - The Washington Nationals baseball team used Twitter to announce that they'll add another president to their famed President's race starting in the 2013 season.

In Washington, D.C., the Nationals mid-inning race is a big deal. Since the team moved to Washington in 2006, caricatures of four presidents – Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and Theodore Roosevelt – raced around the field to the amusement of the crowd.

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Last year, when Teddy Roosevelt's long-running losing streak was broken, it came with the help of Sen. John McCain and a well-organized campaign to "Let Teddy Win."

So the fact that another president will grace the green grass of Nationals Park in April had politicos and baseball fans buzzing. Everyone wanted to know: "Who is it going to be?"

The answer to that question will remain a secret until Saturday, when the Nationals make the announcement at an event to honor the team.

In the meantime, we reached out to Richard Norton Smith, a presidential historian at George Mason University and someone who has worked at five presidential libraries, to give us the pros and cons of each possible president.

Andrew Jackson

Pro – "He is the only president that has an age named after him. The Age of Jackson."

Con – "I am not sure the Cleveland Indians or the Atlanta Braves would be eager to play any team with Andrew Jackson as a mascot."

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Pro – "If there was room on Mt. Rushmore for a 5th face, he would be it. And of course the first four presidents that the Nationals chose are all on Mt. Rushmore. He is the most logical to be added to the quartet. And, I suppose, as someone who has served longer than anyone else, he should be useful for extra innings."

Con – "He was a football cheerleader, which would be a con in baseball."

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Pro – "Ike actually played the game and I think if he had his druthers, he would have probably been a baseball star before he would have been a general or a president. He actually has experience."

Con – "I am not sure the hidden hand would be effective in left field catches."

John F. Kennedy

Pro – "He would lend glamour to the lineup. That is for sure."

Con – "There might be some questions about his father fixing the game."

Richard Nixon

Pro – "Nixon wanted to be a sports writer. Nixon came alive talking sports. I know that sounds odd, but if you want the real Nixon, get him talking baseball. At one point, he was actually considered for baseball commissioner and he was a man who probably could have been baseball commissioner but settled for president."

Con – "Where do we begin? Didn't he sell out baseball for ping pong in China?"

Ronald Reagan

Pro – "He called games as a radio announcer and he played Grover Cleveland Alexander in the movies. On radio and in the movies, he lived the game."

Con – "He would probably take excessive interest in Nicaraguan prospects."

Gerald Ford

Pro – "He excelled as late game replacement."

Con – "But had a tendency to run into and bean spectators."

Bill Clinton

Pro – "Incredible appetite for game."

Con – "Incredible appetite for game."

Barack Obama

Pro – "Coolest player on the field."

Con – "Doesn't always play well with others."

If Smith had his way, he says Woodrow Wilson would be the president who would most like to be portrayed at Nationals Park.

"The person who deserves it is because he loved the game, he played the game and if you go to his house you would see a baseball signed by King George X, is Woodrow Wilson," Smith said. "Wilson loved baseball and it was big part of his life."

As for who the professor thinks it will be: Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

"The easiest choice is FDR," he said. "If you are extending what you have already done, FDR is the obvious choice."

On a positive note though, he says, "At least they won't choose James Buchanan."

Filed under: Washington
soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Sniffit

    Ummm...FDR was mostly in a wheelchair from polio...I'm gonna go ahead and assume that the whole idea here is to avoid doing something utterly distasteful and offensive, so I find him to be an unlikely choice.

    January 24, 2013 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  2. William Conservative

    The president should be a American. Mr. Obama was born in Kenya. Don't beleive me? Ask his grandmother.

    You see both of his elections are void we should call for new elections right now and put a true conservative in the White House.


    January 24, 2013 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |