Another big-headed candidate is running for president. And no, this one isn’t vying for the GOP nomination.
Instead, this new candidate raced along the warning track at Nationals Park last Friday night, competing against the likes of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, William Howard Taft, and Theodore Roosevelt in the Presidents Race.
The Presidents Race takes place during the fourth inning of every Nationals game. The five (now six) mascot presidents race along the warning track while dressed in period attire and giant, foam caricature heads – an area of satiric art for which THE WEEKLY STANDARD has a soft spot.
The new guy? Calvin Coolidge, the 30th president of the United States, an avid baseball fan, and now the newest addition to the spectacle.
President Coolidge was introduced at Friday night’s game against the San Francisco Giants as a part of the newly minted deal between the Washington Nationals and the White House Historical Association. The WHHA is a private, non-profit organization founded in 1961 with the help of Jacqueline Kennedy.
For the past 35 years, a large portion of the funding for the WHHA has come from the sale of its annual White House Christmas Ornament. The 2015 edition honors President Coolidge, who lit up the first National Christmas Tree in 1923.
This year’s ornament is modeled after that tree. In its brass boughs hangs a baseball, in recognition of Coolidge’s love for what he called “our national game.” His wife, Grace Coolidge, was known as the First Lady of Baseball.
In addition, Coolidge was the last U.S. president to throw out the first pitch at a World Series game involving a Washington baseball team. That’s bad news if you happen to cheer for the Nats or, as the Washington team was called in 1924, the Senators.
It was Coolidge’s love for baseball that led Stewart McLaurin, the president of the White House Historical Association, to reach out to the Washington Nationals. McLaurin said that the partnership “works because the Nationals honor the American presidents and we honor the White House. So it’s that connection…that is central to what we’re doing with the Nationals.”
Earlier this year, the two organizations signed a formal, multi-year deal. McLaurin outlined the details of the partnership, highlighting the sale of the White House Ornament in the Nationals team store, as well as in-game White House trivia quizzes in Nationals Park.
But McLaurin pointed to a new joint educational program as “the most exciting thing about the partnership.” He said, “Our education team will be going with the Nationals to every high school in the district, starting in the fall.” After these visits, participating high schools will have the opportunity to film short videos based on the presentation. The videos will compete against one another, with the five winning videos to be shown in Nationals Park next spring.
It is this theme of education to which McLaurin points with enthusiasm. He sees the alliance between the worlds of sports and history as “a great educational opportunity… in this wonderful family setting of a baseball stadium in the summertime.”
McLaurin hopes the appearance of the cartoon Coolidge will introduce the real historical figure to a crowd that may not be as familiar with him as they are with those of his fellow bobble head racers.
When Coolidge’s name was called on Friday night, there were certainly more than a few fathers who typed in the president’s name on Google before they told their foam finger-toting son about his time in office.
Known as Silent Cal, President Coolidge was a man of economy in both words and spending. His conservative agenda brought tax cuts and a smaller federal budget during the unparalleled growth of the Roaring Twenties.
As for his sprinting ability, Coolidge was no disappointment. After a slow start, he barreled past Abraham Lincoln and overtook Teddy Roosevelt at the finish line for his first ever victory. Like most political races, the outcome was clearly scripted by behind-the-scenes spending. But I’m not one to complain about a Republican presidential victory.
Will Brewbaker is an intern at The Weekly Standard.