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Nats Caravan Hits the Bowie Safeway

So the festivities were already underway by the time I reached the Bowie Town Center Safeway this afternoon. Manny Acta, Mike O'Connor and Nook Logan were signing autographs, passing out Nats visors, passing out WTWP chapstick, etc. They were positioned next to the Starbucks and in front of the Signature Soup bar (today's special: Broccoli and Cheesy Cheddar). It was festive.

But things got a lot more festive when Giant Abraham Lincoln showed up, pushing a shopping cart. Several children, who were positioned near Manny Acta, absolutely lost their minds.

"Hey you, you're big," 5-year-old Mary Beth Smith said.

"Hey, you have a big head," 4-year-old Brien Hill said.

"He has a big head," Mary Beth said.

"He has a big head," Brien agreed.

"He's shopping," Mary Beth said.

"He's shopping," Brien agreed.

"He's shopping for big heads," Mary Beth said.

Then they ran off behind Abraham Lincoln, tiny children of Hamelin to his massively-headed Presidential Pied Piper. Frankly, I ran off behind him too. I admit, I'm unnaturally attracted to the Giant Presidents. I think they're among the greatest things going in professional sports. That's why my heart skipped so many times when I read Stan Kasten's recent quotes in the Nats 320 blog about an increased role for the Presidents this season.

VP of Communications Chartese Burnett confirmed this to me yesterday. It's apparently important to note that the Giant Presidents are not mascots, per se; they are in-game entertainment personalities. But Burnett said the Presidents would now be appearing at more community functions, in more team promotions and during more in-game entertainment events. "I just know that you're going to be seeing a lot more of them," she said.

So I wondered how the ordinary Safeway shoppers of the world would treat one such President, which is why I tailed Giant Abe on his goodwill tour through the store. He stopped in the meat department.

"Yes, may I help you?" Hollis Phifer asked Giant Abe. "Is he on stilts?"

I asked Mr. Phifer if he knew who Giant Abe was with.

"Not Sarah," Mr. Phifer said.

When I told him it was the Nats, he approved. "We need something like that; everybody else has something," he said. "It would be nice to have something to put yourself in perspective."

Giant Abe stopped at the checkout lanes and helped some customers with their bags.

"You're a little overwhelming, dear," 72-year old Bea Quarles told Giant Abe as he bagged her groceries. "You want to double those, please?"

She didn't know who Giant Abe was with, either, nor had she recognized him as a former President, but when I explained who he was, she also approved. "He's something special, something different, and that's us," she said. "And at 72, whatever I say is good."

(Later, I was showing some store employees my photos of Abe with the groceries. They were impressed.

"Hey, he does the courtesy clerk job better than they do," Moses Herald said. "We need to hire him, for real.")

Before he left the checkout area, Giant Abe posed for photos with Nan O'Neill.

"Hey Abe, she voted for you," shouted out Nan's son-in-law, Dave Lanham.

"Oh no he didn't say that," a Safeway employee whispered.

(Of course, Dave had previously told me that his mother-in-law worked on Teddy Roosevelt's primary campaign, so this wasn't surprising to me. Dave, a Nats season ticket holder from year one, was a bit giddy about today's events; he had brought his son, 8-year-old Jack, who technically was at a "dentist appointment." Dave had stopped by the in-store Starbucks and spent a decent amount of time hanging out by the autograph table.

"I told Manny, now I can say I've had a cup of coffee with the Nats," Dave said, which I had to admit was a pretty good line.)

At some point Giant Abe also made it to the deli, where he met deli clerk Kristen Settles. Later, I asked Kristen if she knew who Giant Abe was with.

"Isn't it a bank?" she asked, but with some prodding she came up with the Nats. She had mixed feelings about Giant Abe.

"It was kind of scary, my co-worker ran away while I was making a sandwich," she said, but she actually liked him, all in all. Maybe I was hearing what I wanted to hear, but I was hearing that people liked that Giant shopper, despite the fact that we were in Safeway.

"Everybody has a bird, an animal, something like that," Dorian Wade said. "It's funnier, it's better, it's more original."

"I thought it was hilarious," Ganesh Persaud said.

"The first time they came out I said, 'This is a home run, an absolute grand slam,'" radio voice Dave Jageler said.

"What's his name, that always loses, Teddy?" said center fielder and Bog fave Nook Logan. "He's got to work out, go to a little speed camp. Tell him to come work out with me; we'll do some leg presses, some skips, some jump stops. Stop tanning in the sun, got to work out in the offseason."

"The Giant Presidents reflect what we have in the city, the nation's capital," partial ticket plan holder Ray Smith said. "I think it's a great idea; it's great entertainment."

Not that there weren't dissenting opinions.

"Screech is nicer, and he likes the Nationals more," Ray Smith's son, 9-year-old Raymond, said. "That guy's scary."

And, of course, there were suggestions for how to improve Giant Abe.

"Next time have him breakdance or something," Herald suggested.

"Or have him do the A-Town Stomp," Ericka Nicole Lynn Farrish said. "Tell him to do that."

And really, the day that Giant Abe takes the field at RFK and does the A-Town Stomp would be a wonderful day, indeed.

(Ericka Nicole Lynn Farrish hopes to be an actress, and requested I put her name in bold type.)

By Dan Steinberg  |  January 24, 2007; 3:42 PM ET
Categories:  Nats  
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Next: Manny Acta Gets a New Jacket


Do we get to see the Giant Abe pictures?

Posted by: Marc | January 24, 2007 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, can hold a candle to the Milwaukee Giant Sausages. The Presidents are to the Sausages like soy is to meat, hard lemonade to whiskey, or astroturf is to grass.

End of discussion.

Posted by: Ted | January 24, 2007 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Wow, Ted, I'm surprised. Why is that? I don't see one group of racing in-game entertainment personalities as being necessarily better than the other. In fact, I find the out-of-proportion-yet-finely-detailed Prez Heads every bit as pleasing as some sort of cartoon Brat. Is it just 'cuz the sausages were first? Is what's first always best?

Posted by: Dan Steinberg | January 24, 2007 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and there'll be a picture in the paper tomorrow, probably on the Bog at some point.

Posted by: Dan Steinberg | January 24, 2007 4:25 PM | Report abuse

So the giant sausages are the end-all, be-all of your existence?

It's not the most original idea, but come on, who does anything original any more? The Giant Presidents are pretty funny. And baseball needs as much fun as it can get. You've got to admit, it beats the standard t-shirt slingshot.

Posted by: Chest Rockwell | January 24, 2007 4:30 PM | Report abuse

why does T. Roosevelt always lose?

he started the bull moose party. that should be worth a few wins.

Posted by: pete | January 24, 2007 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Teddy has asthma. Thats why he loses the races. And the Presidents are better then the pierogies up at PNC.

Posted by: Marc | January 24, 2007 4:36 PM | Report abuse

i envision a cooperative promotion between milwaukee and washington. they could ship their leading sausage costume on down with their equipment manager when they visit. we will have races with it when the Brew Crew is in town. we will ship them up GW when we visit Milwaukee. let them trash our first president. raucous fun for all.

Posted by: pete | January 24, 2007 4:41 PM | Report abuse

I think Ted needs to see some sort of therapist about his sausage obsession.

Nice to see the Bowie Safeway brief thier employees of the day's events.

Posted by: Kim | January 24, 2007 5:00 PM | Report abuse

Oh man, you totally need to send me one of those photos of Abe bagging groceries! I could add it to my next vodcast showing that the proof is in - teh Lerners are so cheap that Abe had to get a 2nd job bagging groceries! Bahahaha!

Posted by: misschatter | January 24, 2007 7:16 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

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