I could Never be a Mascot!

 

Renegade’s Note:

I know I have been a bit intense the last few posts, so I am going to venture into my light-hearted side today and see if I can bring some joy and smiles back into my blog today. I look forward to the next few days to write about some more positive adventures that hopefully will be a relief to the muck and mud we are experiencing right now.

You see them every game doing unusual things and even driving those crazy motorized vehicles allover the field and you wonder to yourself, just how  hard a  job could  that be?, or that a trained monkey could do that job. And I admit it, I have wondered if I could do a better job, or might have a better dance routine or skit in me that I could perform in that furry costume.

Sure we all think, and some of us know we are funnier, more athletic, and certainly more friendly to kids than the people currently in those big, bulky suits.  But little do we know that according to a recent poll, that being a team mascot is one of the ten worst jobs in sports. And in baseball, most of your time is spent in the stands and not on the sidelines like during a football game. If you have a phobia with people, or touching, this will not work out for you, no matter how funny or personable you are in real life.

And we have all collectively wondered why this would be considered a hard job? Come on entertaining kids and frolicking around in a suit incognito would be fun. You can insult the opponents fans in the name of game humor, you can spray silly string into the mugs of sarcastic and beer-induced adults, and you even get paid for it. But before you go all gung-ho looking in your local paper or team website for a want ad seeking a mascot, you might want to consider a few things.

First off, I think you have to be pretty secure with being “yourself” to know you are not going to do anything to ruin the illusion of your  team’s character.  That might include something as simple as not speaking at all while you are in a costume. Seriously, even if the guy in the third row gives you a perfect line and you have the perfect response, you have to grin and bear it, or in this case, non-verbally get him back maybe with that silly string. Ahhh, got to love props! 

And that in its own rights might be an art form. I know that might be a  really hard thing for me to digest at certain times.  I see the Rays mascot Raymond doing head nods and hand gestures like he is chatting with the crowd, but in reality is is just motions and no sound.  You also see Raymond doing weird and wild dance routines and crowd inducing skits to get the crowd into the game not thinkig of the time it takes to master those simple movements in that furry suit.

And just like you, I would think I could do a lot of things better, faster and with more personality than the current occupant of the furry wondersuit. But there are a some really big hazards to worry about before you hit the sunlight and cheers of the fans. If you have even the smallest hints of claustrophobia, you will be in really big trouble. You can be in that suit pretty much for most of the game, or maybe only 15 to 20 minutes at a time with people all around you calling your name and you have a tunnelvision view of the world. Voices seem to come from everywhere and you might not even hear the small voice of a child just underneath you at times.

Plus people forget that since you are enclosed in a huge furry suit, your body heat will accumulate and build up and you will end up with sweat on sweat before the night is over.  So dehydration will be a constant enemy of yours, and you will have to fight it again and again  even at nighttime. And those game days in Texas must be murder on your body considering it might be 100 degrees outside, but maybe approaching 150+ in that costume for just a few minutes jaunt in the stands.

 Plus, if you are like me and not a huge “touchy feely” person, the constant barrage of fingers and hands pulling you and touching parts of your costume might freak you out a bit during your job. And kids do not know that you are getting tugged from both directions at the same time. And with your tunnel vision, sometimes you might turn away from a small child wanting a hug or a autograph from you. And you do not want to upset your littliest fans, for they go tell mom and dad, then you have bigger problems.

And  all of this is just a small sliver of what is your job. You might think it is just a fun fest with fur, but with all the joy and the happiness you can bring to the crowd, you are always just a step away from maybe even getting hurt yourself. I remember Raymond, the Rays mascot a few years ago was in rightfield getting the crowd into the game and Raymond stepped onto the top rail to get above the crowd. Raymond slipped and fell 12 feet to the turf and hurt himself badly, but he never went out of character as Raymond sprinted towards the sidelines and his waiting handler.

And other people, including the baseball players do not always take into consideration that you are there for fun and games. Some take you taunts and mannerisms to heart and get offended. None really try to hurt you, but you do not need the odd baseball smacking you in the costume headpiece because you upset a team’s shortstop. It is a huge give and take job with everyone outside the costume. And some people get with the program, and others lose their sense of humor in a flash.

But it might be a reality of the job that on any given night no matter what you do, someone will be upset with you that night. You might not have seen the cute little girl tugging on your costume and barreled over her by accident. Or you might have someone wanting a picture, but you are in an area that any picture taking will block the field view of fans, and they do remind you that you are blocking their view of the pitch 250 feet away. Or something as simple as a popcorn prank could backfire and you get a fan complaint to the front office.

And all of this is done for what, the money? Only a small handful of mascots get paid really great money. Most do it more for the rush they get when the crowd follows their lead, or even shows some affection towards their costumed persona. And some mascots really have to change themselves and their “game time”  personalities during their time in costume. And the costume can be its own drug, with a rush of adrenaline and a need for the attention even after you take the sweaty, musty costume off for the day/night.

But most of all, you have to remember that most people can not even know who you are, or what it is you do for the team.  You might walk around the stadium with that “All Access” badge, and  some will question why you have tht right and they do notno one will every know why you get such treasured rewards. You have to stay unknown to the fan base. You can not do interviews in costume because your character doesn’t speak in real life. It can be a hard adjustment to make, and few people can pull it off without a hitch.  It is a busy and silent world within a hectic, frantic world that can not tolerate any slight deviation from the plan.

It is a job we all think we can do better, faster and with more excitement. But the reality is that we have no idea how we would even begin such a journey. I know it is a job I  personally could not do because of some of the physical requirements now. I know the touching from behind by tons of kids and fans would drive me personally nuts, and tasting my own sweat while working is no longer in my job description.

So if you are a Major League mascot and I come up and I shake your hand, it is not for a photo op, but because you do a job I know I can not do in real life. You do your duties under circumstances and conditions that would totally freak me out. But most of all it is a simple handshake to tell you I understand a bit more now of what you do for a living, and the care and preparation you go through to do just a 5 minute bit in front of the crowd. So if  you really think you can do it……..Go for it!  Myself, I am happy in my corner front row seat watching the mascot do his magic and wondering what they are going to do next.

21 Comments

excellent post…. it has to be the hardest job in baseball and probably the hardest sport for a mascot…I love watchin what the mascots do, there’s just some I don’t like, i.e. the Marlins and the Mets, they are kind of stupid…..and I think Raymond could take Wally any day…:-)
~peter
Outside the Phillies Looking In
http://devilabrit.mlblogs.com

It takes a special kind of person to do that. On the up side to all the bad things that could happen to the kids – the good ones will last a life time. My little one still tell everyone about Ace come up and patting her on the head and hugging her.
Ginny
http://watercooler.mlblogs.com

It is SO hard inside those costumes! I was Clifford the Big Red Dog at an evening event when my boys were in elementary school. It was SOOOOO hot inside the costume! But the reward of the little kids giving you hugs and pictures and kisses made it all worth while!

Julia
http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com

I think being a mascot really is a lot harder than people think. I especially like your last paragraph- “So if you are a Major League mascot and I come up and I shake your hand, it is not for a photo op, but because you do a job I know I can not do in real life. You do your duties under circumstances and conditions that would totally freak me out. But most of all it is a simple handshake to tell you I understand a bit more now of what you do for a living, and the care and preparation you go through to do just a 5 minute bit in front of the crowd.”
I agree with you fully here. This is a very nice tribute to any mascot.
I also really like the videos… very funny, Wally and Raymond ganging up on the Yankees!

http://the3rs.mlblogs.com/

Peter,
You have the Dean of all mascots, the Phanatic.
I have to say over the years, it is him and the San Deigo Chicken that have made it a career for so many people.
And between innings they can make some of the hurt of a failed rally or a implosion by the Bullpen feel better.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

ginny,
You know Ace has that menacing look on his costume head, but the guy inside that get up is really good.
When he used to come to the Trop., he would get in a dance-off with Raymond and he was always stuck with a Frank Sinatra song, but he did a great job.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Julia,
I did three weeks as a skating Santa Claus at a local mall. I was on the speed skating team and dia little dancing on skates ala the disco era, and they recruited me from my rink.
I once almost took the beard and the cap off before I got back into the storeroom located just beyond my little igloo.
A little girl had run after me and tugged on my pants right before I took the beard off.
It would have killed me inside if I had turned to her with no beard or cap on………..but turned out great and she left with a few candy canes.
the mall has been torn down and replaced with a strip mall, but that memory of the job did not……….Clifford huh?

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Fenway,
I did the Wally and Raymond video for that small group of AL East fans who cruise by this blog.
I have been in their places before in life, but not entertaining besides a few loops and twirls for the crowd.
Got my story and name in the old St Pete Times for it, but that was not the reason I loved the job.
A smile on a kid’s face beats a bad game or day anytime.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

I think the only time i would want to be a mascot is in the winter..lol NOT in the 80 to Upper 90 degree weather:P
http://clevelandbaseball.mlblogs.com/

Cleveland,
I know Slider your mascot once broke something, his leg maybe during a game and had to be helped from the field.
The heat would kill me too, and I am used to Florida summers.
But another thing we do not worry about, but must be a pain in the…… for a mascot……………RAIN.
Those suits would gain so much top heavy weight from wet fur it would be nuts to even walk around a stadium.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

I think I would rather be in one of those costumes at Disneyland, the happiest place on earth.
The Dodgers don’t have a mascot, maybe because the weather is warm mosst of baseball season.
http://catlovesthedodgers.mlblogs.com

Cat,
You know something, with all the celbrities and the show business people in LA…………they are your mascots.
Seriously, I wondered about that myself.
Maybe in the next 10 yeasr they can find an icon to make a mascot……………those hills have a huge amount of coyotes………just kidding.
We will find you something…maybe

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

It would be hot in the mascot costume! Dang it is already hot in Florida the humidity factor would be huge!
http://tribewithted.mlblogs.com/

Had a chance to talk with Tom, the real Phanatic, several times and can tell you he is almost just as silly out of the costume (although he still swears there is NO costume ;O). He is a real special guy to do what he does. I told him when he retires, he should teach kindergarten :O)

Jenn
http://philliesphollowers.mlblogs.com/

Tribe Ted,

I really admire how Billy the Marlin can do his routines in that sweatbox down in Landshark Stadium.
There is never a huge cool breeze, and it always seems like the sun is beating down on you.
I guess it could be worse, could be the Teaxas Rangers mascot, Captain during a 100 degree day.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Jenn,
I used to see Kelly out and about after games too and people would freak a bit when they found out Raymond was a female.
But she could hold her own, and she was a true profressional inside the costume. There are even a few moves that are missing now with the new guy in the cotume that people noticed the first few games.
But change has to happen, and we can not do anything about it.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Great videos. I just don’t understand why the mascots had to beat up a Yankee fan. How bout an Orioles Fan or a Blue Jays fan. O yeah I forgot. The reason is because the Yankees are the best team in the division.
-Dillon
http://dillonm.mlblogs.com

Dillon,
More to the effect, the Yankee fans are one of the two most vocal to come to the Trop.
And since Wally was there, we had to omit a Red Sox fan.
But it is still funny.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

For me the happiest place on earth is Dodger Stadium. Forget the other place. i’ll take our magic kingdom OLOCR (Our Lady of Chavez Ravine). that is where I am looking forward to returning tonight for the homestand. As far as mascotts, I admire them and it would fun to do it once.
Emma
http://crzblue.mlblogs.com/

Cliff – I took the liberty of showing my other half the antics of Raymond in the videos. He wants to try the air horn at work. I also showed him the Phanatic and a couple others.
They were great. I think he likes the mascots more than the game though… :(
Ginny

Ginny,
I am not sure if the air horn trick would work in most places of employment without a termination notice, but he knows his bosses better than me……….hopefully.
There are a lot of mascots from colleges to the pros to even the High School level who sweat, bleed and do it all for laughs and giggles.
Makes you wonder some times if you might be able to handle all the madness from within a confined costume.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

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