Gifted to me at home plate (in costume) at my
final game, the last of the 2003 season.
In the end, I performed as the character for three full seasons of home games (over 200), as well as at numerous public appearances. On the rare game days I could not work, or at appearances that were too unappealing, I was always concerned that the person filling my place would do a good job. Truth is, most people didn't know the difference. But, I did (and those who were season ticket holders or ballpark regulars, did, too). Nearly all characters have a built-in fan base and, short of knocking over young fans or using expletives, there was very little one could do to ameliorate that affection. I always sought to increase it through good performances, and working for (what was at the time) a team that did not play well on the field, this was a significant role with the team, or at least I'd tell myself that as motivation to perform well.
Original costume care direction that came with the
new suit I wore for all three seasons.
One such program I worked with was a business class, and one day after a particularly good lesson, the teacher, Frank, asked if I would be interested in earning some extra money. Frank then shared with me that after his own time in college as a volunteer mascot, he had been freelancing from time to time as a professional mascot with a local team. That team was looking for an actor to fill the role for the upcoming season. He had done quite a bit of appearance work for them but had tired of the day-to-day, game-to-game grind of mascoting and had been asked to think of anyone who might be interested. For whatever reason, it occurred to him that I might be good at it, so was gauging my interest.
Two days later, I picked up a large duffle bag at the organization's front desk. Inside the bag along with directions for care of the costume and suggestions for performer dressing, was an over-sized plastic mold head, foam torso with arms and a fur suit costume. I was directed to return two days later with a routine. This would be my try out--in costume--and as someone who had never really performed in front of anyone with the spotlight on them (not to mention dance and clown), I thought to myself, "What the hell are you thinking?"
To Be Continued...