|Hanging with the indoor lax team's old mascot Lax-calibur during |
one of the many Mascot Kickball games that would be held prior to
home games. I think my parents had brought the kids and took some pics.
|Fan picture from 2002.|
Unlike the way I envision my post-teaching days, however, I do return to my prior place of employ from time to time: I love going to the ball park to experience the Americana of minor league baseball. For a few years after I left the team, when I did make it to the stadium for a game, some of the ushers and team employees with whom I interacted regularly would exchange pleasantries with me. But, time soldiers on. Eventually, I was happy to once again be an anonymous fan in the stands, albeit one with a little more insight as to what goes on behind the curtain of the day-to-day entertainment side of minor league baseball.
|The bobble-head of the character I |
played for 3 seasons. I think this
was released in summer 2002, my second
season. I remember that night at the park
was very well-attended, and I
signed oodles of the white boxes
in which they were packaged.
Most of what I do have is thanks primarily to kind stadium ushers or team staff who worked the games and would acquire things for my kids, at the time, semi-regulars at home games. They even were lucky enough to get out on the field to change the bases during the seventh inning stretch a few times. The baseball organization was beyond wonderful at allowing my kids to be a small part of the work I did for them at games.
|Cards I posed for (and would often give out at|
appearances) during my tenure.
The "relationships" those who portray mascots for extensive periods of time (no disrespect intended to the interns who participate in the time honored experience of slipping into the fur suit out of necessity) one develops with fans despite brief, mute interactions can be powerful. After a while, season ticket holders become attuned to those movements and signature moves (thumbs up, pratfalls, etc.) that become associated with you and your interpretation of the character to the point that they know when it's you, or when it wasn't you the previous game. Among my fondest memories are quiet moments of acknowledgement from the team's fans I met along the way. Many children would come to the park with personal drawings or notes for the character which I would occasionally hang in my locker during the season for inspiration.
After sharing with the team brass that I would be stepping down at the conclusion of the 2003 season, I was honored to receive (in costume as the character, of course) the plaque to the right during the team's end-of-year awards. Given out at home plate prior to the final home game of the season, it was just the last of many kindnesses afforded me from an exemplary organization during my years of service.
Now that my own kids are much older and have less interest in mascots and the like, nearly all of the related collectibles have migrated to the attic with other memories. The three summers from 2001-2003 I spent at the ballpark performing at nearly every home game (I was told I had a remarkable attendance record--I hated to disappoint fans that came to expect me) now seem many worlds away.
|Last home game of the 2002(?) season with fan favorite Howie Clark. Notice how |
far digital photography has come! Not sure where Howie is now
(I think he was briefly with the Blue Jays after leaving the Red Wings, but he was
one heck of a nice guy.
Minor League Mascot Memories, Part 1