Yesterday, Extra P brought us the story of Jacob Osterhout and his audition to be the mascot for the Brooklyn Cyclones. Jacob’s story made me laugh, yeah, but it also caused some seriously scary flashbacks.
As I’ve mentioned on here a time or ten, I used to work for a professional baseball team (I think this is the first time I’ve talked about it this season, so if you had May 7 in the “OMDQ brags about his past work experiences” pool, you win!). One of my responsibilities? Dressing up as Prime Time the Moose for appearances at local schools and community gatherings. Fortunately, I was never called upon to do it during a game, although I always sort of wanted to try. Still, it probably would have been a disaster – with small groups, I was decent; I couldn’t see myself as an entertainer of hundreds.
Still, Extra P asked for mascot stories, and I’ve got a couple, so I figured I’d share them here. I’m even sitting on the couch as I type, so it’s like therapy.
3) My worst mascot experience actually doesn’t involve me wearing the suit. In 2004, the Nashua Pride didn’t really have a set person in charge of promotions, so three front office people handled various aspects of the job. I generally put the game script together for the PA announcer (sometimes to great comic effect, as I’ve chronicled here before) and occasionally bossed the mascot around. Yes, I’m terrible at management.
Our primary mascot that year was a high school kid named John. He loved the gig, got really into it, did a great job. One day, however, I saw him sitting down on the stone wall that runs almost parallel to the field just past first base. This offended my delicate sensibilities regarding what a mascot should and should not do, and I told him so.
“Don’t sit down when you’re outside,” I ordered the next time I saw him. “If you need to sit and take a break, come into the office. It doesn’t look good for the mascot to be sitting down like that when he should be entertaining.” Sound advice, I thought. Unfortunately, it was about a million degrees, and he interpreted “Don’t sit down outside” as “Don’t take breaks ever,” which led to a call over the radio that he had stumbled into the umpire’s locker room, taken the head off, and passed out.
He was okay in the end, of course, but really, it was a terrible feeling and one of the main exhibits for why I should never be in charge of people.
2) In an effort to extend the Pride’s reach out to the Seacoast region, I signed Prime Time up to take part in Portsmouth’s holiday parade. It was actually my second parade in the region – I grew up in Rye, the town next door, and my parents still live there and know everybody, so they got me involved in that one (it took some time for my nephew Patrick to grasp that it was Uncle Brian inside that big hairy moose suit). For Portsmouth, I was joined by my brother Tim.
I realized something important that night: when you take cold December air and hot breath and combine them in an enclosed space, glasses will fog up. Within minutes, I was blind as a bat, truly A Moose On The Loose, with Tim doing his level best to point me in the right direction.
He couldn’t protect me from everything, however, and that’s why this experience made this post. I was walking along the street, waving to fans, maybe attempting the occasional high-five, when all of a sudden, “WHOOMP,” I felt something hit my midsection. No idea what it was until I was able to find Tim, who leaned in close and told me what had happened:
A little kid had broken free from the crowd, run out into the street, and attempted to give Prime Time a big hug. Not a problem ordinarily…except, of course, in this situation, Prime Time couldn’t see a damn thing. From what Tim told me, the kid hit me at full speed, bounced off, and was eventually corralled by his parents.
And then I finished the parade, changed behind a parked car, and got the hell out of there.
1) My best mascot story is also my first mascot story. I started working for the Pride on June 1, 2003. Somehow, I made it all the way to July before it became necessary for me to don the smelly, perpetually wet suit.
It was another parade, this one for the Fourth of July. It wasn’t in Nashua, but one of the surrounding towns, Hudson or Litchfield or Hollis. Someplace not too far away. My spotter was Andy, our assistant general manager. I figured it’d be a piece of cake. Wear the suit, dance around, shake some hands, entertain some kids. How hard could it be?
At the beginning, it wasn’t bad. I did all the aforementioned stuff, and I think I was okay. Then, my body started to realize that it was 95 degrees. Right around the time I actually started to melt, Andy leaned over and said, “Hey, we’re about halfway. I’m gonna go grab the car and meet you at the end.” And he left me there, to die all alone in the streets of Hudson or Litchfield or Hollis or wherever the hell we were.
What he neglected to mention, I think, was that he was getting out right in time (or maybe he did mention it. This was six years ago). The end of the parade route featured a hill. A very, very big hill that might as well have been Mount Washington at that point. It was horrible. I thought I was gonna have to crawl to the finish, which would not have been a positive memory for the local children to have of Prime Time.
Luckily I made it and changed in a dugout at the local Little League field, where Andy found me and gave me a bottle of water. I think I ate it rather than waste time with something silly like drinking. Then he took me home (after laying a towel on the front seat to soak up my sweat – I looked like Jason Giambi), leaving me to reflect on the situation and hope that it never happened again.
Little did I know that the day would come when our then-promotions manager would set an ambitious appearance schedule, figuring he could do as many as necessary, only to be laid off a month before the season, leading to me donning the mascot suit as many as three times in a single Saturday. I still can’t pet a wet dog without shuddering.