Hidden Joys Of Baseballs Mascots

By: Jim Brown

When you go to a major-league baseball game you expect to see famous players with big names like Rafael Palmiero or Barry Bonds. What you are also going to see are much bigger players with funny names like Fredbird The RedBird, Junction Jack, and Screech.

While these characters are not the ones most fans came to see, they are important part of making baseball family-oriented fun and visually pleasing sporting event. Mascots have been used since the beginning of the sports and at one time were real animals. These animals help to create a sense of identity and pride in the home team. Although their main purpose is fun, there is a serious side to putting on the costume.

Going to school

Being a professional mascot isn't as easy as putting on a costume and running onto the field. There are actually training schools and seminars mascots have to take in order to be a part of the profession. One part of the profession involves being trained in either gymnastics or acrobatics in order to do the pratfalls and wonders that mascots can do.

They also need to take specialized training in the rules of the sport at which they are performing to make sure they don't violate any boundaries or interfere with play in any way. Mascots learn tricks, songs and ways to keep the audience interactive and happy. Many mascots get training through high school and college before they enter the professional arena. Some even start at minor-league games and are called up to the big leagues, just like baseball players. Mascots are the new vaudeville for our age.

A dangerous job

Any professional mascot will tell you doing pratfalls is not without pitfalls. There are dangers that can happen. The most common problem is severe dehydration from wearing a 20 to 30 pound costume in heat, humidity and for long periods of time. Mascots must take frequent breaks and continue to hydrate themselves in order to keep their physical health at a maximum.

Other dangers include angry or drunk fans, who sometimes push, kick or throw things at the mascot. Because baseball is a sport played with both endorphin and emotion sometimes even the athletes themselves can take out their frustration or anger on a mascot. It is against major-league baseball's rules and can result in severe fines for anyone caught doing it. However mascots always need to be aware to keep their wits about them and be aware of their surroundings.

The rewards

People who choose to be professional mascots will tell you that even though it is physically hard and sometimes scary, there are great rewards along with the job. People like them better than clowns, and they get to make families and children laugh and smile. They also get to be a part of the sport they love. For people who didn't have the physical power or skill to actually be involved in the sport, being a mascot helps them be part of the team and part of the franchise. It's a fun way to make a living and satisfying to know you've given others a smile as your own dreams come true.

The next time you go to a major-league game don't just pay attention to the runs, hits and errors. Be sure to give a little love to the hard working mascot too.

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