Happy Birthday Marty! My Mascot History

With today being Marty the Marauder’s birthday I thought I would take some time to reminisce the world of mascoting.  DISCLAIMER:  If you think mascots are real stop reading.  I promise Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny are in fact real but my mascot history will be unmasked below.

So here’s how it goes.  When I was in high school I worked for a baseball team in New Jersey called the Somerset Patriots.  They had a dog mascot at the time, still do, but they’ve since added a cat…to which I’m allergic.  But in high school I of course was looking for a little extra spending cash for, you know, all the dates I went on, and thought maybe stepping inside a mascot suit would be fun.  So I auditioned to be SPARKEE.  He’s named for Sparky Lyle, the team’s longtime manager and former member of the Bronx Zoo.  Low and behold, I got the gig to be SPARKEE out at community appearances. 

Now a couple of things right off the bat.  Mascot suits are hot.  Mascot suits can smell.  The Patriots actually have several SPARKEE suits that get washed I believe after every wear, so it wasn’t nearly as bad, BUT…the heads don’t get washed.  They get Fabreezed.  I’ve had enough ‘linen sent’ for a lifetime.  Finally, mascot heads are heavy.

See SPARKEE had something of a lopsided head.  Being a dog, it had a snout in the front and the head always wanted to pull you forward.  This was difficult to combat. It was also hard because I have a small head and the helmet inside the mask was big.  I had to wrap by head in a beach towel so the thing wouldn’t fall off.  Always fun when the towel fell into my eyes and blinded the big furry friend.  What am I going to do to fix it?  Reach my furry paws inside my neck?  That’s like straight out of a Freddy Kruger movie.  You just had to kind of whip your head around a little bit and hope the towel moved.

One more thing about being a mascot…never tell somebody you’ve been a mascot.  It inevitably leads to you being a mascot somewhere else down the road.  One day when I worked at USF I told the marketing people I had previously been a mascot and if they were ever in a pinch I could fill in.  The next morning my phone rang.  The Associate Athletic Director was in a pinch and I was Rocky the Bull.  That was actually a fun one though.  I delivered a cake to Bright House Networks and their studios.  Thank goodness I put the cake on the table before running down the hallway, tripping and sliding head first the rest of the way.  It was also fun because I went to the appearance in character.  What’s better than stopping at a traffic light, turning to your left and seeing a giant bull sitting in the passenger seat of the car next to you?

There are, of course, some brilliant mascot memories.  In no particular order:

1 – Being “Big Mo” – The Salem Avalanche (now Red Sox) had a mascot back in the day named Big Mo.  He was an abominable snowman.  I was Big Mo for an afternoon back in 2008 at a Sheetz gas station.  I stood at the street corner with a sign that read “Game Tonight.”  I took some creative liberty and danced, walked out in traffic and then went into the convenience mart.  Once inside I messed with everybody.  I wagged my finger at the guy pursuing the adult magazines, angered the man who just wanted to get his coffee and then took some gummy worms to the register.  The lady rang me up.  I’m a mascot!  I don’t have any money!  I just turned out my pockets and walked away, without the worms of course.  We don’t need felonies on Big Mo’s rap sheet.

2 – SPARKEE’s Birthday – So back in Somerset SPARKEE’s birthday is always a big draw.  All the interns had to be mascots for the evening and I was Geoffrey the Giraffe from Toys ‘R’ Us.  This was my choice.  In hindsight it sucked.  Do you know how long a giraffe’s neck is in mascot form?  There was a fan inside though so that was sweet. But anyway let’s go back to the Patriots having multiple SPARKEE uniforms.  Each extra costume was worn that night as SPARKEE’s brother and sister and mother etc.  The role of his mother fell to our tallest intern Justin.  The suit did not fit him…but he wore it anyway.  The arms were tethered to his gloves by rubber bands and we hoped for the best.  And did we ever get it.  During the mascot race that night all of us are running down the right field line in a mob.  Justin falls.  His head, held on by the last bit of slack, falls off and tumbles feet away.  In front of the entire stadium, SPARKEE’s mother goes chasing her decapitated head.  Justin recovered and finished the race.  The moment, however, lives on in picture form.

3 – Blue’s Clues – We had a Blue’s night at the Patriots my intern year.  I was Blue the dog from the TV show.  It was awesome because I could talk.  You know, make the noises like Blue’s Clues.  Bah-bup!  Buh-Bap!  I think it’s spelled like that.  I made the newspaper with this picture too!

4 – Otto the Orange – So in college my roommate was Otto the Orange, the big lovable orange at Syracuse University.  This was cool because, well, I knew the fruit.  He would mess with our friends at games and one day during a broadcast picked up our extra headset and put it on his nose.  It made the play-by-play sound something like… “Harris to the near wing, passes to Michael….ruffle, ruffle, ruffle, ruffle, noise, noise, noise….and Otto the Orange has joined us tonight!”

What was really cool though was the night he brought Otto to our room.  I think it was a Friday.  No alcohol was involved.  We were just this ridiculous.  Well, Otto ran around the dorm that night.  Knocked on random doors to say hello and even went into the computer lab to do some homework.  It was a good time.  And now that we’re no longer in college we can’t get in trouble for saying that.

5 – When I interviewed the Famous Chicken.  Here – have a listen.

http://twaud.io/embed/r5mm

And by the way, mascoting is actually a very serious business.  It’s incredibly difficult to break into and even has its own Hall-of-Fame.  A lot of mascots have the gig as a full-time job.  An I’m probably banned from the profession for that pic of me not wearing a head.

Anyway…Happy Birthday Marty!  You big furry Pirate.

Till next time –

Joel

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About Joel Godett
Joel Godett is in his secod year broadcasting Bradenton Marauders baseball. His career has carried him from Syracuse to Buffalo, Roanoke, Cape Cod, Tampa and Bradenton. He is originally from New Jersey and somehow grew up an Atlanta Braves fan.

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