If you ever have the opportunity to be a mascot, take it.
In the fall, I’ll be a senior at Pacific Lutheran University. I’m an assistant in the sports information office. Work is slow during the summer months. My bosses dangled extra hours above my head. I’m fairly money motivated, so the hours were tempting.
The only way I was going to make that money was by being Lance-A-Lute, the PLU mascot at the Triple A Home Run Derby at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma. I was leaning towards doing it. Once they told me I’d be ‘competing’ in a mascot home run derby, I was all in.
The competition was going to be stiff. Blitz from the Seattle Seahawks was on hand. Cool Bird from the Thunderbirds was there. Rhubarb of the Rainiers was kind enough to host us. These guys were professionals, and I most certainly am not.
Before the derby started, Blitz made a remark on his 704 appearances he was scheduled to make this year. That’s insane. He also looked like he spent as much time in the gym as he had on appearances. Dude was buff.
As I got closer to my debut as a mascot, I continued to remind myself that no one could see who I was. They didn’t even know who I was to begin with. It was going to be fun to pretend to be something I’m not.
Our first assignment of the night was to go ‘shag’ baseballs in the outfield during the first round. The moment we left the locker room in costume, Blitz became Blitz. He walked with bounce, energy and enthusiasm. He clapped his hands, nodded his head and waved at every fan he saw. It was awesome.
I stumbled out of the locker room, adjusting to the goofy shoes I had to wear. It’s tough to see the ground while in the suit, which is a problem. Little kids love mascots. I had no idea they were underneath me at first.
It didn’t get real until a little boy approached me a pen and a baseball. He wanted Lance-A-Lute to sign his baseball.
My mouth got dry as I nervously signed his ball. This kid had no clue who, or even what PLU is. It didn’t matter. He wanted autographs. He got them.
Shagging balls was an interesting experience. Professional baseball players were taking their best cuts while I stood with limited visibility in the possible path of the ball.
One ball was popped sky high. I followed the ball as it went up, but looked away. The ball dropped three inches to the left of me. I turned to some of the kids behind me and threw my hands out at them.
I was a little upset that no one had warned me that I was about to get drilled. Realistically, they probably would have told me heads up if they knew the name of the mascot costume I was in.
For the remainder of the first round, I spent my time getting out of the way of every ball I could. Blitz and Rhubarb were diving all over the field, attempting to make plays. There was no chance I was committing as much as they were.
The mascot home run derby happened just before the finals. It was explained that we would hit tennis balls off a tee from behind the pitchers mound. It was ruled a home run if the ball cleared the dirt on the infield.
Blitz was upset that we weren’t hitting from home plate. He went on to show video of how he hit legitimate homer at Safeco Field during Richard Sherman’s charity softball game.
I beat Blitz.
Blitz led off, trying crush tennis balls. It didn’t go well for him. I went second, taking a more relaxed approach to the plate. I did well and it felt good. I bat flipped after my round, because why not.
By the time our appearance was over, I was walking with a little bit of bounce. I got used to seeing the tops of little kids heads and waving in their direction. I had adjusted to the roll I was playing.
Before Monday night, I was weary of wearing the mascot suit. When Monday was done, I was thankful for the opportunity to do it. Technically, I competed at a Triple A home run derby. It was a fun night.