For mascots, there’s no escaping the spotlight. These mute yet endlessly expressive characters are the center of attention everywhere they go, and as a result they always need to be “on.” Pictures are requested, high fives demanded, and antics expected. It’s an exhilarating existence, to be sure, but not at all conducive to moments of quiet reflection and self-analysis.
Yet such moments, while rare, do occur. To capture them on camera is an exhilarating feeling, akin to a landlocked bird watcher getting an glimpse of the elusive Red Phalarope. This is how I felt during a June trip to Lake County, when I was able to capture Captains mascot Skipper in a moment of introspection.
Feeling inspired by this rare bit of photographic luck, I asked readers to please send in introspective mascot photos of their own. This request was met with an enthusiastic response, and the results are contained in this post.
What follows is the most impressive collection of introspective mascot photos that the world has ever seen.
The above individual is Louie of the Great Lakes Loons, whose powers of introspection are far greater than the average bird. Soon after abandoning his dugout perch, he went into the stands and got the fans to join him in a moment of quiet contemplation.
Another city boasting thoughtful birds amongst its citizenry is Toledo. Muddy the Mud Hen is a voracious reader, and can sometimes be spotted at the local library with his beak buried in a good book.
Muddy’s literary endeavors have increased his powers of imagination. Back at the ballpark, he sometimes gets lost in thought while resting his left arm on a railing that doesn’t even exist.
As evidenced by the picture of Skipper at the top of this post, ballpark tunnels represent a good place for a mascot to temporarily escape from the madding crowd. Here’s Phinley of the Clearwater Threshers, patriotically pontificating.
Meanwhile, in Winston-Salem, Bolt takes a moment to reflect before instigating some between-inning hula-baloo.
They say lightning doesn’t strike twice, but I was able to get a shot of Bolt during my visit to Winston-Salem this past July. This one is perhaps less “introspective” than “fatigued.”
While in Winston-Salem, I spent time with not one but TWO blog readers who went on to email me introspective mascot photos. Matt “Possum” Campbell solicited this shot of the Danville Braves’ “Blooper,” who does his best thinking with left hand planted firmly on stomach.
Meanwhile, veteran Minor League wanderer Rex Doane sent in pictures from various far-flung locales. Our journey with Rex begins in Norfolk, where Rip Tide sometimes assumes a near-beatific demeanor.
Then we fly over to flyover country, with this behind-the-back view of Swoop of the South Bend Silver Hawks.
And, finally, we arrive in the modest environs of the Modesto Nuts’ dugout. That’s where Al Almond sometimes goes in order to escape from the nuttiness surrounding him.
Another thoughtful dugout denizen is Fort Wayne’s Johnny TinCap, whose demeanor is never crotchety even if his hobbies sometimes are.
Of course, one doesn’t need to be solitary to be introspective. Over the three seasons that the team has been in existence, Chopper of the Gwinnett Braves has established himself as one of the most empathetic woodchucks in the Minors. Here he is having an on-field heart-to-heart.
Chopper’s upright demeanor is in stark contrast to Millie of the Lowell Spinners. On the last day of the season, this canal-dwelling alligator went deep into her own headspace while sitting on a stadium bench.
Allie’s daughter, Millie, simply curled up in the fetal position in order to think long and hard about the season that had just transpired.
With this concept on the verge of collapse, it seems that I’ll have to call it a day. Of course, keeping sending those introspective mascot photos in. I am totally amenable to there being a second, third, fourth, and even fifth installment of this series.
There will be no sixth installment.
American Legion Post 325 Field at Dan Daniel Memorial Park might have an unwieldy name, but it’s a pretty unassuming place to watch a ballgame.
The city-owned facility is home to the Appy League’s Danville Braves, but as the name would imply it also hosts an array of local youth teams as well. And while the structure itself is modest, the area surrounding it is impressive. “Legion Field”, as it is commonly called, is located within the sprawling 170-acre confines of Dan Daniel Memorial Park.
The park is also home to a gleaming, thoughtfully-constructed Veteran’s Memorial, paying tribute to local war casualties from the Revolutionary War to Iraq and Afghanistan.
I had assumed going into the evening that the town of Danville was named after Dan Daniel, whoever he may be. But this assumption, like so many before it, turned out to be erroneous.
The town of Danville is named for the Dan River, which itself had been named by an 18th-century settler. Dan Daniel, meanwhile, was a longtime Democratic Congressman who died in office in 1989 at the age of 73.
As the plaque notes, Daniel’s “fiscal conservatism was exceeded only by his liberal love of family and nation.” And — look! — his real first name is “W.C.” They could have called the place “W.C. Fields.”
Back within the confines of the stadium, I did my usual round of player interviews and then took in the pre-game scene.
As game time approached, I was caught unawares by the announcement that “Santa Claus” would be throwing out the first pitch. I then did the best I could to document this rare offseason appearance. It wasn’t even “Christmas in July” night. He was just…there.
In the above shot, note that there are a lot of children hanging out in the home dugout. Most of them are the players, many of whom are still in their teens. The rest were there as part of a birthday party for the daughter of D-Braves GM David Cross (I’ll never be able to type that name without thinking of my college-era obsession with Mr. Show).
First pitches, as they often do, gave way to the National Anthem.
And wouldn’t you know it? After the National Anthem the game began.
I spent most of the evening watching from the third and first base bleachers, as the covered grandstand area was obscured by a net that stretched halfway down each base line.
But the view from the first row was nonetheless pretty good.
One key advantage of sitting in the grandstand was that the seats weren’t wet — as was often the case on this road trip, the weather was a bit on the precipitous side.
But why I am sitting here writing about sitting? It’s time’s to sit here and write about wandering. This mural is one of the first things one sees upon entering the park.
It’s very well done, but I liked this bit of ballpark artwork even better.
I can’t help but make a note of this prominent bit of misspelled signage.
Speaking of misspelled signage, I am continually amazed that this Chik-Fil-A advertising campaign was greenlit — desperate members of a species targeted for mass slaughter trying to appease their carnivorous overlords by advocating for the mass slaughter of a different species.
Dystopian sci-fi hasn’t got a thing on Chik-Fil-A.
And on the topic of discriminate animal consumption — let’s check out the D-Braves concessions.
The team proudly serves Kunzler hot dogs. Is it just me, or are there subliminal images embedded within this logo?
But it’s my policy to always order the most unique thing on the menu — in this case the bologna burger. And this led to a problem — I had no money on me. Usually this is rectified by a quick trip to the ATM, but in this case it was rectified by a not-so quick trip to the ATM.
20 minutes, several wrong turns and two out-of-order ATM machines later, I finally found a working cash dispensary and then hightailed it back to the park. The lesson here is that while the Appy League may be cheap, always bring enough cash for all your ticketing/concession/”souvenier”/50-50 raffle needs.
Finally, it was time for the bologna burger.
It’s topped with onions, peppers, and mustard, a combination recommended by the guy working the grill (“That’s how they make ’em down at the racetrack,” he told me).
It tasted fine, but suffered in comparison to my closest reference point: the pork roll sandwich. (This is a New Jersey specialty, and now that’s it on my mind I’ll go on the record and say that a pork roll sandwich with Chickie and Pete’s Crab Fries and a Yuengling is my favorite concession combination in the Minors. Here’s to you, Trenton Thunder.)
But in this particular narrative I’m in Danville and still hungry. While the nachos were standard issue, I appreciated the fact that they were served like this (with a bag of tortilla chips on the side).
It might look sloppy, but layering the bottom of the tray rectifies the all-too-common problem of not enough cheese (writes a single 32-year-old man blogging about nachos on a Friday evening).
But these are nacho problems, they’re mine. So let’s return to the ballgame.
The between-inning activities were fairly minimal, as one would expect. There was a Pony Hop Race (those things are everywhere these days) and a dizzy bat race among other things, but for the most part it was little more than a PA announcement related to sponsorship or an ongoing game program bingo contest. At one point “The Chicken Dance” was played, with no accompanying announcement that it was the Chicken Dance or that people should, in fact, dance. I appreciated this.
Blooper the mascot made the rounds throughout the evening, but my attempts to take an interesting picture of him continually proved fruitless.
But this shot of the Danville sunset turned out pretty well, I think.
Also turning out well was the game itself, with the D-Braves coasting to a 7-3 victory over Pulaski.
There is ample opportunity to interact with coaches and players outside of the home clubhouse after the game.
But what excited me the most was that I finally got a nice shot of Blooper.
I’m going to add this one to my ever-growing “Introspective Mascot” file folder. If you’ve got some of your own to send along, you know where to find me.