What would you give for a chance to be Sandy the Seagull for a day?
For me, the answer is about half a gallon of sweat.
That’s what I learned on Wednesday during Brooklyn Cyclones Mascot Tryouts at Keyspan Park.
I feel as though I lost about five pounds after an hour inside the costume/sauna that transformed me into Brooklyn’s favorite mascot.
And I was the lucky one. I think the Daily News’ Bill Farrell — who was in a hot dog getup — might have broke his hip.
Farrell and I took part in a challenge to see who would be picked as best mascot by a group of pre-Kindergarten children from Public School 236 on Avenue U in Mill Basin.
It was promised to be a contest between a number of members of the New York media to see who had what it takes to silently make a crowd come to life while dressed as a 7-foot-tall stuffed animal. Unfortunately, most didn’t show, probably scared off by my boast to Cyclones media rep Elizabeth Warshaw that I would not only win the contest, but I’d write the best story.
That left just the two of us and a bunch of photographers to be briefed by Cyclones promotions and entertainment manager Howie Wolpoff, who explained the ins-and-outs of professional mascoting.
“It’s is all about entertainment and interaction with the fans. You’re a visual representation of the team,” he said. “You’re the team’s non-speaking spokesperson.”
With that, we were asked to take a Cyclones Mascot Aptitude Test, the C-MAT of on-field clownery given to every perspective mascot. The seven-question, multiple-choice quiz checks your knowledge of mascots past, as well as your ability to handle the job. I passed with flying colors, knowing that the “godfather of all mascots” is the San Diego Chicken, and that, despite the temptation, one should never use the tarpaulin as a giant “slip and slide” during a rain delay, because it could ruin your costume.
The test behind us, it was time to suit up. I offered Farrell the opportunity to pick his costume first and, for some reason (maybe he was hungry?) he chose a hot dog. That allowed me to suit up in Sandy’s garb — which features white feathered gloves, boots, overalls, and a large, un-vented head — and insure my victory. I mean, what kid is going to pick a cheap sausage with eyes and a cape over a giant, fluffy seagull that likes to dance.
Once fully suited, I immediately passed my first real-time test. When asked if I was ready to go, I gave two thumbs (well, feathers) up — insuring I didn’t break the coveted “no talking” rule.
Then, something happened. As I walked through the tunnels of the stadium toward the field, something came over me. I don’t know if it was caused by the sounds of the kids cheerfully awaiting my appearance, or the fact that my head was already about 125 degrees. But while I made that walk, I became — in mind and body — Sandy the Seagull.
And as a seagull, my first inclination was to eat that giant hot dog walking in front of me. So I pecked away at Farrell’s bun. Mmmmmmm.
Once on the field, the sun on my beak, the kids cheered my arrival. I greeted them with high-feathers before the real competition began. We were asked to show some emotions — fear, anger and sleep — before we had to pull out all the stops with a dance. At first, the kids weren’t responding. Not even my famous “worm” could get them going.
That’s when I pulled my trump card, inviting a little girl to dance along with me. She played along and I received the biggest cheer.
But then came the obstacle course, where we had to run around the bases while weaving around cones and picking up hula-hoops. It looked difficult, especially with my head now reaching about 150 degrees.
And when Farrell crash landed into third base and was slow to get up, I got a little scared.
“Don’t lose your head,” said “Party” Marty Haber, the Cyclones’ human mascot cum emcee, meaning it quite literally. “I did once. The kids get really upset.”
But I didn’t. I rounded the bases with the showmanship of a a a true showman. I danced around the cones and did somersaults while picking up the hula-hoops. And when the dust settled, while dazed and out of breath, I was crowned best mascot.
“How does it feel?” Cyclones media relations head Dave Campanaro asked while we made our way off the field.
“Sandy’s having heart failure,” I huffed.
Inside, I undressed, covered in sweat and ready for a shower after just an hour in the suit, which was now filthy from my antics.
“I’m going to have a tough time cleaning that,” Wolpoff said, a bit upset with its condition.
“Huh. Promotions and entertainment managers. They don’t know what it takes to put on a show,” I thought to myself.
“But I do.”
May 8, 2004 issue
©2004 Community News Group
By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:
You agree that you, and not BrooklynPaper.com or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to BrooklynPaper.com the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.