Imagine being in a huge crowd of people clamoring for your attention, with a bunch of them hurling insults at you. Now imagine doing that with a giant fuzzy baseball on your head while sweating your butt off in a costume.
That’s more or less the life of a Major League Baseball mascot, according to ESPN staff writer AJ Mass.
In response to the New York Mets firing Mr. Met for giving a fan the finger, Mass, who used to be Mr. Met himself, detailed Thursday what it’s really like to be out in the stands during a ballgame, and it doesn’t sound fun.
“I’ve had beers poured on me,” Mass wrote. “I’ve had drunken fans attack me from behind in an attempt to knock me to the ground. And yes, when the Mets were losing big — which happened quite a bit during my tenure in the suit, from 1994 to 1997 — I was on the receiving end of many four-letter words that weren’t ‘M-E-T-S.’ ”
Mass said that while he always remained professional, he encountered plenty of situations where he was tempted not to be. And he can see why the recently fired Mr. Met snapped Wednesday night after the struggling team’s loss to the Milwaukee Brewers.
“As I detailed in my book, ‘Yes, It’s Hot in Here,’ people can forget there’s an actual Mr. (or Ms.) inside the Mr. Met costume,” Mass wrote. “Some fans treat mascots as if they’re less than human. Inside the suit, you’re tired, drenched in sweat and in physical pain from carrying the weight of the costume on your shoulders. It’s understandable why someone might snap, even for just a moment. It could happen to the most experienced performer, never mind someone thrust into the job at a moment’s notice.”
People don’t think about certain parts of the job. Mass said he had a personal policy of never holding babies on the off chance that someone tried to knock him over at the same moment. But at the end of the day, Mass believes it’s most important that teams are thorough in their hiring process, making sure incidents like Wednesday’s can be avoided.
Thumbnail photo via Jeff Curry/USA TODAY Sports Images