Throughout games, mascots entertain the crowd, dancing atop the dugout, bazookaing T-shirts toward the press box, racing children around the bases between innings, and tossing buckets of confetti on box-seat fans. Several ballparks feature an autograph inning when the mascot, always beating with the heart of a clown, sits at a table in a designated area. So it shouldn’t be surprising that one of the game promotions for the Bowie Baysox featured the birthday bash for their mascot Bowie Louie. Like other mascots, the name of Bowie’s creature relates to the identity of the team or the character of the region. In this case, Bowie Louie’s “handle” reveals his comic spirit by playing with the title of the rock hit “Louie Louie” that became a homerun in the 1960s after The Kingsmen recorded the Richard Berry tune.
Like the twist of the song’s title to name the Baysox' mascot, the shape, color, and size of Bowie Louie also appear to be a mongrel of various kid-luring creatures: the fuzziness of Cookie Monster, the color of Oscar the Grouch, the dorky eyes of Snuffleupagus, the feet with sneakers too large for Shaq—all with an added pink, cranial tuft that must have come from DNA shared with My Pretty Pony.
|Louie with his birthday partyers|
Whatever the name, appearance, and character of Bowie Louie might have been, I was fortunate to sing on the night of his birthday party, which meant that several mascots from teams, universities, and corporations attended his party: “Sherman the Shorebird” from the Baysox’ Eastern League rival in Delmarva; the iconic and ironic buffoons from Bowie State (the Bulldog) and Towson State (the Tiger) universities; and among several corporate mascots, “Peeps,” the chick from the maker of the namesake marshmallow candy, and “Wally Goose,” from Wawa stores, a convenience store featuring several fresh foods.
Also invited to the park that night were clowns, to lead the singing of “Happy Birthday” following the third inning, and several different animals, including an impressive iguana, whose exhibition required clearance by the county’s animal control officers. Yet the animal agents weren’t the least bit concerned about the unusual breed of Louie, nor the animal versions of the clowns.
|The iguana and clowns prepare to serenade Louie.|
When I inquired about Louie’s birth certificate and its accuracy (we were, of course, within a homerun call from the White House, where birth certification was still a topic for some who continued to challenge Obama’s presidential eligibility), I was assured that June 24 might as well be his birthday as any. I then paused before asking whose progeny Louie might be.As congenial a mascot as Louie was and as festive as the evening became with other mascots, clowns, and animals providing entertainment, I most appreciated the welcome to Prince George County Stadium (where parking was free for all!) by the sculpture of a man sharing baseball with a young girl: they modeled the transfer of baseball love and lore from parent and player to child, an inter-gender, inter-generation image. Sporting his uniform, stepping with cleats, and squeezing a ball for a split-fingered pitch, the father leads her by her throwing hand. Twisting her head slightly toward her father, the girl wears a smile almost bigger than the glove on her left hand, tilted expectantly. Standing tall, they peer together toward possibilities of baseball. They move together, together through baseball.
|Father and daughter welcome fans to the ballpark.|
|Perhaps inspired the statue, a father teaches his daughter to hit.|
While the entry to Bowie’s ballpark was distinct, its pregame activities and ceremonies corresponded to those at many other ballparks. Music blared over the sound system during the teams’ warm-ups and the fans’ arrival, and children thronged to the field to perform particular exercises. This evening, a group of Tae Kwan Do junior Olympian contestants practiced their martial arts behind home plate, and they were followed by dozens of Boy Scout troops who paraded through the outfield. Amid such noisy clamor, I frequently found it challenging to maintain focus for the start of the anthem.
|The parade pauses to pose in the "scoutfield."|
Tonight proved no different regarding commotions and distractions, but it did provide a new accent in another respect. While my name or image typically would appear on the scoreboard during my introduction, here for the first time game program included my name as the national anthem performer.
Not known for his speed, Satin is often teased by teammates about shrinking triples into doubles.
So in the seventh inning he stepped into the batter’s box, he stood a triple shy of the cycle, an unlikely achievement since he is slow footed. Of his thirty extra-base hits in this season before this at-bat, only one had been a triple. Although on several occasions in previous seasons he had encountered a similar situation of needing only a triple to complete a cycle, he had not been in this position in a ballpark where the ball often careens off the outfield fence at an oblique angle. He lined a ball to the left-field corner and as the ball hit the wall, it caromed oddly past the Baysox fielder. Immediately, Satin shifted into overdrive and legged the hit into a triple. His cycle was complete, but not his night: In the ninth, Satin added to his perfect effort by coaxing a walk. Altogether, his support propelled Binghamton to a 5-3 win.