When the play on the field is less than spectacular, fans throughout baseball can always smile when their mascots cavort. In a season gone wrong, for many it is only habit which keeps fans coming back. It’s hot out. The summer is long. Kids demand it. Moms and Dads everywhere seek the shade of the stadiums as a brief respite from the daily tasks of raising their children.
That’s baseball in many parks in America this June, the last Sunday of June, 2015.
In Philadelphia there is the Phillies Phanatic. The team’s manager resigned this week. What? A manager resigned rather than letting the team axe him so he can walk away with the monies that are owed him? Yet there is always the Phanatic…the one with the wobbly stomach whose antics are some of the best in all of sport. Many, this season, just go to the ball park in the City of Brotherly Love to see what the Phanatic will do on that day. They already have a pretty good guess on what the team will do.
In Milwaukee, they have a bunch of mascots. There is barrelman roaming the stands as the original mascot come to life. Bernie is in his chalet ready to make that slide in case this team is a memory of Harvey’s Wallbangers. And then there are the ‘sausages’…Klement’s Racing Sausages.
Twenty-two years ago, when the team was as bad as they are today and would remain until the ‘Prince’, Ricky, Cory and Ben would save them from obscurity and the misunderstanding of the game by the Family Selig, one of the team’s sponsors, Klement Sausage Co. wanted to put their product on the field as the ‘Racing Sausages’. If you were in the stands on that day in 1993, you witnessed one of the greatest spectacles in sport. Yes. Greater than the skier falling off the ski jump in the ‘Wide World of Sports’ opening on ABC. Yes. Greater than Howard’s call, ‘Down goes Frasier. Down goes Frasier’. The sausages racing in from left field to somewhere past the first base bag, had the crowd betting ‘ons ons’ on the sausages.
By the way, if you don’t bet on Polish this season, you are going against the house. It is named in the honor of Max Surkont who ate himself out of major league baseball during his stint as a Milwaukee Braves ‘sausageing’ himself beyond recognition as he dined on a number of them each and ever night. But I digress.
Back then, in the 90s, the crowd went wild. And well before the day of social media, everyone in the community began talking about it, even in the boardroom of Splinter Pickles where it was discussed whether ‘Pangborn S. Pickle’, the company mascot, should challenge Klements, another south side food manufacturer, to a duel in the sun. But alas, the Splinter board found out it would cost sponsorship monies and that deal was out. Their lawyer, the Grand Russ Pickel said in a statement, ‘No Dill!’.
Up in Little Chute, the executive committee pondered introducing ‘Jack’s Rolling Pizzaman’ and challenge the sausages. After all, they were once a sponsor of the pregame Brewers broadcasts in the 80s. But it was decided that ‘Pizzaman’ would be too difficult to make in motion unless it could be done on a big wheel. In the search for the perfect penny farthing, the search for a rider in a pepperoni pizza suit simply could not be found. Jim, who ran Jack’s and didn’t want it named Jim’s, said: ‘No Dill!’
But in Waukesha, the chessemen at Milwaukee Cheese were not to be outdone. The Swiss owner felt they could have a wheel of cheddar challenge with a cheese race of their own in the Fifth Inning, rather than wait for the Seventh. Always looking for a way to one-up the competition when it came to shelf space in the grocery stores, the cheese czar felt Cheddar could challenge Swiss along with Jack (the cheese not the pizza) and Havarti and bring the crowd to its feet. Preparations were made but alas, Klement’s had a non-compete clause in its contract with the Brewers leading advertising station and the head of that, W.T.M. Steve, said ‘No Mold’ to the cheese king. That was grating.
Thus, and to this day, Klement’s has been putting on a show, so great, that even the Cubbies on the North Side of Chicago have called them in to entertain their crowd from time to time. That of course is considered almost sacrilegious and some of the sausages refused to go down to the Windy land of chewing gum, gaining career applause from the sauced-up crowd in Milwaukee (Secret Stadium Sauce). After all, they are the Cubs. Well done, link. Well done.
And here we are today. When you stand for that stretch and the sausages are announced, call out ‘Polish’ as your ons-ons bet. Chances are pretty good it will win by at least seven links.
Remember, and now for a moment of silence, all of this began with the legendary San Diego Chicken. RIP, Chicken. The kids of San Diego are sad today because they will never see the legend perform in what led to that ‘thing’ in Philadelphia and Milwaukee.
P.S. The Presidents in DC are not included because their team is a traitor and are leading their division. But Teddy’s OK. The racing big heads in Phoenix are not included because they have arguably cheated because they thought everybody was doing it so why not for the team that is owned by the guy who owns all the baseball cards. As for the Mets, they are not included because they are associated with the Big Apple in Center Field and because of their nearness to ‘The Hair’, one and only, ‘The Donald’. The Twin City dude is not included because his team is only a couple of games out of the lead. We’re talking losers here, folks. Nuff said.
In Grateful Memory Baseball Award goes to ‘Youppi!’, the mascot of the Montreal Expos, as it was the first mascot to be thrown out of a Major League Baseball game. On August 23, 1989, in the 11th inning, while atop the visitors’ dugout, Youppi! took a running leap, landing hard and noisily on its roof, and then sneaked into a front row seat. L.A. Dodgers manager, Tommy Lasorda, complained to the umpires and Youppi! was ejected. Come on, Tommy. What were you thinking? Youppi! was abandoned as a mascot after the Expos franchise moved to Washington in 2005, but was adopted by the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens team on September 16, 2005, as potentially the first sports mascot to switch their allegiance from one sport to another, while remaining in the same city. Go, You ol Youppi you.