Mascot races: Minor-league baseball’s weirdest mid-inning entertainers, including eyeballs, bagels, and a gigantic hunk of wasabi.

Minor-League Baseball’s Weirdest Mascot Races, Featuring Mayors, Eyeballs, and Wasabi

The stadium scene.
July 2 2012 6:45 AM

Eyeballs, Bagels, and a Gigantic Hunk of Wasabi

Inside the hilarious, treacherous, smelly world of minor league mascot races.

(Continued from Page 1)

Eyeballs: Lakewood BlueClaws director of promotions Hal Hansen often participates in the eyeball race that takes place during the sixth inning of every home game at FirstEnergy Park. The good news: The Single-A Phillies affiliate based out of Lakewood, N.J.,  recently acquired new costumes that feature a small battery-powered blower that keeps the eyes inflated. “It is incredibly better technology than the eyeballs we originally purchased in 2001,” says Hansen. The bad news: The new costume set includes a brown eye. “Occasionally we’ll hear [vulgar heckling] from an older fan,” he says. “Usually those comments are on Thursdays when we have our $1 beers at our outfield tiki bar.”

The Lakewood BlueClaws' Eyeball Race, Lakewood, N.J.
The Lakewood BlueClaws' Eyeball Race, Lakewood, N.J.

Photo courtesy Lakewood BlueClaws.

Asparaguses: Yes, those are asparaguses racing around the field at Stockton Ports games. And yes, the racing veggies do have names: Blanche, Burney, and Lil’ Hank. This six-year-old race actually makes more sense than you’d think. Each spring, Stockton, Calif.,is home to the Asparagus Festival, so the Single-A affiliate of the Oakland Athletics came up with the race as a tribute to the community. And here’s the kicker: Fans run this race. “[It’s] just whoever walks in the front gate and is willing to participate,” says media relations employee Nicole Loscavio. “They do sign a waiver once they volunteer,” she explains.

The Stockton Ports' Asparagus Race, Stockton, Calif.
The Stockton Ports' Asparagus Race, Stockton, Calif.

Photo courtesy Stockton Ports.

Pork products: These are the facts: 1) The Lehigh Valley IronPigsPork Racers are Chris P. Bacon, Diggity, Barbie Q., and Hambone. 2) Hambone is the most sinister, evil-looking hunk of ham you will ever see. He is scary. 3) Nothing is known about Hambone, or, for that matter, Mr. Bacon, or that sandwich-looking thing with blonde hair. Do not attempt to learn anything about these racers—all interview requests will be denied. “The Pork Racers, like most mascots, do not talk,” I was informed by the Allentown Triple-A club’s media relations staff. “[The team does not] want the identities of those who [are] in the costumes revealed. Our Pork Racers have their own identities, and we do not want fans to associate a Pork Racer with a specific person.”

The Lehigh Valley IronPigs' Pork Racers, Allentown, Pa.
The Lehigh Valley IronPigs' Pork Racers, Allentown, Pa.

Photograph courtesy Lehigh Valley IronPigs.


Matthew J.X. Malady is Slate’s Good Word columnist. Follow him on Twitter @matthewjxmalady.

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