Welcome to Minor Enterprise, where each Wednesday we preview, and occasionally review, the great events and promotions of minor league baseball. If you have a tip about a minor league promotion, or perhaps you've been arrested for public drunkeness while wearing a mascot beaver costume, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You read about his antics in last week's Minor Enterprise, and if you're lucky enough to have attended a Class A Carolina League Wilimington Blue Rocks game recently, you have seen him in person. But to many, famed mascot Mr. Celery remains an enigma. So we placed a call and got a stunning exclusive: an interview with mascot extrodinaire, Mr. Celery. (Mr. Celery to be played here by Blue Rocks Director of Community Relations Mark Vanderhaar, who usually wears the suit). So without further ado:
US: What is the hardest thing about being Mr. Celery?
MR. CELERY (Mark Vanderhaar): Sometimes it can get hot in the suit — which is little more than a big, green tube — when you're standing in the tunnel waiting to come out. And then there are the giant sneakers.
Why a celery?
That's the question we get asked the most. The best answer I can give you is the one that our general manager, Chris Kemple, always gives: 'Why not?'
How was Mr. Celery born?
The answer isn't very glamorous. He was found while dumpster diving. The team was looking for costumes for promotional ideas, and we found a bunch of costumes that a concession company had thrown out. There was also a pink rabbit.
The dramatic conclusion to the Mr. Celery interview — including a photo that is in very, very poor taste — after the jump.
A sampling of upcoming minor league promotions (we tip our comically oversized cap to Benjamin Hill for his help with these):
• Latin Night Featuring A Captured Chupacabra (Thursday, Oklahoma RedHawks, Pacific Coast League). As legend has it, there is nothing more terrifying than the mysterious Chupacabra (Spanish for "goat-sucker"), famous in Mexican folklore and from assorted X-Files episodes. But now comes the news that RedHawks groundskeeper Monte McCoy has captured the creature with a batting-practice net and knocked it out with a rake. Fans may inspect the beast on Thursday, when it will also be available for pinch-running duties.
• Steve Sax Night (Saturday, Orem Owlz, Pioneer League). Sax, who played in the Pioneer League, will delight fans by not throwing a baseball in their direction (except for the ceremonial first pitch ... look out, Grandma!).
• Ron "Horshack" Palillo Appearance (Monday, Altoona Curve, Eastern League). Who is Horshack? "Ooh, ooh, I know, Mr. Kotter! Ohh!" Just think: If things had gone slightly differently, it could have been Ron Palillo dancing with Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction.
• Kazoo Record Attempt. We are on full alert for results of Tuesday's Louisville Bats promotion, in which fans attempted to break the world record for largest group playing the same song by kazoo. If you attended this game, can you please give us a shout and let us know what happened? It's maddening! (By the way, no matter how you look at it, this is very disturbing). (Thanks to Cate).
• Mascot of the Week: "Boomer the Beaver has got nothing on Timber Jim, the other mascot that roams Portland's PGE Park. He doesn't drink beer, but he has a local brew named in his honor, and his main prop is a chainsaw." Take that, nature! (Thanks to Andy McNamara).
• Bobblehead of the Moment: Nicole Sherry Bobblehead Giveaway (Wednesday, Trenton Thunder, Eastern League). As the Trenton Thunder's head groundskeeper, Nicole Sherry is entrusted with the challenging task of keeping Mercer County Waterfront Park in tip-top shape. It's the sort of job that usually doesn't get much recognition, but tonight the Thunder are honoring Ms. Sherry with her very own bobblehead doll. It's about damn time.
And now, the rest of our interview with Mr. Celery.
What does Mr. Celery do?
He comes out and dances after the Blue Rocks score a run. Not being the team's main mascot (Rocky Bluewinkle has that honor), Mr. Celery is not seen that often. Dances may include "The Lawnmower," "The John Travolta," and others. We have other mascots, including "Rubble," a big blue rock, and a hot dog. But Celery steals the show. He appeals to both kids and adults.
Does he do promotional events in the community?
Mr. Celery is not allowed to go outside of the stadium. A little of Mr. Celery goes a long way, and we don't want him to be overexposed.
We're hearing disburbing reports from readers that you actually offer celery in your concession area.
This is true. Celery and peanut butter. Mr. Celery does not know of this.
How many fans attend a typical Blue Rocks game?
We average 4,500 fans per game; very good for Single-A baseball, and tops in our league. We've been in the league for 14 years, although there was a Blue Rocks team here in the 1940s. The team was named for large deposits of blue granite that are found in the area.
Johnny Damon played here. So he is what we call "With Celery."
We'd like to thank you, Mr. Celery, for taking time from your busy schedule to talk with us.
MR. CELERY: I was just answering phones. The regular person is off.
We'd like to stress that this was a true, nothing-fabricated interview with a man who routinely dresses as a large vegetable for the amusement of others. As such, we think it went pretty well.