Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Morning Briefing

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Morning Briefing

Article excerpt

It's never difficult to find a class clown.

Team mascots may get paid to get laughs, but in Nashville, Tenn., it's the wanna-be mascots who do the paying, $795 in all, at the Professional Mascot School.

And it's no laughing matter.

"This is deadly serious work," says DEAN SCHOENEWALD, who runs the weeklong sessions.

Schoenewald himself has been a mascot for 16 years, working as the San Jose Shark and the New Jersey Devil in the National Hockey League, the Philadelphia Eagle in the National Football League, and is currently Champ, a lime-green dinosaur who serves as the mascot for the Nashville Sounds, a Class AAA baseball team.

Schoenewald says teams look to him when there's a mascot suit to fill.

"It's neat to have the teams calling," he says. "It's like they're looking for the first-round draft choice."

No word yet on the lottery picks in this year's graduating class.

Mascot work is particularly serious work in the Texas-Louisiana League, where DAVY CRICKET, the bug-suited mascot for the Lubbock Crickets, got the heave-ho after a brawl broke out in a game this week.

Cricket seemed to be as innocent a bystander as the other insects in the park Wednesday night when he was tossed by umpire MEL CHETTUM after a beanball incident involving the Crickets and the Abilene Prairie Dogs.

"I was just standing there by the third-base line, and Mel pushed me from behind," Cricket said. "He shoves me and says, `Get this bug off the field.' "

Jiminy! What an injustice.

In addition to Cricket, a manager and two players, Chettum and umpiring partner VINCE PRICE ejected scoreboard operators STEVE COOPER and ARNI SRIBHEN. Their crime: flashing a sign on the scoreboard that showed an eye and a pair of glasses.

The National Football League decided in the offseason that it was going to insist that players start playing fair. Beginning with this preseason, NFL officials will enforce rules that have been on the books since the 1970s. …

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