No, this book not about the history of Nelly’s 2002 hit ‘Hot in Herre’, but just give it a shot. In this book, author AJ Mass divulges his personal history in the world of mascoting, including a stint as the famed Mr. Met in the mid-90s. He also tells the stories of other mascots in Major League, Minor League, and Collegiate sports in his second book ‘Yes, It’s Hot In Here‘.
I don’t think I ever thought too much about the mascots, or their role in the atmosphere of a sporting event. I remember being kind of creeped out by them as a child. The first 2 mascots that I can remember actively thinking about were both introduced to me in the same arena, within a span of a few months. Hal, 1 of the 2 mascots for the Halifax Mooseheads, a QJMHL team, was the first of the mascots that really captured me. The reason he stood out was that I couldn’t figure out what he was or what kind of connection this furry yellow thing had to the Mooseheads. This is a question I never had answered, but I guess that’s part of the magic of a mascot.
I’ve always loved a good acrobatics showcase, which why I was immediately taken by the Toronto Raptors’ aptly-named mascot ‘the Raptor’ during an exhibition game in Halifax, NS in the fall of 2012. I was seriously impressed with his ability to perform gymnastics while in a furry and probably somewhat constricting costume. From the moment I saw him, he was my favourite mascot across all major league sports (nothing can trump the AAA Buffalo Bisons’ Celery, okay?). The Raptor is an integral part of the Raptors brand. This was proved when just a year after I was introduced to the Raptor. He tore his Achilles tendon during a school performance, and the team supported him, and shared with the fans his journey to recovery. When he returned, the Raptors made a spectacle out of the day to welcome him back.
I digress, this isn’t about me. It’s about current ESPN fantasy sports writer, AJ Mass. I first heard AJ Mass on an episode of Rob Has a Podcast, talking about the way Survivor players could fall into the categories he illustrated in his first book ‘How Fantasy Sports Explain the World’. He returned the podcast each season to give his input on the players. Not a fantasy sports player myself, I wasn’t immediately drawn to the book, but I like a good sports anecdote every now and again, so I gave it a try. I liked the book a lot. I enjoyed looking at the world from the eyes of a fantasy sports player, and I agree with some of Mass’ opinions, but it didn’t totally resonate with me for whatever reason. Regardless, I pre-ordered a copy of ‘Yes, it’s Hot in Here’ (in hardcover too, I loved the cover design and wanted it on my bookshelf).
The book opens up with a story during Mass’ time as Mr. Met on Jackie Robison day. His wife was present at Shea Stadium that day, as was the sitting president Bill Clinton. AJ had to go through many different security measures, which isn’t always easy with a large, baseball-shaped helmet with a face on it, held together by numerous screws. His boss told him to not embarrass the organization while such esteemed guests were present. Soon after that conversation, Mrs. Robinson approached him, delighted to meet Mr. Met and requested a picture with him. Though, a conversation with a secret service agent discouraged him from trying to meet the president.
AJ Mass speaks with numerous different former and current mascots to find out how they came to be a mascot and what the future holds for them. Mass does a great job at threading the stories of others in with his own, along with the current day musings of becoming a guest mascot.
The book managed to be sad, heart-warming, incredibly funny, and overall very interesting. It took me deep into a world that I never really considered before. I loved learning the history of mascots, which are now such a large part of fan experience at sporting events. I was completely engrossed in this book, and didn’t want to put it down. It’s great for any sports fan, or anyone who you know is just at the game to see the mascot. Thanks to this book, I now have a deep desire to meet the Phanatic.