Sluggerrr: The story of a man, a crown, a tail and a dream

As a fixture at Kansas City Royals games and at other public events, Sluggerrr — the team's mascot — has entertained thousands of youngsters through the years.

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Sports

August 31, 2021 - 9:21 AM

A child hugs Sluggerrr after having his picture taken with the Kansas City Royals mascot during a recent game at Kauffman Stadium. Photo by Jim McLean / Kansas News Service / KCUR.ORG

KANSAS CITY, Missouri — Squeezing into the stifling costume of a professional sports mascot can make you lose 10 pounds in a half hour.

So just imagine jumping around in one — skipping across the field, dashing up stadium steps, dancing to delight the kids — on a summer day from well before the first pitch through the final out. And imagine pulling off that act in a form-fitting, six-foot, nine-inch lion’s costume topped by a giant crowned head.

“It’s like putting on leggings, then a Spandex shirt, then pajamas and then a snowsuit and then you have to be able to dance and be entertaining,” said Brad Collins, the man inside Sluggerrr, the mascot of the Kansas City Royals.

Sluggerrr and his fellow mascots celebrate the “birthday” of the Royals’ mascot at a recent game at Kauffman Stadium.Photo by Jim McLean / Kansas News Service / KCUR.ORG

Sweat be damned, Collins said he and others in the small fraternity of professional sports mascots consider it a dream job.

“It’s what I always wanted to do,” he said.

Like the players, the men and women who make it to the show as mascots often start in college and work their way up through the minors.

Those who get there form a select, tight-knit group. They talk frequently. Get together in the off-season. And steal gags from one another.

There are only 27 full-time mascot jobs in Major League Baseball. Three teams — the New York Yankees, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the LA Angels — don’t have them.

Professional mascots can earn well into six figures. Sluggerrr’s salary isn’t public but his going rate for public appearances is $400 an hour. 

On a recent Sunday, several of Sluggerrr’s fellow mascots showed up at Kauffman Stadium to help him celebrate the 25th anniversary of his debut. Fredbird, the mascot of the opposing St. Louis Cardinals was there. So were the Oriole Bird, Clark the Cub, Blooper of the Atlanta Braves, and Dinger, the mascot of the Colorado Rockies.

Kansas City Chiefs mascot KC Wolf also joined the celebration.

While waiting in a tunnel to take the field and perform, they bantered and compared costumes. Decked out in a purple dinosaur suit, Dinger sidled up to Clark the Cub to ask whether the hat sitting backward atop his bear costume could be reversed.

It works both ways, Clark said as Dinger nodded his approval.

Costumes can also be a slight source of envy in the mascot world. It’s easier, Collins said, for someone wearing a fuzzy green costume with a big belly, neon nose and googly eyes to get laughs than it is for him in a muscular lion’s suit.

“Those (cartoon-like characters) can just walk and it’s funny,” he said. “The more buff characters, we have to work harder. But it’s helped me evolve my skill set.”

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