News & Politics

“I Was Really Hot—I Was Otto the Orange”

Who’s got spirit? These Washingtonians do. They cheered, yelled, and sweated as mascots for their team. Here’s the good, the bad, and the downright strange of their time inside a big, fuzzy costume.

Name Mascot The Good The Bad The Bizarre
Karen Travers,deputy political director at ABC News Georgetown Hoya, 1999–2000 Meeting the kids: “They would try to look in the eyes to see me, and they would see my eyes in the mouth. That was really entertaining.” “I would be drenched. They have a new costume now, but I don’t want to think about all the people who had been drenched before me.” “The actual bulldog, Jack, was a male dog, and it hadn’t been neutered. At a football game, he grabbed my leg and started humping my leg. One of the cheerleaders came over and pulled him off.”
Bromley Lowe, producer of a kids’ comedy show American University Eagle, 1991–94 Baltimore Oriole, 1994–2004 “You’re spreading a lot of smiles. You can be really silly. It’s a great workout. It’s a lot of fun.” “When I was doing it for the Orioles, I had to deal with a lot of drunks. Sometimes you can goof with them, but some sports fans take life very seriously.” “We swept the Phillies. I went out there with a broom and started sweeping. This coach started cursing me; 45 minutes later there’s this banging on my dressing room. I was out of costume. The coach asked if I knew where the mascot was, and I told him I didn’t. He yelled and stormed out.”
Chip Amoe, executive at the American Society of Anesthesiologists University of Rhode Island Rhody the Ram, 1992–94 “I just liked making people laugh. It was fun to get the crowd up and going.” “The older kids are the worst people to be around. They just want to beat you up. I had kids try to push me down the bleachers at a football game.” “At the Atlantic Ten championships in Philadelphia, Bill Cosby was there. He was a big Temple fan. I did the Bill Cosby dance for him.”
Kristina Gonzales, FAA program analyst University of Arizona Wilma Wildcat, 2001–03 “The fact that I was representing the school.” “We had really busy schedules. It was really hard to juggle our appearances and my schoolwork.” “I was at a women’s basketball game, and all of a sudden I heard this rumbling. I couldn’t see anything. I got rammed and went rolling down the bleachers. An old man was walking down the stairs and missed a step and fell down. It ended up being good because I cushioned his fall, so he didn’t really get hurt. I was just a little bruised.”
Tracee Hamilton, deputy sports editor, the Washington Post University of Kansas Baby Jay, 1984–85 “The kids and seeing how excited they get.” “Kansas State is our big rival. Its Willie the Wildcat mascot picked me up by the arm and was twirling me around. I was screaming. It hurt so much. Big Jay had to come and wrench me free, and they got into it. It was brutal.” “We weren’t supposed to take the costume out. You went to the field house and checked it out. I was doing some appearance one day and a game the next, so I was allowed to take it home. My roommates and I posed it in my bed. We put it in the shower with a cap on it. We put it near the liquor cabinet with its hand around a bottle.”
Rob Raffety, lawyer Syracuse University Otto the Orange, 1998–99 “Otto is a bit of a local icon. I would go to hospitals and do some community-service work. That was fun.” “You were sharing this hot and, shall we say, aromatic costume with three other people, four other people. For the football games we would take turns. If you didn’t go first it was really awful.” “I’m from West Virginia originally. That fall Syracuse was playing the Mountaineers in West Virginia. There was a radio DJ who was telling people to give me a really hard time. We were a ranked team, and West Virginia upset the Orange. I think I was the jinx to the game.”
Bill Peters,retired Marine officer Xavier University original Musketeer, 1965–68 “Being on the sidelines, cheering the guys on.” “We had this bell that weighed 150 pounds. I had to carry it around.” “We played Marshall once. They’re the Thundering Herd, and the mascot was dressed as a bison. As I turned and walked away, he bent down and ran into me. I thought that was kind of a cheap shot.”
Rory Duffield, special-ed teacher Villanova University Will D. Wildcat, 1996– 2000 “Traveling. You travel with the cheerleaders, and they’re a fun group to hang out with. I got the best seat in the house.” “I would lose ten pounds of water weight from all the sweating. You had to replenish your fluids afterward, and you’re sweaty and tired.” “The last year Hip-Hop, the 76ers mascot, was having a birthday party. They invited all the mascots from the professional, minor, and collegiate league. We split up into two teams and had a basketball game in our uniforms.”