I've had my picture taken with mascots at almost all levels: Triple-A, Double-A, Class A Advanced, and Class A. I do not have any pictures with me and mascots from Class A Short-Season or Rookie level teams.
My first photograph with a mascot happened by circumstance. In 2011, I attended a Tacoma Rainiers game will in Seattle for the AAG Annual Meeting. I don't remember the situation, but I was exploring the stadium when Rhubarb the Reindeer walked by, and I jumped on the chance to get my photo taken with him.
|Me with Rhubarb the Reindeer.|
Although I have been attending MiLB games since the early 1990s, I never sought out photo opportunities with mascots until 18 months ago. I was teaching in the geography department at Oklahoma State University, and decided to add some life to my first day of class slides and incorporated photos of me with mascots. If students guessed where I was based upon the picture they got a bonus point, and it helped me learn names with faces, too.
So the first time I did that, I included the my photo with Rhubabr and some others that I accumulated during the 2012 season. In order, I got photos with the Arkansas Travelers mascot Shelly (put out to pasture since the team's rebranding in 2014), the Montgomery Biscuits mascot Big Mo, and the Memphis Redbirds mascot Rockey the Rockin' Redbird.
|Me with Shelly at Dickey-Stephens Park.|
|Me with Big Mo at Riverwalk Stadium.|
|Me with Rockey the Rockin' Redbird.|
During the Spring 2013 semester before I went to Los Angeles for the AAG Annual Meeting, I had a student ask if I was going to get my picture taken with any mascots at the games I planned to attend. That's when something that started by happenstance turned into a hunt to get my picture with as many mascots as possible.
On that trip, I attended two Minor League games and got my picture with Tremor from the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes and Thunder from the Lake Elsinore Storm.
|Me with Tremor at LoanMart Field.|
|Me with Thunder at the Lake Elsinore Diamond.|
During the summer, I visited the Dayton Dragons while in Cincinnati, Ohio, for the AP Human Geography Reading. So I got my picture taken with all three of the team's mascots: dragons Gem and Heater, and Wink, an ogre.
|Me with Gem and Heater during a rain delay at Fifth Third Field.|
|Me with Wink at Fifth Third Field.|
Before my move from Oklahoma to Alabama, I did some sightseeing in in the Ozarks and got my picture taken with the both mascots for the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, Strike and Sinker, and the Springfield Cardinals duo: Louie and Fetch.
|Me with Strike at Arvest Ballpark.|
|Me with Sinker the Lake Creature at Arvest Ballpark.|
|Me with Louie at Hammons Field.|
|An extreme closeup of me with Fetch at Hammons Field.|
During the 2014 season, I got nine pictures with mascots from eight teams. The first three mascots I saw came during the AAG Annual Meeting in Tampa, Fla. I got pictures with Phinley from the Clearwater Threshers, Marty from the Bradenton Marauders, and Blue from the Tampa Yankees.
|Phinley try to eat me at Bright House Field.|
|Me with Marty at McKechnie Field.|
|Me with Blue at George M. Steinbrenner Field.|
After the AP Human Geography Reading I made two stops on my way back south, and saw the Bowling Green Hot Rods and Nashville Sounds. I got photos with both mascots from the Hot Rods, Axle the Bear and Roscoe the Grease Monkey, and I got a picture with the Sounds' mascot Ozzie.
|Me with Axle the Bear at Bowling Green Ballpark.|
|Me with Roscoe the Grease Monkey at Bowling Green Ballpark.|
|Me with Ozzie at Herschel Greer Stadium.|
In July, I went to a Gwinnett Braves game and got my photo with their mascot, Chopper. I had been to a G-Braves game prior to this season, but did not get a picture with the groundhog. So I made sure to my picture with him this time.
|Me with Chopper at Coolray Field.|
In early August, I made a trip through the Tennessee River Valley and visited the Chattanooga Lookouts and Huntsville Stars. The primary purpose of the trip was a reunion with former Stars coworkers, as the team has been sold and is supposed to move to Biloxi for the 2015 season. While I had been to a Lookouts game at AT&T Field many years ago, I had not blogged about my experience and wanted to be sure I got my photo with the Lookouts mascot Looie. With the Stars set to move, I felt compelled to get my photo with Homer the Polecat.
|Me with Looie at AT&T Field before I competed in musical chairs.|
|Me with Homer the Polecat at Joe W. Davis Stadium.|
I have a few places in mind that I hope to visit in 2015, but it's too early to predict how much I may get to travel next season. I know that I will be in the Chicago area in late April for the AAG Annual Meeting, but many Minor League teams have yet to release their 2015 schedules. Closer to home, I'm hopeful that I can see the minor league teams in Georgia and Alabama that I have not visited yet, which would add four teams to my tally and theoretically six mascots to my picture collection.