2003 - 2004
August 15, 2004
Photo Credit: Nelson Kepley / News & Record
by Larry Keech
Travis Trotter has served as mascot for the Greensboro Prowlers and Greensboro Generals. More recently, he has worked as "Casey The Bat" for the Greensboro Bats.
Q: How did you become a mascot in the first place?
A: Rick Sher, my supervisor at work with Dixie Sales, was involved with hockey, and he asked if I'd be interested in operating the Carolina Hurricanes' radio control blimp during their last season in Greensboro (1997-98). When the Generals returned to the coliseum, I started wearing a puckhead and a hockey sweater. In 2001, they lost their "Sarge" when he wanted more money than they were willing to pay. I told them I'd be willing to do it for tickets.
Q: Did you have any problems adjusting to the job?
A: Until you get used to it, it's hard to see where you're going. It's like looking through a pinhole in the middle of a tunnel with people all around you.
Q: How much discomfort is involved when you wear a mascot uniform?
A: There can be plenty. It was hard to maneuver in the Sarge suit I inherited. Besides the big head, he had a padded chest with a tight, rigid fit around the torso. Whenever you moved your arms, you felt like the Frankenstein monster. So I got rid of his Army outfit and replaced it with a hockey jersey. The heat inside most mascot uniforms can be almost unbearable when it's humid. They make them as comfortable as possible, I guess. But if you're an animal, you have to look furry. I remember having to make appear at the Fourth of July parade as the Prowlers' mascot. It was one of those days that was so hot that the TV weathermen were advising viewers not to go outside unless they had to. I walked 10 blocks, and my entire body was soaked.
Q: Is there anything you can do to combat the heat factor?
A: You can wear ice packs, but they only last about five minutes. The 100 percent polyester shirts and shorts they're making to wear under uniforms are good for drying up sweat.
Q: With that kind of aggravation, the pay for mascots must be pretty good.
A: Not really. I worked my way up to $25 a game as Sarge. Casey The Bat pays a little bit more. It barely covers my gas money.
Q: So what keeps you coming back?
A: It's the attention from the crowds and the looks on youngsters' faces when they relate to you. Many of them will hug you and treat you like a hero because you're a giant cartoon character.
Q: When you're mingling with large crowds, wearing a costume that restricts your movement and vision, are you ever subjected to harassment from fans who aren't so friendly?
A: That's part of the reason why every mascot is accompanied by a "spotter" who carries any extra props you might need and serves as a bodyguard to keep unfriendly fans at a distance. I'm fortunate to have a really good spotter, Jarvis Martin.
Q: Have you gotten to know any other mascots?
A: My mentor was Phil Madren, who was Monty the Lion for the Monarchs. He taught me how to develop a personality and how to skate. The most fun I've ever had as a mascot was when we worked up a Blues Brothers "Soul Man" routine for "Pack The House Night" at a Generals' game last season. When the Hurricanes staged a mascot birthday party, I met Gee Wiz of the Washington Wizards, Canton The Bear of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Stormy, the Canes' mascot.
Q: You've turned the mascot role into almost a year-round avocation. How has it affected your day job and your family life?
A: For the last two years, I've worked as a customer service rep for Dixie Sales, which supplies parts for outdoor power equipment. They've been amazingly supportive in allowing me the flexibility I need for mascot work. Angie, my wife, has been a saint. We've been married six years, and we dated for five before that. She knows I'm a ham, and she believes I'm a natural as a mascot. She and my daughter come to a lot of games.
Q: What are your short-term and long-term ambitions as a mascot?
A: I'm eager to keep working at it. I also have made some appearances as SpongeBob Squarepants, Tommy Pickles (Rugrats) and the Easter Bunny for F&M Entertainment, a company in Raleigh. I hated to see Greensboro lose the Generals, and I'm hoping there will be a team in another league. I've also contacted the Winston-Salem Polar Twins, and maybe I can work for the baseball team again next season. I like working for minor-league teams because it affords more contact with the fans. Major League mascotting jobs seem a lot more corporate oriented, and they're subject to a lot of competition.
Family: Wife Angie, daughter Madison, 22 months
Education: Randleman High School
Background: Since becoming a Greensboro Monarchs' hockey fan more than a decade ago, Trotter eventually became involved with on ice promotional efforts. He agreed to serve as "Scratch," the mascot for the Greensboro Prowlers in af2. Next, he was tapped as "Sarge" for the Greensboro Generals. More recently, he has worked as "Casey The Bat" for the Greensboro Bats. Somewhere along the way, being a mascot got into his blood