A GREAT view of the field at AT&T Park in Chattanooga during their pre-season open house!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Mark Monninger aka Rally Bear- Unofficial Professional Mascot

I remember hearing about "Rally Bear" making an appearance at game 3 of the NLCS at the end of last season. The Dodgers, who are one of the few MLB teams left without an official mascot, seemed to have finally found a great one!

BUT, the Rally Bear was not endorsed by the team. I found out later that the man behind the Rally Bear mask was indeed a professional mascot, and he is someone who cares about sports in Los Angeles.

Sadly, security at Dodger Stadium escorted Rally Bear out, and they informed him that he could not come back to Dodgers' property for 6 months.

Many people in the area felt that this was uncool of the Dodgers, and Rally Bear has received a lot of support since then.

I was able to find Mark Monninger (aka Rally Bear) very easily online. I sent him a note and he VERY kindly agreed to answer some questions for the blog!

Mark's responses to my questions are in bold.
So Mark, it seems that you have worked with MANY pro sports teams at the highest levels. What teams have you worked with, and which team and mascot was your favorite?
In 1993, they brought a minor league baseball team to our city of Rancho Cucamonga. The Quakes were a HUGE hit in our town, we sold out every game in our first three seasons. I was asked to help create a new mascot. A dinosaur named Tremor, the Rallysaurus was born. The costume was built by the same company that had just created new mascots for the NFL the year before. Tremor became the hit of the game, and many said them often came to the game just to see Tremor perform and were very entertained by him. Being Tremor led to being the mascot for the Rams, which lead to being the Dallas Cowboy mascot for the 1994 Super Bowl vs. Buffalo. That was probably my favorite moment, being the Cowboy mascot for our country’s biggest sporting event.

Do you have a favorite mascot that you have not played? Do you enjoy watching other mascots when you go to a sports event as a fan? 

 In 1995 I was asked to attend an All-Star Mascot Event in Florida representing Tremor, and got a chance to meet and work with most all of the working mascots in the NFL, MLB, NHL & NBA at the time. I still think the Philly Fanatic is one of the best. He’s very creative, he’s very animated and works his costume well. The Famous Chicken – “the grandfather” of all professional mascots, certainly gave me a lot of inspiration to be a mascot in college. I even did a term paper on how he got his start and his success in the late 70s and early 80s.
What makes a good mascot?
When I was a mascot instructor in college, we taught high school and college mascots one major theme...EXAGGERATE! Make you movements big so that everyone in the stadium can see you. A good mascot must also relate to their fans. Love everyone equally, make them smile, respect and know the game you work. Be entertaining but try not to upstage the main reason that people are there...and that’s to watch their favorite team compete in a sporting event.

After the Dodgers response to the Rally Bear, are you still a fan of the team? Will you return to Dodger Stadium at the end of your 6 month ban?
I was born and raised in Southern California, so I actually like both the Dodgers and Angels. I’m a fan of the game, and enjoy great players from all teams. I didn’t attend a lot of games last season, so a ban wasn’t such a big deal for me.
Surely you have been contacted by some other teams or other businesses interested in Rally Bear. I hate to think we have seen the last of him! What are his plans for the future?
I was approached by another minor league team to come and perform at their stadium, but I wasn’t really interested in going back to performing at minor league games again. I really think that the Angels and Dodgers should rethink their stance on a entertaining mascot. A mascot doesn’t have to be the one that runs with a kid around the bases, or just shoots shirts into the stands, they can also represent the team at children’s hospitals, and school events. They can be an ambassador for the team and be part of their marketing plans. A good mascot that is loved by the fans young and old will also sell a LOT of merchandise. That would help pay for a Kershaw-like salary!
I was listening to the LA ESPN radio show when they interviewed you. They talked about how easy it was to locate you (I think they said it took them 7 minutes). Other than me, have other people tracked you down through your place of business wanting to talk about Rally Bear?
A few. Mostly a lot of media. The few people that did call said they thought it was great what I did, and some that even said they were opposed to a mascot, but if it was one like me, they would support it. That was good to hear, cause that’s the message I’ve been trying to get across to the Dodgers for the last year. It would work if you just get the right person in the right costume. I got lucky and found a costume (actually a Ted costume I got a Halloween Shop) that didn’t offend, was cute, could be tied into the state (the Bear is on our state flag) but a carefully planned costume by the Dodgers or Angels would really go over well.
Anyway, thanks Mark, I hope we see a lot more of Rally Bear in the future!
Me too.....Thanks Jim.
Here is a link to a site supporting Rally Bear-
If you are in the Rancho Cucamonga area, you can buy some furniture directly from Rally Bear!  Check out Mark's company site at-

I didn't ask Mark if he ever thought about writing a book, but I hope he considers it....  A Super Bowl appearance AND he has worked with all sorts of different teams!  I bet he has some more great stories to share!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Quad Cities River Bandits Park Updates

Fun guy Benjamin Hill wrote a great article on milb.com about the Quad Cities River Bandits park getting some amusement park style additions.

Here is the article-


First off, have you been to Modern Woodmen Park in Davenport?  The place is amazing.  It is a unique and beautiful place to see a game.  Here is some info from my visit there back in 2012-


I guess I am asking myself, "Does adding a Ferris wheel to this park make me want to visit it again?"

The answer is, "Absolutely."

Again, even without rides and updates, this park is perfect.  That bridge is amazing, and in a cozy little park like this, you are going to have a great baseball experience!

Still, I tip my hat to the River Bandits organization for wanting to do more.  They obviously want this park to be beyond amazing.  They want the baseball purist, and the young kid to have a great time.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Wild Pitches

It's January and pretty much nothing baseball related is going on.  I am itching for anything baseball related right now.

So, is it strange that I got excited the other night while watching the GREAT TV show "The Middle" (which is set in Indianapolis) and they mentioned going to an Indianapolis Indians game?

I remember "Seventh Heaven" had some references to the Modesto Nuts on their show (I never saw the show, but when I went to a game in Modesto, some of the staff were talking about it). 

We all know about the connection "MASH" had to the Toledo Mud Hens.  That was cool.

I think it would be great if the Heck family found their way to Victory Field sometime this season! 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Wild Pitches

There are some interesting things FINALLY going on in the world of minor league baseball right now!

Joe Mikulik is managing again!  I REALLY like this guy, and I am glad he has another chance to do his thing.  For over a decade, the man was a huge part of baseball in the SAL.  Here is some more info blueridgenow.com-


AL.com has put together a timeline for the Huntsville Stars, who will be playing their last season in 2014.  They will be moving to Mississippi.


I do hope that area sees a pro team again.  BUT, I have to be honest, I can think of many other baseball towns I would enjoy roadtripping to in the south more (Chattanooga, Nashville, Sevierville, Birmingham, Savannah, etc). 

Lastly, I am sure you know about the fire that broke out at Fifth Third Ballpark near Grand Rapids Michigan.  I love this park and the entire area around it.  For some reason, I keep finding myself there and I have come to admire this team, its park, and the surrounding community.  I am certain that the park will be back in shape by the start of the season.  I really look forward to seeing more games there.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Seating and a Foul Ball Lawsuit

When I get to a park and buy my tickets for the game, I can get a bit particular.  If its a park I have never been to before, and the person selling tickets seems competent, I might ask for their opinion about where to go for the best skyline view, or where to get a seat without the sun in my eyes.  If it looks like there might be rain, I will ask for a seat under an awning.

Normally though, I simply ask for an aisle seat, near third, without netting obstruction.  Sometimes when I ask for that, I get a blank stare.

But, I am aware of the dangers of foul balls, especially at the smaller minor league parks I love.  Our ears have been grazed, seats we were sitting in have been nailed seconds after we get up for a dog....  I can go on.

There are some horror stories out there.  Coaches and fans have been hurt over the last several seasons.

I know when I go to a game with my dad, he would rather have the seats behind the net.  I like taking pictures from my seat though, and the net is terrible.  I know a lot of people feel differently about this.  I would hate to have a day when you go to the ballpark, and ALL seats are protected by netting.  What do you think?

Here is an article by Dan Carden with the Northwest Indiana Times about some legal concerns relating to a fan hit (and seriously injured) by a ball.


Thursday, January 2, 2014

Risks of Bringing a New Park to Town


I just read this Freeman Klopott article about risks to a community of building a new park.

If you aren't a fan of minor league baseball, the article might be a tad confusing as it goes back and forth discussing the independent leagues and affiliated baseball teams, but the article makes an interesting point.