The other day I learned that Mr. Met is one of four MLB mascots inducted into the Mascot Hall of Fame. The others are from Philly, San Diego and Cleveland -- great cities, one and all, certainly.
But where, may I ask, is Bernie Brewer?
The mission of the Delaware-based Mascot Hall of Fame is "to honor great mascot performers, performance and programs that have inspired tradition and positively affected their communities."
Um, Bernie slides into a giant mug of beer when his team hits a home run ... in Milwaukee. (OK, well, he used to.) What else is there to say?!
Sure, Bernie isn't as colossally strange and improbable -- and seriously unsteady -- as Beer Barrel Man, but he is based on a real Brew Crew fan: Milt Mason, who perched atop the County Stadium scoreboard for more than a month in 1970, until the team drew a crowd of 40,000.
Bernie debuted not long before Mason's death in 1973 and Mason was acknowledged by the team as the blueprint for Bernie.
Bernie became so popular that nine years after he was inexplicably retired by the Brewers in 1984, fans demanded his return.
Now, I won't lie to you, there are few mascots as cool and as long-lived as Mr. Met, with whom I had the divine pleasure of being photographed at Miller Park when he was visiting for the 2002 All-Star Game, but if anyone is right up there in terms of mascots, it's Bernie Brewer.
Especially when you consider the other three MLB mascots already inducted: The Philly Phanatic and Cleveland's Slider? What the hell are they?! They look like stuffed animal designs gone awry. The San Diego Chicken? I love ya, S.D., but who thinks of chickens when they think of San Diego?!
Bernie completes the package. The Brewers (named for the guys who make beer) play in Miller Park (named for the real people who make beer) and he used to slide into a mug of ... wait for it ... beer!
Now the question is whether or not Bernie is eligible. Here are the requirements, from the Mascot Hall of Fame Web site ...
"To be eligible for nomination a character must have been in existence for at least 10 years. During that time the character must have had, or continues to have, a major impact on their sport, and/or community. Eligible characters include characters that perform at live sporting events as a primary function of their existence at both the professional and collegiate level. Eligible characters should be inspiring and their performance would be considered memorable or ground breaking.
"Professional characters are those characters that represent professional sports franchises and are the team’s official mascot. This includes all sports at every professional level. Professional level is determined by the fact that the athletes that are participating in the sport are being paid a salary.
"Characters are as much a part of the game as the players themselves. They are even by many standards the true face of the team. Players come and go but the mascot is there to stay. They entertain their fans time after time developing a deep rooted relationship with their communities. They extend their performances well outside the arenas and stadiums they call home showing up at grand openings, festivals, birthday parties, wedding receptions, parades, and almost any other form of community event. The best of these performances include death defying stunts, hilarious antics, and side splitting routines delighting the crowds they entertain. The Mascot Hall of Fame is here to bring forth and honor the best of these programs."
If you think Bernie is eligible and worthy, use this form to nominate him.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.