Why are mascots important to minor league baseball? In the current economy, you would think a budget-friendly version of our national pastime could stand on its own. Let’s face it though. There’s a lot of competition for our entertainment time and dollars. With rosters full of “Who are you?” and “Didn’t you used to be?” there are more empty ballparks and folded franchises than we care to admit to.
Mascots give your team brand identity, and if your first baseman isn’t making the SportsCenter highlights, you frankly need all the identity you can get. Why do you think NFL teams have cheerleading squads? Brand identity keeps people coming to the ballpark, even when the team actively works against it. As a former mascot wrangler myself, mascots are unsung heroes especially in independent baseball. Mascots are the hook that get people into the game and keep them returning, until an investment is made in the team They might look juvenile, but without them, your professional baseball team becomes a glorified NCAA roster.
The New Jersey Jackals of Little Falls, New Jersey, are a member of the Canadian American Association of Professional Baseball. Since they came on the scene in 1998 as a member of the Northeast League, the Jackals have been home to Jack the Jackal – the team’s mascot-in-residence. Other than providing the team with amazing alliteration, I find the jackal to be an interesting choice to represent a baseball franchise in the Garden State. Raised in New Jersey, I had no idea the state was an indigenous home to jackals. Please note I did do several searches. I found jerks indigenous to New Jersey, jug heads indigenous to New Jersey but…no jackals. I contacted the Jackals Broadcasting and Media Relations representative but received no response by press time. Even though I find a jackal from Jersey to be as suspect as Snooki doing Shakespeare, I’m seriously down with Jack the Jackal.
Ok. I will stop now. I’m starting to sound like a mascot birther.
Unlike other mascots in the league (I’m looking at you, Newark Bears), Jack the Jackal gives the team personality, humor and identity. Let’s face it. He’s very Jersey. He’s got an orangey tan. All right, it’s more like orange fur. He’s got buff arms. Has he been hitting the gym with “The Situation”? Most importantly, he always looks sharp. Look how Jack does laundry (http://vodpod.com/watch/743221-jack-the-jackal-does-the-laundry).
Seriously, the Jackals organization has done everything right with Jack the Jackal. He gives the brand a look. He actually looks like a ball player. OK. A really hairy one, but go with this. When kids come to the ballpark, they may not be able to identify the franchise’s outfield but they sure as heck can identify Jack. The kids actually have a connection to the team. Jack has also helped the team to create a heavy online presence. I’ve yet to find another independent team that has as many YouTube videos as the New Jersey Jackals. Where are you without an online identity these days?
Although he doesn’t have the gloss and shine of a Phanatic or Mr. Met, Jack the Jackal is a successful mascot. He keeps people coming to the ballpark and keeps them tied to the franchise and the brand. Through initiatives like Jack the Jackal, the New Jersey Jackals have managed to remain relevant in a crowded sports market. Let’s face it. Does anyone remember the Sussex Skyhawks?