The scene: Comiskey Park, Chicago. The early 1980's. During a White Sox game between innings, a song plays over the PA system. A young Claire Zulkey steps onto the opposing team's dugout and does a happy dance. It is probably adorable? She is shortly joined by White Sox mascots Ribbie and Roobarb (who are not long for this world.) The scene is captured by the stadium camera and projected onto the scoreboard. Young Claire's joy turns to terror and embarrassment and she decides that this is too much for her. She pushes her way past a plush mascot (knocking him/her/it over in the processe) and returns to her seat, red-faced. Her parents remind her of this for the rest of her life.
The scene: Schaumberg Boomers stadium, Schaumberg. Summer 2017. Shortly before a Schaumber Boomers/Lake Erie Crushers matchup, a young Paul Delahoyde (son of Claire Zulkey) encounters Coop, the Boomers' prairie chicken mascot. Will history repeat itself? No. Paul takes to Coop and even "feeds" him/her/it a piece of popcorn. It is adorable. But then: someone from the team approaches Paul with a microphone and offers him the chance to say "play ball!" to the entire stadium. Paul's parents are thrilled. Paul says no. Paul's parents encourage him and he only digs in deeper. The job goes to another child, although, predictably, Paul changes his mind (to no avail) shortly before the game begins. His parents plan to remind him of this for the rest of his life.