Not many people can say their sister is an eyeball. Even fewer can claim that their female sibling derives income from the position. I, however, am of the privileged who can boast, for Shannon (my sister) routinely dons the role of an eyeball as a part-time job. I am proud to continue in the facts that Shannon is not only an eyeball, not only a professional eyeball, but a professional eyeball with credit to her name. She is exceptional; as exceptional as an eyeball can be, that is.
Shannon works on the on-field promotions team for the West Michigan Whitecaps baseball team, and one of her responsibilities is to be “the eyeball” for the eyeball race (a promotional tool for a local optometry office) that takes place in between innings. For those of you who haven’t had the opportunity to witness the event, the race involves three people from the promo team wearing giant inflatable costumes that each look like an eyeball. The “eyeballs” then race around the baseball diamond while the mascots attempt to get in their way, topple them over, etc. While this might seem like a carefree event to the fans, the ritual is nothing short of horrifying for the victims inside the eyeball. Talk about seeing something from another point of view!
Shannon’s anxiety of the great eyeball race has decreased as she’s gained experience and come to know the guys who play the mascots, whom she claims try to be gentle with the more timid “eyeballettes.” However, things got bad fast when Shannon went to work the 50th Midwest League All-Star Game a couple weeks ago. Since the game involved many teams, someone decided that it would be great if all of the mascots from the different teams were on the field during the eyeball race, making a joint effort to knock down the poor peepers. Shannon was scheduled to be an eyeball that day, so with bated breath she crept to the edge of the field to size-up the mascots she’d be up against. Later, when Shannon told the story to our family, she described her competition in detail. I’ve never heard her use the word “terrifying” so many times within five minutes.
Here’s who my sister was up against:
Johnny – The name is innocent, alluding to a Johnny Appleseed figure, but his excessive grin alarming enough to scare off Norman Bates suggests otherwise.
The Big Lug – The name says it all, but if you want to conjure up even more nightmarish images, picture a terrifying version of Barney… like, Barney with blue chicken pox and nose piercings in each nostril. Yikes. Don’t expect the I Love You song from him!
Lou E. – A bird with vampire eyes, matchstick legs, and a beer belly, the last being most grotesque, as Shannon claims this fiendish fowl to have the biggest fat pad she’s ever seen.
Fang – Direct quote from Shannon: “Fang was the most disgusting color of yellow I’ve ever seen in life. I mean, he was a rattlesnake with arms and legs. Need I say more?” She’s right, what could be worse than a vision of Satan before the curse?
Fast forward to race time, and Shannon was inside the eyeball costume, waiting for her team members to open the gate. (Note that this costume is so large, it exceeds her wingspan. Picture being trapped inside a giant beach ball with a harness attached to your torso and battery packs on your hips, and the only line of sight being a pupil about three feet in front of you. Not exactly a comfortable situation.)
Once the gate was open, Shannon stared out the pupil at the mascots, bracing herself for an announcement she expected to sound something like, “Let the 75th Hunger Games begin!”
In no time, she was off, bravely dodging Johnny, The Big Lug, and Lou E. as she raced around the diamond. Looming in front of her was Fang, but as he lunged toward her, she stopped abruptly in her path, a cunning move that sent Fang soaring past his attempted target. In the end Shannon won the race, proving what I mentioned before: she is not only a professional eyeball, but has the bravery and intelligence to do what it takes to win, even in the face of danger. Way to go, Shannon!
Shannon and the other eyeballs also have a new appreciation for their own mascots: Crash the River Rascal and Frankie the Swimming Pig. What could be cuter than a giant chipmunk and a smiling pig with an inner-tube around his waist? So it’s happily ever after for the West Michigan Whitecaps on-field promotion eyeballs… that is, until next year’s All-Star Game. May the odds be ever in their favor!