Slider, who celebrates his 20th season as mascot for the Rochester Honkers (who open their 23rd season on May 31). In Slider’s honor, we’re taking a look back at some former Q&As with the seven-foot tall mascot, who sports a 11’3/8-inch hat size.
Rochester Magazine: Where are you from originally?
Slider: A warehouse in the Twin Cities.
RM: Are you married?
S: Yes, but Mrs. Slider likes to keep a low profile.
RM: Any children?
RM: Was it tough, as a kid, having an oversized head?
S: Well, not really any tougher than it is now. Sometimes I make appearances at places with playgrounds, and it is frustrating trying to go down an enclosed slide. I’ve almost gotten stuck a few times. And I still bang my head on low doorways. Ouch.
RM: Do you make appearances at hospitals?
S: Yes, I do. I have done a few of those, as well as at the Ronald McDonald House. I’ve also been to churches, school events, carnivals … a little bit of everything.
RM: Do you have a story about one particular kid that you seemed to affect in a positive way?
S: There is one boy who has been coming to games regularly for as long as I can remember. He is one of my biggest fans, and is always excited to see me. Maybe 12 years ago, I started making appearances at his birthday parties, and I still go every year. Most years we go bowling, and it’s a blast. Even with bumpers, I am lucky to break 100.
RM: What’s the weirdest question you get asked?
S: “Are you a guy or a girl?” Repeat five million times. Also, during rain delays, people ask “What time is it going to stop raining?” Repeat five million times.
RM: What’s two to the fifth power?
S: My jersey number plus two.
RM: Your jersey number is 30, right?
RM: Then, yes! You’re correct!
RM: What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever signed?
S: It’s hard to say, but I never understand why kids want their foreheads autographed. They can’t even see it unless they look in the mirror or have their picture taken, and it’s just going to wash off. Why not get something permanent?
RM: My kids get their foreheads signed almost every game.
RM: It’s been 15 years, but I still have to bring it up: Tell me about your fight with Woody the Woodchuck.
S: To make a long story short, he blindsided me right after we were introduced at the 1998 All-Star Game in Brainerd. [Woody the Woodchuck tackled Slider and wrested him into a headlock, attempting to wrench Slider’s baseball head off.] I fought back and took him down a couple of times, but lost my head in the process. I ended up winning the fight, and he got kicked out of the game for “performing in a manner that NWL mascots are not supposed to perform.”
RM: Did you really win? Because I always hear the Wisconsin fans yell “Woody [the Woodchuck] beat you up!”
S: Please. Anyone who was there should know who won, and I have a picture, newspaper article, and videotape to prove it. The fight is on YouTube—you should check it out. Seriously.
RM: Wait. OK. I just watched it. I’ll give you the clear win at the end. (And check out Rochester Magazine’s Facebook page for the link.)
RM: I guess if you’re going to have a giant head, it’s advantageous that it’s a baseball. I mean, for mascotting.
S: Hey look. … someone made a joke about me having a big head. Where are you going with this?
RM: Sorry. You’re right. I wouldn’t have asked that of anyone else. I apologize.
RM: So, what would you be doing if you weren’t a mascot?
S: I have no idea. I was born to be a mascot. I can’t imagine doing anything else. I mean, even if I weren’t working for the Honkers, I’d still be a mascot, right? Or does that not fit the definition of being a mascot? Now I’m just confused.
RM: Tell me about your pregame routine.
S: After getting ready in the locker room, I like to get out on the field maybe 15 minutes or so before the first pitch. I usually sign autographs for the youth baseball dream team, and then I high-five the fans sitting close to the field, and along the deck. After that, I’ll stretch behind home plate, shake hands with the umpires, pump up the crowd during the player introductions, and then stand with the team along the first base line for the National Anthem. Then I’ll huddle with the guys before they take the field, and get my dance on after being introduced.
RM: What are some of the coolest things you’ve gotten to do as a mascot?
S: Well, the night I was introduced [on opening day of 1997], I got to ride in a Carrier van (which strangely didn’t have working air conditioning) with Kent Hrbek, so that was fun. Riding in the golf cart is pretty cool, and I did get to drive the Honkers Hummer to an appearance once. It was also pretty sweet to be on the field for NWL Day at the Dome a few years ago. And then there was last season, when the Diamond Dolls incorporated me into one of their dances. That was just awesome.
RM: How often do kids punch you?
S: More often than I’d like to think about, although honestly it’s not too bad. It kind of depends on where I get punched.
RM: Who is the better boss, Dan Litzinger or Kim Archer? I’m going to guess you’ll say Kim.
S: Well, she IS the one who signs my paychecks … but Dan is the one who offered me the job. Honestly, they are both great bosses
RM: Way to work both sides.