Kristen Morse / Gavel Media

Behind the Beak: What It Takes to Be Boston College's Mascot

Boston College's school spirit and lively atmosphere wouldn’t be the same without the energetic, positive, and seemingly omnipresent Baldwin. Whether it’s a photo op or a crazy dance at the football game, everyone’s favorite mascot always succeeds in pumping up the crowd and putting a smile on any fan’s face.  But what about the BC students beneath the eagle suit?  To get to the bottom of what life as Baldwin is truly like, The Gavel reached out to three of the people that work tirelessly to give us the bird we all know and love. They spoke about everything from their reasons for becoming the bird to their craziest moment in the suit. Of course, the mystery behind Baldwin’s identity is part of the fun; to preserve both the magic and the integrity of these students, they will remain anonymous.  

Why did you decide to try out to be Baldwin?

Baldwin 1: So the direct story is that I was sitting in my room freshman year and got the general email about tryouts. I asked my roommate what his thoughts were to which he replied, “Yeah, it’s probably a great way to pick up girls, haha.” I learned soon after that my identity would largely be kept a secret and I’d have to find a different pick up line.

In all seriousness though, I was my high school’s mascot for two years and had been considering it. Showed up to tryouts and only one other guy was there so we both got to join and the rest is history.

Baldwin 2: I decided to try out to be Baldwin when I learned one of my friends used to do it. I had no idea they just had open tryouts where they would let anybody be Baldwin, so I asked him about how it was and he loved it. I was really involved in school spirit during high school and didn’t know how to have the same impact at BC, and this opportunity presented itself and I couldn’t pass it up.

Baldwin 3: I decided to try out because I thought it would be a really unique experience.  How often do you really get to dance around without anyone knowing it's you?  And since I like to dance, but lack any real moves, I figured I'd give the bird a shot.

What do you see as your primary goal or responsibility as Baldwin?

Baldwin 1: I see it as a way that I can represent BC in a multitude of ways. Whether that is at a sporting event, charity, or performing on the CMAs, I do my best to represent BC as best as I can. As such, when I’m in suit it’s all about making everyone’s experience better which is typically done by prancing around like a giant idiot.

Baldwin 2: My primary goal is to promote spirit, enthusiasm, involvement, and fun at any event I may be working. Whether it’s the ACC football championships or a little kid’s birthday party, I am there to put a smile on everyone’s face and pump up the positive vibes. Good energy is contagious.

Baldwin 3: It sounds dramatic, but Baldwin is the face of the university, so I feel that it is important to represent the school in the best light possible.

What has been your favorite Baldwin moment?

Baldwin 1: I’ve been blessed to have been granted a plethora of unforgettable moments. Freshman year I had Frozen Fenway, sophomore year I crowd-surfed after we beat USC, last year I was on the CMAs, and I recently just got back from a trip to Ireland. It’s pretty hard to chose one specific event but I think one of the most rewarding experiences has been that I’ve been able to meet Welles Crowther’s parents multiple times and share how much their son’s story means to me.

Baldwin 2: My favorite Baldwin moment was working the birthday party of a former BC basketball player’s child. There were around twenty 3- to 6-year-olds running around and going absolutely insane. At first, I was pretty scared. I kept thinking, “How am I gonna get out of here alive?” But it ended up being a great (but oh so tiring) time… once they were no longer scared of me, that is.

Baldwin 3: That is pretty tough.  My favorite moment would probably have to be playing a game of mascot basketball during halftime of the ACC tournament with the rest of the mascots from the conference.  Not for nothing, but I did win MVP of a basketball game on an NBA court, so Baldwin is basically Michael Jordan now.

Billy Foshay / Gavel Media

Billy Foshay / Gavel Media

What was your craziest fan encounter?

Baldwin 1: A bunch of people ask me this and I’ve never had a good answer for it. I’ve seen fellow Baldwins get punched by fans and other stuff like that.

Baldwin 2: My craziest fan encounter was when I worked an away football game. I was taking a picture with some fans when a fan of the team we were playing decided to twist my head around and push me down the stairs. It was also the most embarrassing moment I’ve had as Baldwin. But the unruly fan was quickly removed, and a bunch of the home team’s fans were super nice and helpful with getting the other guy removed and helping me get my head facing the right direction. I just felt bad for the kids who are probably scarred for life after seeing Baldwin’s head move 180 degrees.

Baldwin 3: Oddly enough it was with a dog.  I was walking around campus before an event and this dog got away from his owner and brought me its ball and wanted to play fetch with me.  I just always think of how funny it would look to see a giant bird playing fetch with a dog.  Maybe it's not CRAZY, but it was pretty funny.

What is the hardest part of being Baldwin?

Baldwin 1: The ventilation in the suit is by no means as good as some of the other mascots I’ve come across. Consequently, you sweat a lot more than a normal human being would. This isn’t the worst thing but it can be tiring and make it harder to be as high energy as you might want to be.

Baldwin 2: The SWEATING. No matter what the weather is like, it is always so hot in that suit. I am drenched every time I get out of it. And you have to worry about keeping sweat out of your eyes so that you’re not blind out there in a giant bird costume.

Baldwin 3: Man, oh man, does it get hot in that suit. There have been games where I have had to change my shirt three times because I sweat so much.

What steps do you take to pump up the crowd when BC is losing?

Baldwin 1: Depends on how much we’re losing by... If we’re down and it’s close it’s generally pretty easy to get them involved and loud as they’re still connected at that point. If the game is closer to a blowout you basically just do the best you can to keep the fans engaged. A lot comes from dancing like a goon or messing around with the fans. Basically anything that can make fans laugh or feel good is employed.

Baldwin 2: I love getting up into the stands and engaging with the crowd. Most people are really welcoming, and its always fun to mess around with unsuspecting fans. It’s a great way to remind people that the game is about enjoying yourself, not just about winning.

Baldwin 3: Luckily, even when we are losing, people seem to get excited about taking pictures with Baldwin, so I usually just make it a point to visit as many fans in the stands as possible and make the loss slightly more bearable.

What is one thing you want BC students to know about the world from Baldwin's perspective?

Baldwin 1: If I’m ever running away from you at a game it’s not that I don’t want to take a picture with you. There’s just some place I need to be and taking one picture with you opens up a floodgate of pictures I can’t escape from. 

Baldwin 2: Most of the time, I am only looking at feet because the head pushes so low on my face. So if I miss your high five, please don’t take it personally.

Baldwin 3: We appreciate when you show up to games.  It sounds really simple, but given the recent history of our sports teams, attendance definitely dips at points. What good is a mascot if there is no one for him to pump up?

If you could be any mascot other than Baldwin, who would you be?

Baldwin 1: There’s a relatively interesting mascot community. [I am] currently in a GroupMe with 340 other college mascots, so I’ve gotten to meet a whole gaggle of characters. Still, I think someone like the Virginia Cavalier is someone who I’d like to be if I wasn’t Baldwin. There’s pretty similar characteristics involved and you get to do a lot of running around making a fool of yourself.

Baldwin 2: Probably LSU’s Mike the Tiger. Mainly because it is an authentic, real-life tiger. How cool would that be?

Baldwin 3: That one is easy—Mr. Met! I grew up in New Jersey as a huge Mets fan, so Mr. Met has a spot in my heart.  Maybe I should send my resume in to the organization... I definitely have the qualifications and experience!

Follow @BCGavelSports on Twitter for the latest updates on Boston College athletics. 

Comments

Jill Cusick