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Hank Watches the San Diego Padres

from The Reeducation of a Turd Peddler
by John Henry Peabody

“I like the friar because he’s always smiling
and hitting it over the fence,” said fan
Susan Baird. “He represents San Diego:
Nice people, but we can kick butt when
we have to.”
— Sports Illustrated, 1998

I CAUGHT THE San Diego Padres playing the Dodgers on the local Fox affiliate this afternoon. The Padres’ mascot was a squat, Styrofoam likeness of a Mission Padre, complete with the tonsure, or shaved dome, brown robe, rope for a belt and sandals—Fred Flinstone meets Junipero Serrra.
  Known as the “Swinging Friar,” there was more than a whiff of Walt Disney putting together a California Mission ride at Disneyland.
  To the tune of “It’s A Small World (After All)” the music, sung by white-frocked neophytes in brown face, might go:

“It’s a SPAN-ish MISS-ion world.
It’s a SPAN-ish MISS-ion world!
It’s a SPAN-ish MISH—shun Worrrrrrld.”

  Down the road a movie with good looking, young San Gabriel Indians falling in love—from separate tribes—might fit neatly between “Little Mermaid” and “Beauty and the Beast.” They run off together as the chaste friars and concerned aboriginal but Caucasion-drawn parents try to stop them: Arithmetically, “Ramona” times “Romeo and Juliet” divided by “Island of the Blue Dolphins.”
  As the little guy waddled around, leading the stands in folksy cheers, calling on every bit of charisma his awkward likeness could muster, this Major League Baseball mascot struck me as a cultural coup, part history and part Saturday morning cartoon character, with his jutting chin and overly sunny disposition, shagging balls and dolloping salsa on plates of Nachos.
  And a swinging friar no less? With a name like that, a little guy from Mallorca who was two centuries shy of American baseball and couldn’t even conjure the kind of world he was initiating, was—by virtue of being a team mascot—enabled to not only hit home runs, even ground-out singles—but enjoy drinks and romantic dalliances with his swinger badge making way.
  Watching names at bat flash across the screen, it made sense to me that Padres baseball had guys named Ramirez, Takasano and O’Hara playing for them. One day, a guy named Hiro McCarthur might be a great pitcher playing for a Japanese franchise. I imagine him being of European descent but fully Japanese, culturally and linguistically. This McCarthur short stop, playing for Yokohama, could also be a Hapa Haoli: his father American and “white,” his mother Japanese, etcetera, vice versa, or inside-out. The Padres will pick him up and the rest will be the colonial math any one who drives down Highway 101 can do any day of the week, in or our of baseball season.


The Swinging Friar

The Tonsure

San Diego Padres


Island of the Blue Dolphins

From Wikipedia

More Dolphin Stuff


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