The first thing to know about minor-league baseball is this: it's not about baseball. Sure, the leagues are training grounds for an organization's future assets, but the decisions that determine success from the player development perspective are made exclusively by big-league front offices.
A minor-league GM is a savvy businessman, not a baseball man. Teams set as their utmost objective, not winning titles or churning out talent, but packing ballparks and building relationships with fans and local sponsors. Baseball at that level is meant to be fun for even those who do not know or understand the finer aspects of the game.
Yet fans do not pay top dollar to see minor-league games, and the ballparks in which games are played generally hold fewer than 10,000 spectators. Exploding scoreboards, luxury suites and major giveaways are not an option on minor-league budgets.
Therefore, teams use more old-fashioned methods to build excitement. Creative promotions, t-shirt cannons and bratwurst catapults are more common than in big-league parks. So, too, are mascots.
Mascots are virtually passe in the majors. Other than some of the long-time fixtures like the Philly Phanatic and San Diego Chicken, it's rare to find them working the crowds of 40,000 and up.
But in the bushes, mascots are often the heart and soul of a franchise. And some teams get really wacky when choosing them. Here are the 25 craziest mascots in the minor leagues.