It’s a beautiful night at the Sam Lynn Ball Park. The air is cool, and a breeze is ruffling through the crowd.
But for Kimberly Navarro, Blaze Rookie, it’s blisteringly hot.
Stifled by the woolen Bakersfield Blaze mascot uniform, she leaps across the field, waving at fans and generally being, despite the heat, the most enthusiastic person there.
She’s been the Blaze Dog for a year now and “hugely hot” is how she describes her job.
Currently earning her real estate license while working as a broker’s assistant, Navarro came to mascot tryouts at the urging of her children, Keisha, 19, and Tanner, 11.
“‘You should do it, you should do it, you’d be so good at it,'” she said, recalling their support.
It’s not as if she hasn’t had any experience dressing in giant, heat-retaining costumes for the enjoyment of others.
Navarro participates in the costume ministry at her church, Valley Bible Fellowship, where she dons a similar costume and greets people at the service.
Baseball runs in the family. Keisha, her daughter, works at the Dip N Dots stand. Her son, Tanner, has played baseball for eight years. He also collects cracked bats, a collection which Navarro easily adds to.
With the change in Blaze management, she hopes to do a wider variety of skits.
“We’re going to be able to do a lot more stuff,” she said, excited about future prospects.
But even mascots have sick days. That’s where Justin Ahart comes in.
Currently a BC student, he was oothill’s Trojan mascot while in high school.
He also auditioned for the position of Blaze Rookie and part-time mascot.
His motivation? “I love kids,” he said.
Being a Rookie means coordinating the Chip of the Game, Tricycle Race, seventh inning stretch, and T-shirt tosses, among other crowd-pleasing events.
Ahart agrees with Navarro on the biggest challenge in being a mascot.
“It’s hot. It’s very hot.”