By: Josh Jackson
Early Monday morning, rumors had surfaced in the local Fresno media that a trade had been approved that would send Grizzlies mascot, Parker, to another team in the PCL. The trade deadline had already come and gone on July 31st at 4:00 p.m. ET, but a few media entities were speculating that a deal had been reached prior to the deadline.
Many were skeptical of these rumors at first. After all, Parker is known across Minor League Baseball as the hardest working bear in all of the Central Valley. It was hard for people to grasp the concept of the Grizzlies letting go of one of their most valuable assets. In fact, after initial trade rumors had been reported and word spread via Twitter, PCL opponents Tacoma and Sacramento publicly denied involvement in any mascot trading with the Fresno Grizzlies, adding to further skepticism amongst the public.
The local Fresno media remained hot on the story, as the paparazzi were able to catch Parker at the Greyhound Bus Station Downtown Monday afternoon. He was seen purchasing a ticket to Reno, Nevada, which greatly intensified the trade rumors. Media sources tried to get a confirmation from the Reno Aces that a mascot trade agreement had been reached between the two organizations, however Aces executives remained silent throughout the process.
Fans filed into Chukchansi Park on Monday night fearing the worst. On-field MC Travis Sheridan introduced Parker to the fans as usual, and the furry celebrity rode in on his yellow ATV from the center field gate. He waved to the fans as he made his way around the warning track. “Parker Protocol” is to stop behind home plate and interact with the fans and players for the duration of pregame. This time was different though, as Parker continued his way around the warning track and back out through center field, wearing a Hawaiian shirt and not the usual Grizzlies jersey, waving to his beloved fans along the way. Some could not believe it, but for the time being it seemed like Fresno had seen the last of their furry friend.
To the relief of Grizzlies fans and the Central Valley as a whole, it was announced after the second inning that Parker would be staying in Fresno. The rumors had stemmed from Parker’s attempts to ship Dereks Franks, his hot dog-slinging arch-nemesis mascot, to Reno. There has been a lot of tension between the two ever since their confrontation with each other on Mascot Wrestling Night back on July 23. Sources say that Parker has been secretly shopping Franks on the trade market for the past week or so. It wasn’t until just a couple days ago that Parker found a suitor for Franks. In return for their new hot dog mascot, Reno agreed to send Parker a new super hero outfit, a box of silly string and a marketing intern, a nice return for the bear.
The deal appeared to be done, however the trade was never finalized due to some clerical shortcomings on Parker’s behalf. All of the paperwork had been completed, but Parker failed to fax it off to the league in time for approval. It turns out that the 12-game homestand had fatigued Fresno’s favorite bear significantly, who has been in need of some power hibernation lately. Following Saturday night’s contest against Reno, Parker intended on getting some extra sleep to prepare for the final three games of the series. This plan backfired, as Parker slept straight through the trade deadline and did not get approval from the league in time.
When all was said and done, Parker figured he would have to deal with Dereks Franks for at least one more year. “Things will not always turn out the way you want to this time of year,” Parker explained through an interpreter. “Dereks Franks and I will continue to try to work through our personal vendettas against one another in order to put on a great show for our fans. We just want to move forward from here.” Time will only tell what the fallout will be from Parker’s antics. One thing that we can be sure of: it will be highly entertaining.