By Ron Matz

BALTIMORE (WJZ)—You see them in costume but rarely get a look at the people inside. They’re the mascots of Baltimore’s pro and college sports teams.

Ron Matz has more on your chance to go behind the mask this weekend.

You probably don’t recognize Lyle McCollum. But in his other life you do.

“I worked for the Hiroshima Carp baseball team in Japan for two years as their mascot. It’s a completely different atmosphere over there, but a lot of fun. The fans are loud and fun and crazy. The crowd gets into it at all times,” he said.

For the past eight seasons he’s been the Oriole bird.

“You’ve got the big shoes. You can work with the tail. You’ve got the bird’s beak you can put on people’s heads. There’s a lot of different things you can do with different parts of the costume to make it come alive,” McCollum said.

Saturday’s Meet the Mascot Day at Sports Legends Museum is a unique chance to see Poe and others in costume and out.

“We’ll start with a panel discussion with the men out of costume. They’ll talk about the hazards of being a mascot and what you need to do to be a mascot. It’s become a major art now. It’s not just putting on a costume and running around,” said John Ziemann, Sports Legends Museum.

It is an art wearing size 22 shoes and a tougher gig than you think.

“You’ve gotta go and be safe, professional and entertaining all at the same time, and if you do all three of those you’ll be a successful mascot I think,” McCollum said.

“We’re going to have the college mascots too: Doc from Towson University, Wild Stang from Stevenson. We also have Louie from Bowie, the Bowie Bay Sox. We’ll also have Poe from the Ravens. They’ll entertain the people,” Ziemann said.

It’s a nice way to go behind the mask.

“I’m looking forward to it. I had a great time with it last year, getting to speak publicly out of costume. It’s not something that we do that often. It was a lot of fun getting to hear some of the questions the people had and being able to answer them,” McCollum said.

Saturday’s Meet the Mascots program at Sports Legends Museum begins at 1 p.m. It’s free with the price of admission.

“Last year was a major success,” Ziemann said. “Bring your camera for photo ops. You can come in and take photographs and have a good time and enjoy the museum.”

Fans will also have a chance Saturday to meet the Ravens real life birds, Rise and Conquer, courtesy of the Maryland Zoo.


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