Clever promotion from the Lake Elsinore Storm (High A; California League): Ace, The Fastest Squirrel in the World has challenged The Freeze, from the Atlanta Braves, to a run-off to determine the fastest racing mascot in all of baseball.
The Freeze — in real life, Atlanta Braves grounds-crew member Nigel Talton — has become a phenomenon at Braves home games at SunTrust Park, taking on fans in a between-innings promo, racing from foul pole to foul pole. He’s been featured heavily in the press, and some celebrities. including Lolo Jones, have expressed an interest in racing The Freeze.
The Freeze now has a new challenger: Ace, The Fastest Squirrel in the World. Ace has been appearing at Thursday through Sunday home game for the last six years, delighting Storm fans with his speed. Interestingly, this is the last baseball season for Ace. After close to 400 career races, Ace (real name: Eric Theiss), the former two-time All-American and 1600m Relay National Champion while at SUNY-Oneonta, will retire on Aug. 19, when he will be recognized with his own bobbletail giveaway.
One thing remains for Ace, though: a race with The Freeze.
“It would be a great way to close out my last season and highlight his first,” Ace said in a press release. “I can see the Padres and Storm fans really getting behind it. The challenge could only bring great exposure to both clubs and would really show sports fans how much fun a ballpark atmosphere can be.”
The promotion has been sponsored by the Lake Elsinore Casino, offering $500 if he or she can beat Ace. That has happened twice.
The challenge was made with a dollop of good humor, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune:
If anything, Theiss considers the two kindred spirits of sorts.
“I honestly love what they’re doing in Atlanta,” Theiss said. “There’s nobody else I can relate to like that. He’s a track athlete. I root for him. I mean, if you’re not making Olympics as a track athlete and you love track and field, what else are you doing?”…
“Fans dug it right away,” said Theiss, who now doubles as a communications director with the Storm. “They thought it was funny and it really took on a life of its own.”
Image courtesy Lake Elsinore Storm.