They’re the three mascot musketeers, a trio of baseball-loving 20-somethings who go home every night from Cashman Field thankful for the powers of Febreze to knock down the pungent smell of sweat.
Of all the entertainment gigs in Sin City, donning a 25-pound costume to play an alien mascot for the Las Vegas 51s baseball team in 100-degree heat is not the most lucrative pursuit at 75 bucks per game.
But for the three amigos who play Cosmo at 51s games, it’s all about drawing a smile from the kid who wants a high-five or a hearty chortle from the older fan who gets a rubdown on his bald pate.
Your 51s mascot line-up: First-stringer Dusty Erickson, 25, of Henderson, who works pest control by day and plays Cosmo for 36 of the 51s’ 72 home games. He alternates with second-string Stephen White, 22, of Las Vegas, a Wells Fargo bank teller who is Cosmo for 30 games. Then, there’s third-stringer Jay Basile, 24, of Henderson, a personal banker for US Bank who suits up a half-dozen times a season.
Erickson is the tallest at 6 feet 3 inches, with a super-close buzz cut. White is about 6 feet tall with a faux mohawk. And Basile stands 5 feet 9 inches with classic banker hair.
“The season ticket-holders can tell when it’s the short Cosmo,” Erickson quipped.
They’re three very different looking guys playing one very funky-looking alien, a mascot who reminds people of the Jar Jar Binks character from Star Wars, or a “giant lobster with floppy ears,” as one pint-sized little girl said at a recent 51s game.
“Cosmo? He goofs around. He’s a prankster. He does what he wants, when he wants, where he wants because he’s the mascot,” Erickson said. “That’s the fun part. But he also has a gentler side. He has a good time taking pictures with kids, bringing joy to kids. Most kids smile.”
Indeed, Cosmo relishes goofing on the older fans. He’ll take their food from someone or sometimes massage the top of a hairless head.
“It’s fun messing with fans, players and umpires,” White said.
White, the only unmarried guy of the trio, said Cosmo also likes the ladies.
“It’s not cheating if it’s mascot sex,” he intones.
White did say that Cosmo draws the line at autographing breasts, an occasional request.
“We’re not allowed to sign skin, so no boobies,” he said.
But sometimes fans are not so loving toward Cosmo. The big puffy alien creature has been punched, kicked, speared, elbowed, tackled and dropkicked through the years, they said.
The current Cosmo outfit is only its second season, but Las Vegas’ furnace-blast summers take their toll.
The threesome employ healthy doses of Febreze to mitigate the costume’s powerful sweaty odors as well as an airing out an dry with a box fan.
At the end of each homestand the Cosmo gear gets dry-cleaned.
“We have to fumigate the costume after every homestand,” noted Don Logan, 51s executive vice president.
Mascots have a proud history in professional baseball with luminaries such as the San Diego Chicken, the Phillie Phanatic and Mr. Met. But the three guys playing Cosmo don’t aspire to the Big Leagues.
Basile is happy to stay in banking.
Erickson wants to pursue a police, fire or EMS career, while White is interested in law enforcement or corrections work, but wouldn’t say no to the right offer.
“If some Major League team offered me a mascot job for $100,000, I’d take it,” White said.
That won’t happen any time soon. Mascot jobs in The Show are hard to get and extremely competitive, said John Routh, a South Florida resident who played the Billy the Marlin mascot for the Miami Marlins from 1993-2002.
And the game is constantly changing. Routh said he’s noticed a mascot trend in Major League Baseball where the characters are spending less time on the playing field pulling off entertaining shticks in favor of visiting with fans in the stands.
“They’ve gotten away from mascot entertainment. Sadly, it has gone away,” said Routh, the executive director for the University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame.
Mascot life is different in the minors because the characters are usually played by part-time employees or full-time workers who play the mascot on the side, said Jason Franke, assistant general manager for sales and marketing for the Nashville Sounds of the Pacific Coast League.
Franke, who worked as the Elvee mascot from 1994-96 when the 51s were known as the Las Vegas Stars, said it’s unusual that three people would share mascot duties.
But the mascot-by-committee works well for the 51s because Erickson, White and Basile are content with their Cosmo work hours and get along well. The threesome also play Cosmo at off-stadium venues such as the Denny’s restaurant on Fremont Street, the Christmas Parade in Boulder City and Fourth of July activities in Summerlin.
“It’s a fun job. You come here, blow off steam after a day’s work,” White said. “And the pay gives us gas money.”
Contact reporter Alan Snel at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-5273.