Friday, September 11, 2009

The Yella Fella

A Capitol Broadcasting alumnus has passed on and we send our condolences to his family in Myrtle Beach.

Dinger "The Home Run Dog" - beset by heart and kidney problems - died this week. The yellow lab was the Myrtle Beach Pelicans beloved mascot. Capitol founded the Pelicans in 1998. The team's first GM, Steve Malliet, persuaded me to buy this very expensive, bred-for-show biz canine. Dinger premiered as a puppy...garnered tons of publicity...and won the hearts of local Pelicans fans and visitors to the Grand Strand.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so we later recruited his relative Scout for the Durham Bulls, and today we count Lucky "The Wonder the Dog" among our mascots.

When we sold the Pelicans several years ago there was a big discussion about who would get custody of Dinger, but I knew he belonged at the the ballpark. (And I assume he was a fully depreciated asset by then!?!)

Yes, he was a good investment, but Dinger was a truly great dog. Richard Graves penned this tribute:

Dinger was more than a mascot; he became the identifying figure for the Pelicans over his 10 year career. Fans would return for their annual trip to the beach, and one of the first questions they asked when buying tickets was “Do you guys still have that dog that takes balls to the umpire?”

Dinger was not always the most courteous host as he was known to steal the occasional hot dog, pretzel, chicken finger or pretty much anything he could snack on from a poor unsuspecting child that happened to hold it within Dinger’s reach. He didn’t reserve his food theft to just fans; he was also guilty of stealing food from anyone in the office that happened to leave anything within his striking distance. Dinger was friends with anyone, but he quickly became your best friend if you happened to be snacking on something he thought he wanted.

Despite his scavenging charm Dinger did his job and he did it well. He performed his antics on the field without complaints on a nightly basis. Where Dinger may have excelled the most though was in his hospitality duties. He was always open for a pat and belly rub to anyone that would take the time. He would often amaze dog owners that were visiting with his ability to sit and stay with a large number of people being around him and touching him. He was a very patient and tolerant soul.

That patience would have its limits though. One of Dinger’s biggest loves was playing ball. He was obsessive when it came to fetching a ball for anyone that was willing to give it a throw or kick. If you decided to take a break before Dinger was ready he would continue to stare intently at the ball and kick at you until you eventually broke down and resumed the game.

Dinger was never a member of the roster, though he did have his own baseball card, but he was as vital a part of a Pelicans home game as the starting pitcher. Dinger will certainly be missed and his spirit will always be a presence at BB&T Coastal Field.