For two decades, he has entertained sports fans as the lovable mascot of the Seattle Mariners baseball team. A furry, family-friendly biped who defies the laws of physics imposed upon his species, he has spent the past twenty years in the national spotlight, bringing joy to seemingly everyone he encounters.
But it hasn’t been an easy road for this entertainer.
Drugs, sex, alcohol, gang violence, and one life-altering incident mark the path this creature has walked down. Fun and games? That’s only half the tale. You know him as the Mariner Moose. This is his True Hollywood Story.
Born on a spring morning in 1974, the Moose grew up in Washington State’s Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. His mother and father were killed just weeks after his birth, the result of two resounding shotgun blasts that would turn the newborn into an orphan before he could even walk.
“There weren’t a lot of us [moose] living in the area at the time,” said the Moose. “I hung around quite a few deer growing up, and even made friends with squirrels and rabbits. At an early age, I ran with a rough crowd.”
By the age of six, the Moose was part of a local gang of forest dwellers that wreaked havoc on Mother Nature. The group was notorious for, among other things, starting forest fires.
“I remember the first time I got my hands on an aim-n-flame,” the Moose recalled. “I was seven at the time. The rush was indescribable. It changed my life forever.”
During his formative years, the Moose and his gang patrolled the forest terrorizing the elderly, sparking wildfires, and getting in fights with bears. But at the of age nine, the Moose’s world would change forever thanks to one life-altering run-in with a hunter.
“I remember it like it was yesterday,” he said. “I was hanging out with my crew, we were minding our own business…then we heard the shots. Everyone scattered. But I — I don’t know, I guess I didn’t move fast enough or something. I remember getting hit. I remember the pain. I remember collapsing. I remember waking up in my friend’s cave. And I remember trying to speak, and not being able to. It was the worst moment of my life.”
Shot twice in the larynx, the Moose had lost the ability to speak. His vocal chords were severed. He had become a mute. Twenty-five years later, he speaks only through sign language and with the assistance of an interpreter. His silence, however, has only strengthened him.
“Am I hero? No, I don’t think so. There are millions of folks in this world who can’t speak. I’m nothing special. Just a moose. A moose who’s lucky to be alive.”
It was this incident that prompted the Moose to turn his life around. Not yet ten years old, the Moose left his gang behind and became a nomad, wandering the mountains alone.
Five years after his brush with death, the Moose would wind up having his very existence altered once again, this time thanks to the accident that had nearly killed him.
“I was walking through the forest one day when a man in a suit came up to me. My first instinct was to run. I had been taught to fear humans. But this man was different. He seemed safe. He approached me cautiously, then asked if I could understand him. I nodded. He was surprised to find out that I knew English, but English had been my second language growing up, right after Latin. He asked me if I would come with him to an audition. He promised me free food, a warm bed, and the prospect of a job. Having never ventured beyond the treeline before, I was intrigued. I took the man up on his offer and embarked on the journey of a lifetime.”
The mysterious man in the suit was Johnson Cummings, a scout for the Seattle Mariners. Sent to search for the team’s new mascot, Cummings’ quest had brought him to the forests east of Seattle.
“I was just starting out as a scout for the ballclub at the time,” said Cummings. “As the newest member on staff, the team gave me the task of finding a moose to represent the organization. See, we had held this contest prior to the 1990 season asking kids 14 and under to help us choose a mascot. Of course, no one wanted us to choose a dog or a cat or even a parakeet, which would have made my life a whole hell of a lot easier. Instead, some kid from Ferndale won the damn thing by suggesting a moose. And so here I am walking through brush and trees when I run into the moose who would become the Mariner Moose. History was made. Boom. Right there.”
The Moose met with the front office of the Seattle Mariners, who quickly determined that he was exactly what they were looking for. His inability to speak made him that much more of an attractive commodity. They handed him a jersey and told him to get to work.
Drugs, Sex, and Rock and Roll
Just 16 years old when he first pranced atop a big league dugout, the Moose was essentially handed the keys to a brand new Ferrari and instructed to drive as fast as he possibly could.
“The Mariners were pretty Godawful when I started working for them,” the Moose admitted. “Fans weren’t showing up to the ballpark and the team was in desperate need of a spark. They told me to do whatever it took to win over the fan base. And so I did.”
He danced, and leaped, and roller-bladed his way into fans’ hearts. On his off days he trained, running for hours at a time on a treadmill, then lifting weights with a conditioning coach by his side. He quickly packed on muscle. But even that wasn’t enough to keep him going through the long haul of a major league season. He needed something more.
“Did I do steroids?” ponders the Moose. “I guess if you call working out really hard and occasionally sticking a needle in your buttocks doing steroids, then I suppose I might have done that once or twice. But don’t get me wrong, you can’t replace hard work. And I was working my ass off.”
Hard work or not, the Moose was rapidly being drawn down a dark path. A path riddled by drug use. It started with performance-enhancers, then led to something much worse.
“The strike year of ’94 was tough for me,” proclaimed the Moose. “There was no paycheck rolling in, no games to be played. I was 20 years old, in the prime of my life, and left with a bunch of free time. So I started smoking weed.”
Thanks to a cousin who lived in British Columbia, the Moose was privy to some of the best natural herb on earth. He began lighting up once a day, then twice a day, and by the time the start of the 1995 season rolled around, he was high twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
“You might recall that the ’95 season started late because of the strike,” he said. “I didn’t get into the right kind of shape prior to that. I figured the players might be on strike for two, three years. When play resumed, I was still feeling the effects of my pot usage. That’s when I made the switch to cocaine.”
Convinced by a friend that cocaine would give him the energy he needed to do his job, the Moose began snorting several lines of pure white stuff every day.
“I have a pretty big nose,” the Moose said, “so, you know…one thing led to another. Pretty soon I was packing in 30, 40 lines a day. It felt great though. I mean, we made the playoffs for the first time in our history, so it couldn’t have been all bad.”
Indeed, the ’95 Mariners had a magnificent run to playoff glory, fueled in large part by the performance of their effervescent mascot. But even with all of the success, the outlook was far from rosy for the 21-year-old Moose.
By 1996, the effects of cocaine abuse were beginning to take their toll on the Mariners’ mascot.
“I stopped sleeping,” he remarked. “And I was pretty strung out. I had a bad habit of running around the locker room naked after victories, sack-tapping all the players as a practical joke. Not everyone liked it though. Towards the end of the year, Mark Whiten beat the [expletive] out of me. Then, later on, Jamie Moyer sat me down and explained that I needed to change my ways. I blew him off, though. I was younger than these guys, more popular, cooler. I was a bigshot. I didn’t need their advice.”
Despite the side effects of his drug usage, the Moose was still a hit with fans. Especially those young, female fans.
“I had sex with at least 700 different women in ’96,” the Moose stated matter-of-factly. “Some nights, I’d take home 12 or 13 girls and we’d have a great time together. I’m not trying to brag. This is just the way it was for me. Everyone wanted a piece of the Mariner Moose. Did I remember all of their names? No. Did I carry out a long-term relationship with any of them? No. Did we have fun? Hell yeah, we did.”
Fun or no fun, the Moose was quickly becoming too big for his britches. Ultimately, the drugs, the sex, and the ever-increasing ego would play a significant role in his forthcoming demise.
The Fall and The Rise
“They found me passed out on First Avenue, naked.”
Fighting back tears, this is the hardest part of our story for the Moose to discuss.
“I had gone on a five-day drug and alcohol binge. I must have slept with 50, 60 women in that span alone. And probably three or four guys, too. They took me to the hospital, and when I woke up they told me I had a handful of sexually transmitted diseases that I had never even heard of before. Some of these diseases had never been discovered until that moment. They told me that the human-to-moose cross-breeding had caused these diseases to emerge. I don’t know. I guess you can call it bestiality. But they were willing, and I was willing…call it what you want, I guess.”
We caught up with one woman, an exotic dancer named Star, who had partied excessively with the Moose during his binge.
“You know, we were just young and having a good time,” Star recalled. “The Moose probably went a little too far. In between the drugs he was asking people to do the wave with him. I don’t think he ever had pants on over the course of that week. And then finally he stormed out of the house, angry because someone had told him to put some pants on. The next morning, the cops found him asleep on the street.”
Riddled with health problems, the Moose checked himself into rehab in November, 1996. In the fight of his life, he turned a corner, bettering his livelihood and walking back into the world three months later as a changed man.
“They say that rehab is for quitters, but I felt like I was just getting started,” he emoted. “I had been perpetuating a reckless lifestyle. I was still young. I still had time to turn things around. I felt then that rehab really made a difference.”
After making it back in time for the start of the 1997 season, the Moose enjoyed some of the best years of his life. Over the next decade, he would enjoy a clean, safe, and sober livelihood. During that span, the Mariners would enjoy a prolonged run of success that saw them make the postseason on three different occasions: 1997, 2000, and 2001.
“When the Mariners were winning, I was feeling great,” the Moose explained. “Nothing could stop me. Those one-handed push-ups I did on top of the dugout? Girls loved that stuff. That must have gotten me laid at least a thousand times, no joke. I could do anything and the fans loved it. They loved it because the team was performing and that’s all that mattered.”
By 2007, however, that winning sheen had worn off from a ballclub that was now fighting each year to stay out of the cellar. The Mariners were in disarray, and the Moose’s life took a tumble once again as a result.
“When did things go bad again?” he asks. “I can point to one date in particular: August 5th, 2007. The day I tried to kill Coco Crisp.”
Many fans may remember the incident that took place on this particular date at Safeco Field. The Mariners were taking on the visiting Boston Red Sox. Aboard his personal all-terrain vehicle, the Moose nearly collided with Crisp, the Red Sox center fielder, as Crisp was exiting the Boston dugout. Though Crisp emerged unhurt and unfazed, the incident made headlines as a near-encounter of mascot-on-player violence.
As a team, the Mariners played the incident off as an unfortunate accident. Crisp, himself, didn’t seem to mind that he had nearly been upended by the Moose’s reckless driving. But the Moose? The Moose tells a different story.
“Yeah,” he begins, “I tried to run his ass over. That [expletive] had been talking trash to me all game. At one point, he gestured at me from the outfield, then grabbed his genitals. I was sick of it. The animal impulses overwhelmed me and as soon as I got on that four-wheeler, I knew what I had to do.
“I waited until I saw him emerge from the dugout and that’s when I cranked it. I was headed right for his ass, too, but it turns out he’s a squirrely [expletive]. He pulled out a triple salchow or some [expletive] and managed to avoid my front tires. I was pissed. If I could do it over again, I’d still try to run him down. That dude deserved it.”
You can say this about the Moose. He is nothing if not passionate.
If you look more closely at this incident, however, you’ll see that it was yet another turning point in the fragile existence of our story’s subject. From here on out, the Moose would revert back to his old habits. And old habits, as they say, die hard.
Freefalling to the Future
He is 36 years old now. Gray hairs dot his fur. Wrinkles crease his brow. He is older. He should be wiser. But even he admits that wisdom has not yet set in.
“I’ve made some bad choices in my life,” confesses the Moose. “I’ve been lucky to have what I have, but I certainly haven’t made the most of what I’ve been given.”
He hits the bottle harder than ever these days, drinking alcohol by the trough-full.
He is a multi-millionaire, but investing hasn’t been his strong suit. He freely admits to spending money on ridiculous things.
“I own every movie and every television show ever produced on LaserDisc,” he declares. “When I was younger, some dude told me that LaserDiscs were the wave of the future. On his advice, I blew my entire savings. Now all I have to show for it is a season’s worth of Davis Rules and some other garbage. I never even thought to buy a LaserDisc player. I can’t even watch this junk.”
He still sleeps around quite frequently, even with his penchant for attracting disease. But he has an explanation for that.
“Let’s be honest, if you’re willing to sleep with a moose, you have to expect that you might catch something here or there. I bathe in mud. I sleep in dirt. Yeah, I’m hung like a moose, but that’s only part of the equation. I’ve done some crazy [expletive]. I’ll admit that. At least I wear two condoms. At least I do that. If I lived in Africa, I’d just go around spreading my gonorrhea like it was no big deal. At least I’m not a jerk about it.”
On top of that, an arrest in 2009 for public intoxication, public urination, and soliciting prostitution did nothing to help the Moose’s ever decreasing image. He refuses to acknowledge that this incident ever occurred. Court records, however, show that the Moose asked an undercover police officer (through sign language) to “play the rusty trombone” on at least three occasions, while simultaneously urinating on an incoherent homeless man and stumbling from the effects of what was described as “significant alcohol consumption.”
Now three years removed from a decade-long stab at sobriety and sanctity, the Moose is back to his ill-reformed ways. He has been labeled a pervert, a sexual predator, an alcoholic, a junkie, a dealer, a pimp, a creep, and worst of all, a detriment to the game of baseball. Still, through it all, he remains employed by the Seattle Mariners. And he’s just fine with that.
“The Mariners [expletive] need me. They need me. Look at that team. They’ve been horrible for most of the past decade. Without me, they’re nothing…”
His voice quickly trails off as he breaks down. The tears flow rapidly from his eyelids as he weeps openly, in touch with his feelings for quite possibly the first time in years. He bawls sadly, silently. After five minutes of crying, he pauses, then begins to sign again.
“I just want them to win, you know? When they were winning, I was happy. My life was great. And now…now they lose. That’s it. My life would be different if we could take home a pennant.”
The Moose continues to sob. One can’t help but feel for this tormented soul. An ambassador of the organization he represents, his life has fluctuated with his employer’s success, or lack thereof. Though his cognizance of this bond he shares with the Mariners is rarely acknowledged, it is evident that no one — absolutely no one — has taken this team’s struggles to heart moreso than the Moose.
Will this story ever find its happy ending? Who knows for sure. It remains to be seen where the Moose will go from here. If this mascot is ever to resurrect his sense of well-being, he will likely need to witness a World Series firsthand.
Throughout the roller coaster ride that is the Moose’s life, he has always remained steadfast in his loyalty to the Mariners. Despite all the trials and tribulations he has forced the franchise to endure on his behalf, they are lucky to have this creature as part of their team. Perhaps gratitude is all he seeks. But more likely, it is that never-ending search for the win, the title, that keeps the Moose waking up each and every day.