'Scary' mascot helps keep baseball team on track

Palomar pitcher Cody Willingham sits down in the dugout between innings next to the Tiki man on April 18 in the game against Southwestern on Myers Field. Palomar won 4-1. Deb Hellman/Telescope

Put away the rabbit’s feet, horseshoes and four-leaf clovers. Palomar’s baseball team has found their good luck charm in something off the usual track of superstitious items: a four-foot tall Tiki man from the islands of Fiji. His name is Bill.

Starting on March 15, the team went through an agonizing six-game losing streak. Almost all of the games were lost by one run, and as they fought to keep team morale up and to get back in the win column, sophomore outfielder Casey Munoz decided that something needed to be done.

“We lost six games in a row, so I was like, I need to bring him, so I did,” Munoz said of the statue. “We won the first game we brought him out, so he’s on a full scholarship right now.”

The win was a huge one for Palomar. They played conference rivals Grossmont College and beat them 7-2. Starting pitcher Julian Esquibel threw a complete game, only allowing two runs on nine hits with three strikeouts and no walks.

Since the Tiki man joined the team, they have gone 5-2 (as of April 14).

“He’s allowed out to any game he wants,” Munoz said.

Munoz is actually babysitting the Tiki man for one of his friends, who is currently living in England and getting married there. He said that his friend has no idea that the Tiki man is being used as the Comets’ mascot.

“He’s not going to know either, unless he reads The Telescope,” Munoz said with a laugh.

Baseball manager Buck Taylor is all for anything that will get his team out of a slump.

“We’re trying it all, so right now it’s the Tiki,” he said.

Munoz said that the Tiki man helps keep the atmosphere in the dugout light during games.

“It helps keep us loose because he’s actually pretty scary,” Munoz said. “He’s hand-carved out of something like driftwood and they used coconut for his hair, so he’s pretty scary to look at.”

As for the future of Bill the Tiki man, Munoz said that he’s going to keep him until his friend gets back to the States. In fact, the Tiki man will be going with Munoz and fellow teammate D.J. Zapata when they transfer to Santa Clara University in the fall.

“Hopefully he’s invited to the dugout up there, too. We’ll see,” Munoz said.

For now, the Comets will be hoping that his magic will continue to work as the end of the season and the playoffs approach.

kbergquist@the-telescope.com

@kaitybergquist

Author: Kaity Bergquist

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