Chattanooga-(WDEF-TV) Animal mascots are nothing new in college football, but they’re pretty rare in baseball, especially when the mascots are camels.
But back in 1996, the Chattanooga Lookouts had a pair of camels in the outfield at Engel Stadium.
Kathy Lee Gifford and her husband Frank Gifford helped usher in the Lookouts season in 1996. But new owner Frank Burke dreamed of bigger attractions.
Said Burke back in ’96:”I wanted an elephant, but the elephants are very difficult to take care of. I’ve heard you are allowed to paint elephants, so we were going to paint our logo on the side of an elephant. (chuckles) Actually what I really wanted was something that would cause a little bit of a stir.”
Hello Hump Day. Burke brought in camels that he named Larry and Lumpy.
Said current Lookouts General Manager Rich Mozingo:”And you have to have them in pairs. They are much better together in pairs. Frank just wanted one camel out there, but he knew he had to get two, so he got two, and if one camel does it, the other camel will do it as well.”
And just like these two camels, Larry and Lumpy stayed at the Chattanooga Zoo.
Now imagine getting these guys to the ballpark.
Said Chattanooga Zoo President Darde Long:”Getting them to Engel Stadium was a bit of an issue.”
Reporter:”How was that?:”
Said Long:”Well it was great. We don’t have anything to haul a camel in, so we walked them, and there are probably some good stories from motorists who didn’t enjoy the fact that we walked them across McCallie Avenue going and across the Third Street bridge coming back.”
Said the ‘Voice of the Lookouts’ Larry Ward:”Then it was also very intriguing to have two camels in dead center field. Pinned up for baseball games. You see the visiting teams come for the first time, and their eyeballs are like ahhh. That big around.”
Said Mozingo:”So if we were in town for five games or four games or eight games, they would stay the whole time, and then they would come over from the zoo and pick them up and take them back over to the zoo.”
Reporter:”They wore helmets?”
Said Mozingo:”Every single night with straps around their chins, so they would stay on.”
Said Long:”I just remember Larry just decided that he had had enough, and he started bucking and honking and carrying on. Well off across the field he ran, and he was bucking and putting on the biggest show. We were mortified, but I think everybody thought it was either planned or it was the funniest thing they had ever scene. Yeah good times, and thanks Frank for the memories.” (laughter)