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Orbit (mascot)

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Orbit (mascot)

Orbit
Orbit entertains fans at Minute Maid Park in March 2014
Team Houston Astros
Description Anthropomorphic space alien
First seen 1990
Related mascot(s) Junction Jack
Website Astros.com

Orbit is the name given to Major League Baseball's Houston Astros mascot, a lime-green outer-space creature wearing an Astros jersey with antennae extending into baseballs. Orbit was the team's official mascot from the 1990 through the 1999 seasons until the 2000 season, where Junction Jack was introduced as the team's mascot with the move from the Astrodome to then Enron Field. Orbit returned on November 2, 2012 at the unveiling of the Astros new look for their 2013 debut in the American League. The name Orbit pays homage to Houston's association with NASA and nickname Space City.[1]

History

In April 1977, the Astros introduced their first mascot, Chester Charge. At that time there was only one other mascot in major league baseball, which was the San Diego Chicken. Chester Charge was a 45-pound costume of a cartoon Texas cavalry soldier on a horse. Chester appeared on the field at the beginning of each home game, during the seventh inning stretch and then ran around the bases at the conclusion of each win. At the blast of a bugle, the scoreboard would light up and the audience would yell, “Charge!” The first Chester Charge was played by Steve Ross who was then an 18-year-old Senior High School student. [2]

Following a visit to then the AAA-Astros affiliate, the Tucson Toros in 1989, former team marketing Vice President Ted Haracz sought to bring the Toros' mascot, Tuffy to Houston to serve as the team's mascot.[3] Although Tuffy was not promoted from Tucson, Hal Katzman, who performed as Tuffy was invited by the team to serve as Orbit for the 1990 season. The development of a team mascot for the 1990 season was viewed by the team as an important piece in its community outreach programs, specifically with children.[3] Both the naming and design of the mascot were established from suggestion from Houston-area schoolchildren. The design for Orbit was derived from more than 10,000 children's drawings submitted to the Astros, with the final design being a composite of the various drawings submitted.[3] The first public appearance of Orbit occurred in January 1990 at Heflin Elementary School.[3]

One of the more notable incidents involving Orbit occurred when umpire Gary Darling ejected the mascot from the game for arguing balls and strikes.[4] In addition to his role as the Astros' mascot, Orbit made a one-time appearance as "Marty the Mariner Martian" during a "Turn Ahead the Clock" promotion at a 1998 Seattle Mariners game.[5] Orbit was replaced with Junction Jack beginning in the 2000 season, with the team's move from the Astrodome to then Enron Field.[6]

On April 13, 2010 a Facebook group called "Bring Back Orbit" was created with the hopes of having the Houston Astros organization to reinstate the mascot.[7] On November 2, 2012, the Astros revealed that after a 12-year absence, Orbit returned as the mascot for the 2013 season in the American League.

References

  1. ^ Kever, Jeannine (October 25, 1998). "The NASA Impact - Forty years ago the National Aeronautics and Space Administration was born, and Houston hasn't been the same since". The Houston Chronicle. p. 6. 
  2. ^ Tal Smith, President and Ed Wade, General Manager
  3. ^ a b c d Farrar, Foss (March 4, 1990). "Astros` Orbit more than just another major league mascot". The Houston Chronicle. p. C1. 
  4. ^ Duarte, Joseph (July 11, 1998). "Astros summary". The Houston Chronicle. p. C7. 
  5. ^ http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=lukas/080718
  6. ^ "Astros go to bat in new home". The Houston Chronicle. March 30, 2000. p. C7. 
  7. ^ http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=114244855260867
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