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New Power mascot dons bowler

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- After weeks of anticipation, the West Virginia Power baseball team debuted its new mascot - a furry, yellow, bowler-hat-wearing creature named Chuck - during Tuesday night's game.

Chuck made his grand appearance in the middle of the second inning, riding into Appalachian Power Park on a Suzuki four-wheeler. The Davisson Brothers Band welcomed him to the stadium with a special adaptation of their song "Big City Hillbilly."

The new character will replace the Power Pack: Hydro, Gusty, Axe, Charlie and Pyro. Those mascots debuted alongside the new baseball park and team name in 2005.

Andy Milovich, the Power's executive vice president, said he started thinking of a way to replace those mascots about a year ago.

He enlisted the help of David Raymond, the original Phillie Phanatic, to design Chuck.

The Phanatic, the Philadelphia Phillies mascot, is also a big furry creature. He's green, though, and wears a Phillies uniform.

Raymond retired from his mascot career in 1993 and started the Raymond Entertainment Group, a consulting firm that helps teams create new mascots.

Milovich said the idea for five mascots "made a lot of sense on paper" but didn't stick with fans as well as the team hoped. He said there was "no one face" for the team - plenty of people recognized the mascots as "Power guys" but no one could call them by name.

The new mascot will be more identifiable, Milovich said, allowing the team to incorporate Chuck into its community outreach activities like the Power's Street Team. A joint venture between the baseball team and Charleston Area Medical Center, the Street Team aims to encourage healthier lifestyle choices in adults and children.

Milovich said the team will hire a full-time employee to embody Chuck and help organize those outreach events and other activities.

He said a Power intern has been practicing in the suit for weeks but the team is also considering a professional mascot from Charlotte who has previously worked with the University of North Carolina-Charlotte and the Charlotte Bobcats professional basketball team, Panthers pro football team and Knights minor league baseball team.

Milovich said Power mascots currently are portrayed by part-time employees who make $50 or $60 per game. He said those employees don't do much crowd entertainment, they just walk around, shake hands and sign autographs.

"They don't entertain and that's what a mascot should do," he said.

There were other reasons to replace the Power Pack, Milovich said: the mascots were getting a lot of wear and tear after five years on the job.

He said most mascot costumes only last two to four years but the five characters have shared the workload. They're developing some problems, though. One of Hydro's eyes, for instance, is falling out.

Appalachian Power Park has shown videos over the last three weeks detailing how the Pack was "fired." Milovich said they're off to Washington, D.C. to work on a new energy policy for the country.

The team also developed an elaborate back-story for Chuck, which was shown before Tuesday's game. It goes something like this:

Poor Charlie, father of the Charleston Charlies' original owner Bob Levine, found the strange-looking creature in his scrap yard decades ago. The thing didn't have a name, so Charlie dubbed it Chuck.

Naturally, Chuck became the Charlies' biggest fan and regularly watched their games at the now-demolished Watt Powell Park. He usually chose to watch from the train tracks behind the field, though, since he feared normal-looking fans would poke fun at him.

Chuck was greatly dismayed when the Charlies left Charleston in 1983 and wandered the country looking for another minor league team to root for. He didn't like any as much as his beloved Charlies, however, and returned to the woods of the Mountain State.

Eventually Chuck left the mountains and wandered back to his old stomping grounds. He heard, via the Daily Mail (not kidding), that Charleston had a new baseball team.

Chuck made his way to Watt Powell Park, only to find it demolished. Walking along the train tracks, however, he spotted a bowler hat and a half-smoked cigar on the train tracks.

The items reminded Chuck of Poor Charlie: the Charlies' original mascot wore a similar hat and always smoked a stogie in honor of the elder Levine. So Chuck put out the cigar and donned the hat.

Almost immediately, he found a "help wanted" ad from the Power, advertising an open mascot position. Chuck made his way downtown, applied and got the job.

Contact writer Zack Harold at 304-348-7939 or zack.harold@dailymail.com.


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