Sunday, May 27, 2007

Entrepreneurship in the Ville gone to the Birds

My first thought was: Explain to me the thought process that leads to this career path. Thought #2: Imagine this person’s day job.

Well, according to the BirdZerk! website, it’s unlikely he has one. At least during baseball season. Between April and September, Birdzerk!, native of the Ville, travels all around the country from CT to Albuquerque plying his zany mayhem. The brainchick of Dominic Latkovski, former Billy Bird mascot of the now-defunct Louisville Redbirds, BirdZerk! was hatched in 1995 and has provided entertainment to more than a hundred AAA Baseball teams and played at seven AAA All-Star games.

BirdZerk! (yes, the exclamation point is part of his name, like Jeopardy!), the Mardi Gras colored yellow bird-clown-sports mascot, provided the inter-inning entertainment for the May 26th Bats-Bisons Triple-A game at Louisville Slugger Field. And he was funny, actually gosh-darn funny. He and his family (?), Zerk! Jr, BabyZerk!, and BallZerk!, tormented the Bisons and umpires during their at-bat warm-ups in well-choreographed skits. BirdZerk! goads the third baseman into doing a funny “hey-ho!” dance and then runs away, leaving him dancing alone on the field. BirdZerk! gets kicked in the butt by an outfielder and BirdZerk! steals his glove and throws it to the fans.

The real stars are the good sports (pun intended) who go along with the Zerkfamily’s stunts. I tend to buy into the stereotype that most athletes visited both the Testosterone and Ego booths twice before they were born, but the half-dozen or so player-victims seemed joyfully willing to play the ass (it probably didn’t hurt that the Bisons took a 2-0 lead in the first inning and led throughout).

I was laughing too hard to whip out the digital camera, but the real entertainer of the evening was a barely knee-high little boy who participated in the final “I-dance-and-then-you-copy-me” (I’m sure there’s a technical name for it in sports entertainment jargon) BirdZerk! skit. Started off innocent enough: I shuffle and then you shuffle, I skip and then you skip. Then BirdZerk! did a bump-and-grind, and tiny tot shook his moneymaker. In the final exchange BirdZerk! whipped off his purple shirt and swung it around like a lasso, and tiny tot didn’t hesitate before he yanked his red t-shirt over head (it got caught on his ears), windmilled it over his head, and tossed it on the grass like a top-notch Chippendale dancer in the Land of Oz.

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