Every year, Minor League Baseball holds a contest for Minor League Mascot of the Year. Over 100 mascots are pitted against each other in an online vote to determine the best mascot of the minors. Mascots are judged on appearance, talent, and their thoughts on world peace.
(Ok, maybe not the last. But their dance moves are highly analyzed.)
Florida State League mascots have done well in this contest in the past, with the Clearwater Threshers’ Phinley winning in 2014. This year, in a very surprise victory, Dunedin’s D-Jay took home the trophy.
Even MinorLeagueBaseball.com writer Danny Wild seemed impressed with D-Jays’ win.
It’s an impressive accomplishment for a club that ranks among the lowest in average attendance, especially compared to big-market Triple-A teams like Omaha and Tacoma.
Therein lies the surprise. Dunedin is one of the smallest markets for Minor League Baseball in the US. The team is at the bottom of the Florida State League and nearly all of Minor League Baseball in attendance every year. There is even talk that the Blue Jays might be leaving Dunedin.
In Wild’s article, he mentions votes coming in from Canada, as Toronto residents supported their Blue Jays affiliate mascot. But could the contest have been a statement by the people of Dunedin to the Blue Jays organization that baseball is important to the area? That is probably how the town will spin it when they discuss a spring training extension with the Blue Jays.
It is possible however, that D-Jay could be more popular than the team he represents. That’s not unusual, as this has been the case for the San Diego Chicken for decades.
Whatever the case and whatever his future, D-Jay is flying high as the 2016 Minor League Mascot of the Year.