Big League Stew

Dodgers ‘Rally Bear’ unmasked — he’s a 50-year-old furniture store owner who is now banned for six months

Mike Oz
Big League Stew

The fan in a bear costume who jumped on one of the Dodger Stadium dugouts, led a cheer, did the splits and then was ejected from the park during Monday night's NLCS Game 3 has unmasked himself.

He's Mark Monninger, a 50-year-old furniture store owner from Rancho Cucamonga. Before we go any further, we must applaud the air this guy is catching at 50 and the fact that he's nimble enough to do the splits.

[Photos: Dustin Hoffman and fans react to the unofficial Dodger bear]

The Dodgers weren't exactly impressed, though. They banned Monninger from the stadium for six months after his antics. Even though the crowd — which included actor Dustin Hoffman — was transfixed by the "Rally Bear."

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(Getty Images)

This wasn't about causing a disturbance or getting attention for himself, Monninger told the L.A. Times, he was trying to make a point: The Dodgers need a mascot. They're one of only four MLB teams that doesn't have one. And no, Yasiel Puig, doesn't count, no matter how many times he flails his arms around.

Monninger said he was trying to drive home the point that the Dodgers need a mascot.

"I'm not trying to promote any organization or cause.... I just want to show fans, this is what is out there, this is someone that can entertain you," he said.

He decided on a bear costume because "bears are cuddly, they look good." Monninger had tried a similar move once before, he said, at the Dodgers' last regular-season home game, when he dressed up in the bear costume and ran through the stands trying to get fans pumped up. But this time, he said, "the key was I had to be on the dugout."

Monninger said that as he was taken away in a squad car out of the stadium, fans saw him in the back seat and chanted "Free the bear! Free the bear!"

Baseball is strange. A fan trying to be an amateur mascot can get banned from the stadium (we've seen it in Chicago too), but a fan who shows some belly can become a team's good-luck charm?

Monniger, it turns out, has mascot experience. He was Tuffy the Titan at CSU Fullerton in the 1980s. He was also a mascot for the Class-A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes for five years.

If the Dodgers lose in Tuesday night's Game 4, there might be some more Dodgers fans chanting "Free the bear! Free the bear!"

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Mike Oz is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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