"Approach the president, and we go for the kill shot."
If we told you a Secret Service agent uttered those words, you surely wouldn't be surprised. Protecting the president is their job. But if we told you a Secret Service agent uttered those words to a mascot with a giant baseball head, then the whole thing gets a whole lot more interesting, doesn't it?
AJ Mass portrayed Mr. Met from 1994-1997, and during that time, then-President Bill Clinton visited Shea Stadium for the 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's first MLB game. In his new book about being Mr. Met, "Yes, It's Hot In Here," Mass relays the story of Clinton's visit to Shea and how it allegedly led to a threat on Mr. Met's life.
As you might imagine, a mascot with a huge head posed security concerns for the Secret Service. Mr. Met's giant head wouldn't fit through the metal detectors set up for the day and the metal inside the head set off security wands. Mass was caught up at numerous checkpoints. Eventually, according to a book excerpt at Huffington Post, one Secret Service agent gave Mass the OK to go about this business, but not before this chilling warning:
"We have snipers all around the stadium, just in case something were to happen," he says. "Like I said, do whatever it is you normally do. Nobody will bother you. But approach the president, and we go for the kill shot. Are we clear?"
He pauses for a moment to let the words sink in, and it feels like he isn't only looking into my eyes, but also into my very soul with his blank, unblinking stare. Then he says the same thing again, only a little bit slower this time, making sure I know his warning is not in any way to be misconstrued as some sort of gag. He's dead serious, and if I don't believe him, then I'll be dead--seriously.
"Approach the president, and we go for the kill shot," he repeats. "ARE--WE--CLEAR?"
Before that encounter, Mass had hoped to meet the president — "The holy grail for all mascots," he writes in the book, "a photo op and meet-and-greet with a sitting president," — and was figuring out how to work his way into Clinton's box at the stadium
The book excerpt doesn't say whether Mass ever met Clinton. But the fact that he's alive to write a book suggests Mr. Met wisely ditched that plan.
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Just for fun, here's my lo-fi dramatization of the whole scenario:
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