Nov. 28, 2012
By Gary Ozzello
FORT COLLINS, Colo. – More than 2.5 million fans stream through the gates at Coors Field annually to see the Colorado Rockies in action 81 times year.
Millions more across the country watch games on television.
Few may know, however, that hidden behind the 30-pound purple Dinger mascot is Brady O’Neill, he of green and gold blood through and through and the team’s mascot coordinator/performer.
Brady O’Neill, a 2005 graduate of Colorado State, continues in his role as mascot coordinator/performer. O’Neill, who majored in Speech Communications at Colorado State, relishes his role, and more because of what he does off the impeccably groomed playing field than on.
“I get to make people’s day,” he said. “Whether it’s someone we’re honoring on the field, or a four-year-old kid on the concourse that I give a ‘high five,’ I get to make their day.”
While O’Neill makes memories for those people, it’s the stuff outside Coors Field that makes his day.
“It has given me opportunities to make people’s days off the field,” he said. “The best days are at Children’s Hospital,” which O’Neill said he makes frequent trips in his costume.
“You walk into the room, give a ‘high five’ to a young kid, and mom’s crying in the corner. You sign autographs, and when I leave, it’s a huge emotional thing for me. The kids love it. I’d go to Children’s Hospital every day if I could.”
O’Neill has had the good fortune to be along for the Rockies’ run to the 2007 World Series, and 2009 playoff berth.
In 2007, he stood mere feet from “The Slide,” watching intently as Rockies’ outfielder Matt Holliday bumped his chin on the infield dirt while scoring the winning run to propel the team into the playoffs.
“I was right there for ‘The Slide.’ I was watching and I saw the ball roll away, so I knew he was safe,” O’Neill remembered. “I was one of the closest people in the world at that event.”
And, weeks later, to stand on the field during the playing of the National Anthem prior to a series game with the Red Sox was memorable as well.
“I think my grandpa dreamed of me being on Coors Field, but probably as a pitcher,” O’Neill joked.
Make no mistake, O’Neill enjoys his work with the Rockies as mascot coordinator/performer.
Make no mistake, either, that O’Neill bleeds green and gold. Before joining the Rockies, he was Cam the Ram for four years, and arrived in a circuitous fashion to his present lot in life.
“I grew up a theatre kid,” he explained. “I performed at Six Flags Amusement Park in Denver, playing Bugs Bunny, Foghorn Leghorn, and Sylvester the Cat.”
“I’m a big sports fan, and the summer before I came to CSU, I saw the mascot. I thought it would be a great way to be at the events and have a good time.”
After having attended Rangeview High in Aurora, O’Neill matriculated to Fort Collins to begin life as a CSU student.
A friend in his residence hall, a cheer squad member at Colorado State, told him about mascot tryouts.
O’Neill won the job, and performed as Cam for the next four years, from 2001-2005.
“I’m a HUGE CSU fan. I basically had a four-year internship for what I’m doing now. I absolutely love CSU, and I try to make it to games as often as possible.”
After four years as Cam, he was preparing to enter the workday world. Having performed at a “Mascot Day” at Pepsi Center during a Colorado Mammoth indoor lacrosse game, O’Neill received an email from the Rockies informing him of pending tryouts.
O’Neill already had a resume video in place for national collegiate competition, so he edited it and sent it in to the Rockies.
Since then, he’s been a part of the Rockies’ organization.
“It’s opened up some very cool opportunities for me.”
Tickets to all home events are available in one of the following convenient manners:
• In person: Tickets can be purchased at the McGraw Athletic Center ticket window, which is open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-6 p.m.
• On the phone: Fans can call toll free at 1-800-491-RAMS (7267) to purchase tickets to any Rams sporting event.
Online: Tickets can be purchased 24 hours a day, seven days a week at CSURams.com, the official Web site of Rams Athletics.
Note: Prices do not include fees for processing ($1 per ticket) or delivery - $2 print-at-home, $7 mail and $10 will call.