Rockies Mascot Avoids Clean Double Leg Takedown, Assailant Avoids Capture [UPDATE: Captured]
11:16 AM EDT on April 14, 2023
Dinger the dinosaur danced on the dugout. He wagged his little triceratops tail at the crowd. And then he was down. Someone in a dark hoodie jumped on the dugout and went for a double-leg takedown on Dinger. Considering Dinger is a giant mascot, I’d say the person in the costume did a wonderful job of avoiding a clean takedown. The assailant would not be able to ground and pound Dinger.
The Dinger dropper was restrained by the mascot's handler, who dresses like a paleontologist but with more purple. Dinger was evaluated by EMTs and was not seriously hurt. The strangest part of this incident, though, is that the guy who dropped Dinger escaped! He was not taken away by security like the unauthorized Dodger Bear mascot was a decade ago. Police are investigating the incident; last night cops released a photo of the suspect.
It is unclear what Dinger did to earn such animosity from a fan in good seats. He did shake his tail at the fans, but that is standard mascot behavior. If you are offended by that, you should not be at the ballpark. News coverage out of Denver offers no answers at this point, although it does have great lines like, “You probably wouldn’t expect to hear the words ‘Dinger’ and ‘police investigation’ in the same sentence, but that’s what’s happening.” A fan in attendance identified the man as drunk in a tweet.
Dinger is a dinosaur mascot because he was unveiled in 1994 and Jurassic Park had come out the year prior. The official story is that construction crews hit some fossils while building the Rockies’ new stadium in the 1990s. One of them was a “four-inch rib and some fragments” of a dinosaur, a Denver museum curator said. But we are adults here, and as adults can admit that Dinger is a dinosaur because of Jurassic Park. I could maybe be convinced he’s a reference to late 1980s kids show Denver, The Last Dinosaur, but only maybe.
Dinger also has a dad named Dug and a mother named Dinah. The parent mascots look pretty much exactly like Dinger, but with additional features to show that they’re older and a woman, respectively. It’s odd that they occasionally visit their son at work, but that sort of behavior is fairly common among mascot parents. They are all just so proud.
Sadly for them, Dinger is not the most popular mascot. A 2017 Colorado Public Radio story about him quoted numerous fans who disliked Dinger, including one who compared him to Barney. (Barney & Friends debuted in 1992, and I could also be convinced this is a partial inspiration.) The Rockies’ Brady O’Neill, an in-stadium host, told the station that if you didn’t like Dinger, then he just wasn’t for you.
“If you’re a single male, aged 25-40 you’re here to watch baseball,” O'Neill said. “You’re gonna have a beer, you're gonna eat a hot dog, you're gonna watch the game. Dinger isn’t here for you—no matter what.” Wow. Just wow. This suggests that our suspect could be a single male aged 25-40. Is it out of the range of possibilities that this guy was responding to this quote, six years later? Yes. Yes it is. That cannot be what happened.
But what did happen, here? I wanted to find someone not affiliated with the team who could offer a defense of Dinger. I found one in Suzie Hunter, a Rockies reporter for DNVR Sports. She and Dinger have a “fun little friendship,” she told me. The press box is next to the club box, and so he waves to her when he makes his rounds.
“I like Dinger!” Hunter says. “I think a lot of people who were kids when Dinger first hatched out of his shell—I think they’re a little traumatized. But kids definitely love him. The Rockies had a free girls softball clinic back in March and when Dinger showed up at the end—they absolutely lost their minds. It was the funniest, cutest thing I’ve ever seen.”
Unfortunately, Monday was Hunter’s one day off this week. She was not at the ballpark on the day that Dinger got dropped. “If I were working that night,” she says, “I would’ve been on my vigilante shit and tracked that attacker down.”
UPDATE, 6 p.m.: Denver cops said today they had ID’ed a man named Kenneth Sonley as the suspect. They called him up, and Sonley turned himself in this afternoon. In the police report, the victim is listed as “Dinger.”