Last Saturday, Shelly the Horse retired from his position as the Arkansas Travelers’ mascot. The Minor League Baseball Team has been home to Shelly for the last 17 years. The Travs’ official statement on the issue was simple: Shelly wanted to take some time to relax, go to the beach, and have quiet summers.
According to Shelly, these are lies. “I was ousted by the organization! They wanted a fresh-faced new mascot to appeal to ‘younger audiences’ so they sent me to the glue factory…metaphorically.”
Horse was devastated by the news, which he received earlier this summer. His position was cut, he would receive no severance package, and his benefits would expire as the last firework sounded over Dickey-Stephens Park on August 31.
“Some farewell party,” he muttered as subject was broached. “You know, I was almost tenured. They got me out of there before my next raise, and before I could become a real pain in their ass.”
However, Shelly the Horse did not leave without a fight. For 17 years, he has raced a child from the audience around the bases during between-inning breaks. For 17 years, Shelly lost. But his last game was a victory. “Of course those races were rigged! I was supposed to lose every time. But that last night,” he mumbled in a state dreamy delight, “That last night I beat them. I beat them all.”
While he is currently unemployed, Shelly is determined. He has applied for several jobs around the state, but has been forced to widen his search. Oaklawn Racing in Hot Springs refused to hire Horse on the grounds of “Equine Territorial Crossover Infringement”. He was sure the University of Arkansas at Monticello would be happy to take a new mascot, but Shelly did not receive a call back.
After his termination and difficulty finding work, Shelly took legal action. He has appealed to the National Association for the Welfare of Mascots on the basis of racism, sexism, classism, and Thoroughbred discrimination. His cases have yet to be heard.
Shelly has not lost hope. “I’m looking up, there’s always a place for us – Black Beauty, My Little Pony, Mr. Ed, the list goes on forever,” Horse said as he finished his ninth beer, “and somewhere in there is Shelly the Horse.”