Hundreds of submissions came to the Tucson Padres office via email, mail and Facebook, and our favorite friar now has a name - the Kino Bambino. The winning entry comes from Tucson resident Andrew Jones (not "Andruw" of Braves fame). Andrew wins four free Opening Night tickets, a free Tucson Padres cap and the opportunity to bring the Kino Bambino to an event of his choice.
The long lost brother of the San Diego Padres' Swinging Friar roamed the desert and arrived in Tucson for the March 25th Spring Training game. He dazzled the 11,000 fans that day, dancing and waving to screaming fans. The Tucson Padres front office marveled at their luck - the brother of the Swinging Friar showing up just weeks before the season!
Then the only question was - what to call him? After sorting through the hundreds of suggested names, one stood above the rest, the Kino Bambino. His name has a strong connection to the Tucson region, while also honoring the most famous baseball player of all time. The Kino Bambino, and Kino Stadium, are named after Father Eusebio Kino, the man who established 24 missions in the southwestern United States in the late 1600's.
"The Bambino" is the most famous of the nicknames attached to slugger Babe Ruth. Ruth's 714 career home runs and 60 single-season home run records stood for decades. Like our new friend, the Kino Bambino, Ruth was known for his charisma and sense of humor.
"What can I say?" said the Kino Bambino, in an unprecendented exclusive mascot interview. "I wandered through the desert, visited General Manager Mike Feder's office, and told him about my connection to the Padres. I said I was here to be the Tucson Padres mascot if he'll take me." Feder said "it was an easy decision!"
The Kino Bambino has been active in the Tucson community already. Yesterday he appeared at Coronado Little League's Opening Ceremonies, and tonight you can watch him on Fox 11 KMSB-TV Sports Force.
"The Kino Bambino has already become the face of the Tucson Padres," said Feder. "He has a name and he has energy. I don't know what I'm more excited about, watching our great team on the field, or watching the Kino Bambino's antics in the crowd."
The Tucson Padres first game is Thursday at 5:05 pm at Colorado Springs. Opening Night at Kino Stadium is Friday, April 15th at 7:00 pm against Salt Lake.