FRESNO, Calif. - After eight seasons of being the Grizzlies mascot, Wild Thing officially announced his retirement at a press conference held at Grizzlies Stadium on Saturday morning during Kid Fest.
Prior to making his announcement, Wild Thing brought Wilda on stage and proposed to her in front of more than 100 cheering fans in attendance.
"I'd like to say that today I'm officially announcing my retirement from the Fresno Grizzlies," Wild Thing said in his statement read by C.E.O. Pat Filippone. "Please don't be sad that I'm leaving, but be happy as I move on to this exciting time in my life. I want to go home, I want to start a family, I want to roam free and I want to be with Wilda!"
Wild Thing also announced that he has picked a new mascot to take over for him starting Opening Night on Friday, April 14 against the Tacoma Rainiers. The new character though, does not have a name yet and the Grizzlies need the fans to help out.
Wild Thing is holding a naming contest for all fans to submit a mascot name to firstname.lastname@example.org until April 7. The winning name will be announced on Opening Night when the new character is revealed with Wild Thing.
"Since I have such respect for the fans here, I'd like to let them know that I've personally hand picked my replacement," Wild Thing stated. "I am absolutely, 100 percent sure that you will instantly fall in love with my selection."
"Right now, our front office staff is still somewhat shocked," said Mike Maiorana, Vice President of Corporate Partnerships. "We all want the best for Wild Thing and his beautiful fiancé, but will certainly miss having him around. We are confident that he has found us a suitable replacement, although when you wear size 24, those are big shoes to fill."
Wild Thing's last hurrah will be Sunday, April 16 when he and Wilda will exchange their vows at the conclusion of the Grizzlies afternoon game against Tacoma. Official wedding invitations will be distributed to the fans in attendance on Opening Night. The wedding invitation can be redeemed at the Grizzlies ticket office for a free ticket to Sunday's game along with the post-game ceremony.
"I'd like to thank all the Grizzlies fans and staff who have been so patient and understanding with me these past few days," Wild Thing said. "This has been without a doubt, the greatest position a bear could hold. I have been honored to play such a large role in the San Joaquin Valley."
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.