Following six nerve-wracking rounds of fan voting and nearly a month of nonstop campaigning, Albuquerque's Orbit has emerged from an initial field of 64 zany competitors from across the country to become the first-ever MiLB.com Mascot Mania champion.
The Isotopes' large and lovable alien dispatched Ike the Spike of State College in the finals to earn the much-coveted title of Best Mascot in Minor League Baseball, securing nearly 60 percent of the vote in the last round.
"It's a tremendous honor," said an elated Orbit, with a seemingly permanent smile running across his furry orange face. "There were a lot of great mascots taking part in the competition, and to come out on top is just an unbelievable thrill. I'd like to thank each of my mascot brethren for a great competition. It really was great to compete alongside 63 other terrific mascots that do such a great job of supporting their teams."
Orbit's path through the West bracket was no walk in the park as he took on Homer (Billings), Cosmo (Las Vegas), Thunder (Lake Elsinore Storm) and Spike (Round Rock) before facing scrappy Midwest champion Snappy D. Turtle (Beloit) in the semis. Evidenced by this recent promotional video (below), Orbit enjoyed an outpouring of support from Isotopes players and fans alike.
"I just have a lot of passionate fans, and once we got the word out about the competition, they did an unbelievable job of voting. I really owe it all to them," Orbit said.
How does he plan on celebrating?
"Since this honor is entirely due to the fans, I plan on sharing it with them at an Isotopes game," he said. "My goal is to thank each and every person who voted for me by giving them a big hug. Oh, and a celebratory pizza might be in the works as well!"
State College Spikes ran an impressive campaign from the get-go, releasing a flurry of campaign videos and garnering a mayoral endorsement to help propel their short-season candidate on an unlikely run through a difficult East bracket and past South champ Phinley of Clearwater in the semifinals.
"We want to thank all of our amazing fans for making this run possible," said an appreciative Ike. "They are truly the best fans in all of Minor League Baseball!" Ike exclaimed. "Their support and compassion carried me into the championship. But for the record, I guarantee the win for 2013!"
Dan Marinis is an editor at MLB.com.