The little red bird strutted along the top of the wall behind centre field. He really enjoyed his perch, watching all the action out on the field. But today was different. Today he was going down on that field. His mother had tried to talk him out of it. She was worried he would be hurt or embarrassed by the bigger birds who always tried to steal the show. But his courage was not going to fail him. He needed to be tough if he was going to go through with his plan.
Today there was a competition. His favorite baseball team was looking for a mascot…and he wanted desperately for them to pick him. After all, they were called the Cardinals and he was a Northern Cardinal. Who could possibly be a better mascot than him! Today was tryout day.
He watched from the top of the wall as one bird after another strutted their stuff around home plate. First there was Oscar the Barn Owl with his big round glassy eyes, and still half asleep. “There is no way Oscar would be able to stay awake for a whole game,” thought the little red bird.
Then came Harold the Rough-Legged Hawk, his beady eyes darting back and forth. “No way can he get the job,” thought the little red bird, “he only visits here in the winter and baseball is a summer sport!”
Next came Billy the Yellow-Headed Blackbird with white patches on his wings.
“He’s very pretty,” thought the little red bird, “but he’s the wrong color for my team!”
Bird after bird paraded from home plate to first base and back again, yet not one of them seemed to fit the bill.
“Is that the last one?” yelled a man with clipboard. “Surely there must be someone better than this lot!”
The little red bird puffed out his chest and let out the loudest whistle he could.
“Hey you up there!” shouted the man with the clipboard. “Yeah, you. Are you trying out? If you are you better hurry up, we’re almost finished.”
The little red bird flew down to home plate.
“Now show us what you’ve got,” said the man.
The little red bird’s skinny legs began to shake. He opened his beak, but nothing came out. “Maybe my mother was right,” he thought. “Maybe I am too small for this job. There’s no way they will pick me.”
The man with the clipboard knelt down beside him and ever so gently and kindly said, “Now little fellow, there’s no need to be shy. Just pretend we’re not here and show us what you can do.”
The man stood up and moved away, the little red bird stuck out his beak, puffed up his chest and strutted to first base as though he owned it, all the while whistling as he went. Next he did a cartwheel, then a somersault. He flew over their heads and dive-bombed the bases. Finally he landed back on home plate and stood before the men.
He stood there silently, watching and waiting as the men began to whisper. “Pick me, pick me”, his heart thumped out as he waited to see what they would say.
Finally the men walked back over to the little red bird.
“We have made our decision,” the man with the clipboard announced. “We would like you to be our new mascot.”
“Me!” exclaimed the little red bird.
“Yes you. But first we need a few details. What’s your name?” he asked.
“”R-r-r-r-red bird,” stammered the little red bird.
“Great,” said the man as he wrote on his form. Next he got the little red bird to give him his address and his parents’ names, then his age, his height and his weight. The man wrote all of these details on the form. When he had finished he handed the form to the little red bird and asked him to sign it.
The little red bird looked at the form and saw what the man had written against his name. “But that’s not my name,” he said. “I’m just little red bird.”
“But you have to have a name,” said the man. “You can’t work for us if you don’t have a name.”
So the little red bird signed the form and from that day on became known as ‘Fred Bird, St Louis Cardinals Mascot’.
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