Mr. Met Was Once Threatened By The Secret Service: 'Approach The President, And We Go For The Kill Shot!'
In case you worried the Secret Service might be saddled with an overabundance of good humor, never fear — an agent once threatened to shoot Mr. Met in the head, during a 1997 New York Mets game at Shea Stadium. On the 50-year anniversary of Jackie Robinson becoming the first African-American to play in the MLB, then-President Bill Clinton was in attendance. And Mets mascot performer AJ Mass was, as you'd imagine, excited to meet him.
Unfortunately, after his enormous costumed head couldn't fit through an on-field metal detector, a Secret Service agent issued him a dire warning — approach the president, and snipers in the stadium would shoot him dead.
The story is relayed in Mass' new book, Yes, It’s Hot in Here: Adventures in the Weird, Wooly World of Sports Mascots. His tenure as the beloved, upbeat ambassador for the historically woeful Mets ran from 1994 to 1997 — the team marginally improved each year he was on the beat, which Mass likes.
To hear Mass tell the story of his altercation with Clinton security, it sounds pretty harrowing. The agent's words, as recalled by Mass:
We have snipers all around the stadium, just in case something were to happen. Like I said, do whatever it is you normally do. But approach the President, and we go for the kill shot. Are we clear?
Mass writes that the agent stared directly into the mouth of his costume while speaking — on most such costumes, the mouth is the means for the performer to see outside — and let a pregnant pause hang in the air:
He pauses for a moment to let the words sink in, and it feels like he isn’t only looking into my eyes, but also into my very soul with his blank, unblinking stare.
By the time the agent broke the silence, he delivered one final warning.
Approach the President, and we go for the kill shot. ARE — WE — CLEAR?
For what it's worth, once Clinton no longer boasted the status and trappings of a sitting president, things loosened up a little, and Mr. Met finally got a meet-and-greet — but that's Mr. Met the character, now performed by somebody else. Mass, on the other hand, never ended up getting what he describes as: "The holy grail for all mascots — a photo op and meet and greet with a sitting President."