One in a Mule-ion

Our mascot has been a focal point for Muhlenberg athletics and community for almost a 100 years

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Marti is great friends with the Weekly! Photo courtesy of the Muhlenberg Office of Communications.

“Go Cardinals!” Was the phrase you would’ve heard at a Muhlenberg baseball game in the 1920s. Sounds weird. How did the athletic program become represented by the beloved Marti and what is it like being the person in the suit?

Sports Information Director Mike Falk says, “According to legend, our teams were known as the Cardinals in the early part of the century. We actually have a photo of one of our baseball teams from the 1920s where their uniforms have ‘cardinals’ on them.” 

As for what drove the change from the Cardinals to the Mules, one could say the first amendment and freedom of the press. Falk explains, “The switch to Mules came from newspaper writers who found the word ‘Muhlenberg’ too long to fit into headlines. They shortened it to Muhl and eventually, our teams came to be known as the Mules.” A fairly incredible story and Falk hit the nail on the head saying, “Can’t imagine us being anything else!”

Now Muhlenberg is represented by a person who has the position of the game management assistant or as—you may know them—the mascot. You may know him in day-to-day life as your classmate, friend or peer, but for the sake of protecting the magic and might of the mule, their name will not be disclosed.

Marti disclosed to me that when they came to Muhlenberg, they “wanted to sing the national anthem; that was my main goal. I didn’t even know the mascot was an option, so I showed Megan Patruno a video of me singing, and she asked if I wanted to be the mascot, and I was like, ‘really,’ and they were like ‘yeah. Do you know what you’re getting yourself into?’ And I said ‘no, but I’m in it now!’”

 Once again, Muhlenberg traditions are determined not by planning, but by thinking of an idea and going for it. This changed Marti from a volunteer job to a permanent position, listed as game management assistant.

After a long hot day in the suit giving players high fives and entertaining the crowd, there’s a not so fun but necessary part of the job. “It’s a fun job, but not the cleanest,” so Marti takes the suit to get washed.

In their two years of experience representing the college at events from field hockey games to fundraisers, there are three rules that they have made for themselves: “No talking,” well, unless it’s to whisper some words of encouragement into a linebacker’s ear. “Don’t take the head off in front of the kids,” a rule every mascot follows since seeing a decapitated mule may cause trauma similar to seeing mama kissing Santa Claus. Most importantly, “Always stay in constant motion.” That’s what Marti does, he keeps the crowd entertained. You won’t see a single rule broken.

How would Marti describe himself? “Marti is like a curious 8-year-old, but also he can get a little sassy sometimes.” You may have even seen Marti moving the line markers and balls at the recent Moravian College game. 

Whatever Marti is doing, you can bet on it being entertaining as this mascot’s look on life is, “If you make people smile, then people will make you smile.” Marti is known for supporting our athletes with high fives and exciting the crowd, but they can’t do it alone. One job that often goes unnoticed is the job of the helper. Marti said, “I can’t do this alone.” 

But it is not just the singular helper that makes Marti who they are. Sadly, in a few years, we won’t have the same person in the suit, but the image they have created will carry on with the suit’s next inhabitant. After all, Marti is shaped by the crowd’s vision. Marti is a symbol of the students’ pride and the Muhlenberg community. Marti shows up at athletic and academic events, fundraising and student life. Where the Muhlenberg community resides, Marti will be there. The person that wears the suit has to understand this responsibility: when Muhlenberg needs a symbol of community, you can count on Marti to be there!

Matthew joined the Weekly Sports Section in his freshman year to tell the inspiring and compelling stories that transpire over points, games, and seasons.

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