07/21/17 / Padres360.com / @Padres360
By Wayne McBrayer, Rebecca Herman and Craig Martin from Lake Elsinore, CA
Since 2001, Thunder has been entertaining fans as The Diamond in Lake Elsinore as well as personal and public appearances all over Southern California. His passion for the Storm and the fans in the stands is as obvious as the green fur that grows out of his skin. We decided to see if the Big Green Dog would be willing to chat about his career, so we threw him a bone and he graciously agreed to chat with us, but under his terms. Craig and Wayne arrived at The Diamond on a hot and steamy Sunday afternoon about 1PM, and were asked to put on blindfolds as we would taken to Thunder’s Secret Locker room in the bowels of the stadium. They quickly arrived in a room where all the mascots get ready for game time. They passed Jackpot and Hamlet’s lockers before getting to the throne of Thunder. Thunder graciously had 2 bowls of water waiting for the boys and had Rebecca on the phone and at this point, the interview started…
Padres360: This is Padres 360, and we are here talking today to the legendary iconic main eventer called Thunder. Thunder, it is a pleasure to talk to you.
Thunder: Bark bark woof woof.
Padres360: Now, Thunder, obviously, you are a great mascot. And you’re great at what you do. But what made you get into the baseball industry to begin with?
Thunder: Well definitely the hot dogs are aplenty, and just seeing the fans every day, seeing smiling faces makes my day.
Padres360: Now, Hamlet was the first mascot that was here. Do you two get along now that you’re the lead dog?
Thunder: Oh yeah, yeah. He took a little bit of a vacation out into the lake for several years, but once we had the 20 year celebration in 2014, we brought him back. He comes around from time to time but I always say don’t get a big head, but he has a long neck.
Padres360: There are a lot of mascots that are out there. Who are some of the mascots you really like and look up to?
Thunder: I have to look up to Hamlet ’cause he is taller than I am. My role models are definitely the Phillie Phanatic, some people say that I have a striking resemblance to him, I don’t know what they’re talking about. The Phillie Phanatic, The Famous Chicken, obviously, is a great one, and then Orbit from the Astros.
Padres360: What mascot would you say, of all the ones you know, you would consider your BFF?
Thunder: My BFF? Definitely Jackpot, he’s in house of course. But probably, I would say, I know it’s not Bernie.
Padres360 What is your favorite thing to do here at The Diamond?
Padres360: When you’re not here at The Diamond, what is your favorite way to relax and have fun outside the ballpark?
Thunder: I go and spend time on the lake, since Hamlet and I have become better friends, he takes me out on his boat sometimes and shows me around.
Thunder: Then of course going to our lovely Storm sponsors, like the Lake Elsinore Casino, and Stadium Pizza, and other places like that.
Padres360: We just ate at one of you sponsors, El Ranchito.
Thunder: We love El Ranchito.
Padres360: Have you ever shut that place down from overeating?
Thunder: I have snuck in from time to time, and I’m a fan of the burritos.
Padres360: Awesome. At this point, Chef Craig is going to ask you the chef-related questions to the interview.
Padres360: Thunder, thank you for your time. As a chef, I’m always curious what’s going on in other kitchens. So with all the great options here at The Diamond, what are some of your favorite things?
Thunder: My favorite things to eat? Definitely a Storm Dog. It’s a go-to classic. The corn dogs are nice, you get two for five dollars, and you’re not getting that anywhere else. That’s a great deal. I would say be careful eating the tacos. I did briefly catch on fire a few weeks ago, very slight fire, everything is fine. Mom, I know you’re listening, everything’s okay.
Padres360 So Thunder, the Diamond’s also a great family environment. What do you get for the pups? What do you buy for the pups to eat?
Thunder: Pupcorn. Every 6th inning I throw pupcorn from the suites. That’s what I was raised on, that’s what my kids will be raised on, and their kids, and so on and so on.
Padres360: We see you working really hard, and the crowds love you, it’s gotta be a great outpouring of energy so when you go home dog tired, what does Mrs. Thunder have in the bowl for you?
Thunder: Thunderella always has a nice bowl of Kibbles ready for me. Nice and classic, she’s a simple lady. Complicated, but she’s a simple lady.
Padres360: Going forward, building on what The Diamond’s doing right now, if you could put one thing on the menu, a Thunder signature item, what would that be?
Thunder: If we could cook Bernie up (The Inland Empire 66ers mascot), and serve him on a stick, I don’t know how good the meat would be.
Padres360: Big pit roast.
Thunder: Yeah, yeah. Cook him on a spit.
Padres360: Well my dog is probably one of the worst behaved brown labs on the planet. Her name’s Maya. She’s a counter surfer, she pretty much eats what I eat no matter what I put in her bowl. You’ve got pups to raise. How do you think you’ll keep them on the straight and narrow, keep them from going wrong?
Thunder: Seeing by my size, the genetic is there for the big green dog side of everything, more of a husky fellow. But I do try to commit to be fit. That is my school reading program, and we travel to … past three years now, we’ve traveled around to schools teaching children the importance of reading, but also the importance of committing to be fit. I have a goal to be the fittest dog around. But I am working to improve myself every day.
Padres360: Well we want to talk about Mother’s Day and it was fun watching you on Mother’s Day. How are the pups doing right now, and are you and Jackpot on speaking terms?
Thunder: When my lovely longtime girlfriend Thunderella gave birth? Everything is … it was a little rocky there for a little bit. But I think we’re patching things out now, both kids are doing fine, little Jackpot was here last night at the game, and my son Drizzle is doing just fine.
Padres360: Do you like the Thunder section in right field, and did you have paw in it’s design?
Thunder: I do, yes. They were originally supposed to be maroon like the rest of the seats were, to match the stadium, but then on St. Patrick’s Day I met up with a leprechaun and we had a little fun with a bucket of green paint. And so that’s where those seats came from.
Padres360: If you could entertain at any ballpark stadium in the country, outside of The Diamond, where would you want to be and go?
Thunder: Obviously I want to see the Padres in the World Series, so Petco Park. Game … let’s say Game 5 of the World Series, they’re gonna win it in five.
Padres360: What about outside of Petco? If you could go to anywhere in the country, any state … anywhere in the world? Any stadium of any sporting event anywhere.
Thunder: How about The Birds Nest in Beijing? That’s a nice stadium.
Padres360: Is that the one where they had the Olympics?
Thunder: It is.
Padres360: What is your favorite memory of working with the Storm?
Thunder: Favorite memory of working with the Storm. Obviously the three championships we’ve won, but definitely … as dumb as it sounds, just making one person smile. My energy feeds off of the fans, and any time I get the wave going, or dumb things like that, it really makes my day, makes the home stand.
Padres360: One last question, I really want to thank you for your time, ’cause I know that you’re dog tired, and you’re resting up for the game tonight. When the time comes and you hang up the dog collar for one last time, who will be taking your spot?
Thunder: That’s hard to say. I don’t have any plans on retiring at this point. We shall see. I’m training up Mini-Thunder, he’s doing just fine. But I’m here for the long haul, I’ve been here for 142 years now in dog years. So it’s … I’m gonna go for 142 more. We’ll hope.
Padres360: Thunder, thank you so much for your time, we really appreciate it here at Padres 360 to talk to, honestly, the best mascot in the Cal League, and the best current mascot going. Thank you so much for your time.
Thunder: Thank you my friends.