12/11/2017 11:30 AM
Vincent Pace, 27, a former performer for Rally, the St. Joseph Mustangs mascot during the 2010 season, is headed to Miami to perform as the Miami Heat mascot, Burnie.
Pace, originally from Kansas City, began his mascotting career at a young age. When he was in 7th grade, after disrupting math class his teacher, the cheer coach, chose an unusual punishment - to wear the school's mascot uniform throughout the school.
"She did it to kind of humiliate me, but I actually liked it," Pace said. "The principal wondered who it was and brought me into his office.”
The principal would offer Vincent the opportunity to be the school's mascot full time in hopes it would keep him out of trouble. It was that moment that changed the trajectory of Pace’s life forever.
“I started mascotting when I was in middle school,” Pace said. “I then continued in high school and then I came up to St. Joseph and attended Missouri Western State University. That’s where I was lead to the Mustangs through a friend of mine, Andrew Johnson. He contacted me and told me that they were looking for a mascot and I should apply.”
Pace eventually got the position and worked with the Mustangs during summers breaks while he was attending Missouri Western. At first mascotting was just something fun for Pace, but his time in St. Joseph showed him it had the capability of a full blown career.
“I love making people happy and (mascotting) fit my personality. I love interacting with people and kids,” Pace said. “I realized this was the perfect career for me when I was in college. The Mustangs were the start of this journey.”
The Mustangs had invited Tom Burgoyne, the legendary Philadelphia Phillies mascot known as the Phillie Phanatic, to perform for a Mustangs game and this chance encounter set Pace’s journey in motion.
“At the end of the game he (Burgoyne) says to me, ‘Vincent, you are too good to stay at this level. I could see you going pro.’ He then connects me with the original Phillie Phanatic, David Raymond, who now runs Raymond Entertainment Group. The rest is history.”
After his time in St. Joseph, Vincent moved to Tulsa to work for the Tulsa Drillers in the Texas League, the Double-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers, as their mascot Hornsby.
“When I moved to Tulsa it was very difficult,” Pace said. “I was broken just from personal life issues, but what kept me together was God and Hornsby. It was hard a lot of time I had wanted to give up, but I would get in suit and by the time I was done with the game I felt completely better. The suit was my outlet. When I get in the costume, I turn off Vincent and turn on Hornsby.”
After working in Tulsa from 2011 to the end of their season in 2017, Vincent is prepared to set out on yet another journey as he heads farther south to Miami. From a young kid misbehaving in class to a professional mascot working in Miami, Vincent has found his place.
“I always was a guy who wanted to be the center of attention, and I love being an inspiration to people. I’m excited for this next chapter in my life.”