The Puffy Taco

San Antonio

HIS HEAD IS A TOMATO CHUNK. HIS tortilla shell is surprisingly furry. His feet look like jalapeño peppers. And when kids tackle him during the sixth-inning footrace at the San Antonio Missions’ home games at V. J. Keefe Field, they sometimes send his shredded lettuce and grated cheese flying. What’s not to love about the Puffy Taco, Texas’ most unusual sports mascot? He may not be as lovable as such other cute mascots as San Diego’s Famous Chicken or the Philly Fanatic. After all, how can you hug a taco? But the kids make do by exchanging high fives with the silent Puffy. The Puffy Taco (played by Jimmy Gonzales) was dreamed up by David Oldham, the assistant general manager of the Texas League franchise, in an effort to sell a billboard to Henry’s Puffy Tacos, a small taco shop close to the ballpark. Oldham proposed that the shop sponsor the Puffy Taco to race a lucky fan around the bases at home games. It may be silly, but it is fun, and above all, it is good business, according to Oldham. “Our job is to create an environment that is entertaining,” he says, “rather than to focus solely on winning and losing.” That’s smart, considering that San Antonio hasn’t won a Texas League pennant in ten years. Says Oldham: “Most of our fans don’t know who is playing or what affiliation the team is. But they know the Puffy Taco.”

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