Ricart and the Peterborough Petes present Superfan Cameron Hughes on Thursday night when the Petes take on the Oshawa Generals in their 2012-13 season and home opener at the Peterborough Memorial Centre at 7:05pm.
Cameron Hughes is a big, imposing redhead with energy to burn, Hughes is a traveling "superfan," paid by teams to whip the crowd into a frenzy, create some fun, and generally manufacture team spirit for the locals.
"I'm that guy—the funny, happy, dancing, possibly very drunk guy you've seen at the ballpark at least once," says Hughes, adding that he himself never drinks on the job unless you count the three Red Bulls he downs as a pre-game ritual.
Baseball teams like the Toronto Blue Jays and the Los Angeles Dodgers pay him an average of $2,000 a game to do his thing, as do N.B.A. teams like the L.A. Lakers and New Orleans Hornets and N.H.L. teams like the Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs. All told, he works about 80 to 90 major- and minor-league games a year, and difficult as it may be to believe, Hughes makes a comfortable six-figure salary just by being a crazy sports fan.
"I basically just play myself," says the 36-year-old Ottawa native. "It's just amazing when you put on a team jersey that people are loyal to, how much they'll cheer you and how much they'll support you."
Needless to say, a career as a traveling sports fan was not something Hughes envisioned when he finished college, even if he had been a mascot for his school team and was an avid supporter of his beloved Ottawa Senators.
A few years after college, Hughes moved to Los Angeles, where he still lives, hoping to make it as an actor. While strutting his superfan skills for fun at a Dodgers game, he was approached by the team about hiring out his services as a fan. Soon acting fell by the wayside and a new career was born.
Hughes initially got his gigs through a booking agent specializing in minor-league mascots and event sideshow or halftime acts. But word of mouth began to spread, and soon he was getting unsolicited offers from across the country.
"It's not just a job, it's something I live to do, so I get antsy sitting in the dugout," says Hughes.
He now has the field largely to himself. While there are a handful of mascots who freelance for different minor-league franchises, there's no one like Hughes—a fair-weather fan who, underneath all that romping and cheering for the home team, is truly loyal to none.
Check out this video on Cameron Hughes.