Nationals Hatch Older Mascot

Posted March 3, 2009 at 3:07pm

Look out Nats fans! Your little feathered friend has grown up.

Screech, the Washington Nationals’ baby eagle mascot, apparently had a growth spurt during the off-season. Screech’s new look was revealed at the ESPN Zone on Monday. Clint Khoury, the Nationals’ in-game host, warned the crowd that Screech was a little nervous about the changes, but the mascot was not shy about busting a move to “Thriller— and various other songs while he celebrated his newfound young adulthood.

“In 2005, when he hatched, we said Screech would grow up one day — and now he has,— said Chartese Burnett, the Nationals’ vice president of communications. The mascot got his name because from birth he was always screeching about his favorite baseball team. While Screech may age in the future, this is likely to be his permanent look. “He’s a teenager. We want him to stay young, hip and relevant. We don’t want him to age too quickly,— Burnett said.

The Nationals also rolled out a slideshow called “Screech Through the Years,— which followed the bird’s “fluttering life,— as Khoury put it. It started with Screech’s center field hatching on April 17, 2005, and ended with his new look. Slapshot, the eagle mascot for the Washington Capitals hockey team, was there to show support for his friend. The two gave each other a big bird hug after Screech’s dance.

“Look at him: He’s more outgoing,— said Khoury, who explained that Screech’s look is a definite improvement. Screech can also take off his hat and throw it up in the air at the games now because his hat is no longer sewn on his eagle head. Screech intends to make several appearances in the area through the month.

Screech’s look is not the only improvement for the Nationals. Burnett noted that there are also renovations under way for the park’s Red Porch restaurant and a new concession stand as well as new players joining the team. “It’s a great way to start the season,— Burnett said.