Watching the Kastaways practice, it quickly becomes clear that this band is all about the Clam. Sir Nigel the Rat might be the frontman and attention hog. Herman might be the lead-singer and actual hog. Spike Porcupine and Pete Puffin might even provide the band's true musicality.
But you can't take your eyes off the clam. Clarence, cool as the vanilla ice cream blob he resembles under his oversize shades, holds everything together behind the drum kit, making sure things don't go off the rails when, say, the band transitions from "Pretty Woman" into "Is She Really Going out with Him." He is the very picture of serenity.
>> SLIDESHOW: The Kastaways <<
That is, until he gets up from behind his kit during a quick break in rehearsal. "Dude," says Jonathan Wyman, on hand to tune the PA system the band will be using out front of Hadlock Field this summer, "you're Porky Pigging!"
That's right. Clarence has forgotten to don his polka-dotted pants again.
By the time they make their debut Saturday, April 14, drawing crowds on the Hadlock plaza starting two hours before first pitch at the Sea Dogs game, a plan is in place for making sure Clarence is fully clothed. They've also developed a setlist of crowd pleasers: "Sweet Caroline," where the Puffin gets to show off his pipes from behind the keyboard; "Wild Thing," pretty much a necessity for anyone playing within 100 feet of a baseball park ever since Major League; and, of course, "Centerfield."
In fact, since the Kastaways keep rocking until about 15 minutes after the first pitch is delivered, fans were at one point actually hearing "Centerfield" outside and inside the stadium simultaneously. This may be the pinnacle of minor-league baseball entertainment synergy and the reason John Fogarty was put on this Earth.
April 14 was a long time coming, though. After Spike Porcupine, Sir Nigel von Rathbone III, Pete Puffin, Clarence the Clam, and Herman Hogg lost the battle to represent Portland's AA baseball franchise to Slugger the Sea Dog back when the team launched in 1993, things looked pretty bleak. Really, what could be more pathetic than a mascot without a team? What could be worse than getting a sniff of the big time (people were voting for them through a Portland Press Herald ballot and everything!) only to be cast aside in favor of an animal with a tenuous grip on reality?
Seriously. Who ever heard of a Sea Dog?
Luckily, these guys had each other. If they couldn't make it as sideline cheerleaders riding around on the back of four-wheeled vehicles and leading "YMCA" hijinks, they'd try another avenue to stardom. They'd form a band. They'd start from the bottom and work their way up, playing every dive and middle-of-nowhere spot they had to before they made it. They'd walk through the desert (which is hard for a clam, especially) and see if they came out the other side.