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    Louisville native Jeremy Sharfe has been suiting up as Louisville Bats mascot Buddy Bat for the last 16 years.

    “I feel very blessed,” he says. “I know this is cliché and sounds cheesy, but I love what I do.”

    An avid baseball fan, Sharfe is living out his dream, getting to hang out with his favorite players, meeting some of the best people in baseball and watching players like Joey Votto grow into big leaguers. His game nights start about an hour early. “You can typically find me before I get in the costume in the dugout taking in the field,” he says.

    One of the first things Sharfe had to learn as Buddy was how to do the signature for autographs. He jokes with his wife that his handwriting wouldn’t be as neat without the big gloves.

    His favorite nights are ones like Thunder Over Louisville this year, where the crowd was well over 14,000. He loves to entertain a large crowd. If you’ve seen him in action, you know that, even in a big crowd, he makes every interaction feel personal, making sure to get all the pictures with people that he can.

    He’s not so outgoing outside of the suit. “As far as me getting out dancing in front of a crowd without the costume, no way,” he says.

    But that’s sort of how he got his start. As a student at Western Kentucky University, he would dance in the student section at basketball games. “Well, it got to the point where they gave me my own time out during basketball games where I would literally stand in center court and dance like crazy,” he says. Eventually he got a call from WKU’s president asking him to be Big Red, WKU’s mascot. After that, Sharfe ended up as a mascot for Pepsi before finding the role as Buddy. When the Bats are away, a company called Zooperstars sets him up with other professional teams in need of a mascot. He’s traveled to 46 states to perform.

    Sharfe is also a counselor at Doss High School in Louisville, where he’s spent 12 years as an instructional assistant teaching special education and as a resource teacher working with at-risk students. He’s also a full-time husband and father. He has one-year-old twin boys and a six-year-old son who couldn’t be prouder to have his dad as Buddy Bat. “My son walks around telling (other kids at his school), ‘My daddy’s Buddy Bat,’” Sharfe says.

    In his first 10 years as Buddy, he did all 72 home games. He’s taken on fewer games the past six years, averaging about 50 games a season now. But at 39 years old, he doesn’t see himself stepping out of the suit anytime soon.

    “I love doing it,” he says. “It just doesn’t feel like work. It never feels like work.”

    Cover photo by Megan Brewer

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