“If people asked me what the personality of Charlie was, I told them that he is Ball State’s No. 1 fan,” said Mitch Prather. “That’s what I told myself when I was playing the bird.”

For nearly 50 years, Charlie Cardinal has worked to earn the title of “Ball State’s No. 1” by attending sporting events and interacting with students, alumni and community members.

Each year, the athletics department and previous Charlies host tryouts for the next generation, but “once a Charlie, always a Charlie,” said Prather, who served as the mascot from 2013-17.

“While you’re an active Charlie, it’s important to keep your identity a secret because Charlie represents the whole university,” Prather said. “Obviously there is a person under the suit, but a lot of fans forget that, and they start to see Charlie as his own person. When you’re in the suit, its no longer about you.”

Charlie Cardinal was first introduced as Ball State’s mascot in 1969, replacing the original Hoosierion mascot.

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Contact Tier Morrow with comments at tkmorrow@bsu.edu or on Twitter @tiermorrow