"My three kids are more interested in him than the players," says Monica Sandberg, who followed her young children as they danced by Thunder's side. "He's silly, and kids love silly."
When Thunder disappeared after the race, there was unrest in the stands until it was announced that he had been injured. Leaving no subtlety unturned, the Lake Elsinore folks then played a video montage of Thunder accompanied by the sort of sentimental music that made you think he was dead.
Of course, this only set up the cheers for the next night, when Thunder made a triumphant return while being played by another employee.
"We're entertainers, and isn't sports all about entertainment?" says Gillett, who plays several characters.
Sports is also about the luck, which is pretty much how Lake Elsinore came to acquire all these mascots in the first place.
Last year, a local costume shop went out of business and offered costumes for $50 apiece. Thus, the Lobster, the June Cat and the Grounds Crew Gorilla were born.
Jackpot the Rabbit was a costume left behind by a former sponsor.
Scoop is a human ice cream cup given to them by an ice cream store.
Hamlet, the light blue sea creature, is an old Storm mascot that is supposed to be some sort of dragon from the nearby lake.
"The Loch Ness monster of Lake Elsinore?" Gardenier says. "Works for me."
The banana was purchased this year as a dance partner for -- surprise -- the Gorilla.
Then there is the Robot, which was something that Gillett built this year for '80s Night. Great idea, but not very practical, as he learned earlier when he lost his head.
Then there is Rally Cop and Party Boy, two truly human mascots who race on to the field at odd times and act racy.
Rally Cop, who is Gillett dressed like an officer, runs out in the ninth inning of a close game and throws foam baseballs inscribed with insults into the opposing team's dugout.
Party Boy is an intern who runs out and does a male strip tease whenever the skit requires that one of the mascots be distracted.
Various employees play the characters, with the only requirement being that they must be willing to go through several shirts and lose several pounds each night in the 100-degree heat.
"You drink a lot of water," Gardenier says. "And you hope the kids don't hit you where it hurts."
The most appreciative kids are Storm players, who howl nightly at the antics.
"Face it, baseball can be boring; we love our mascots," says Jeremy Hefner, the Storm's pitching ace. "It's the other teams that get bothered."
On this summer evening, the other team doesn't seem bothered, plays hard, Lake Elsinore and Stockton battling pitch for pitch until the very end, when the game reaches its climax.
This occurs, of course, when Jackpot the Rabbit finishes his scoreboard work and walks across the field to return to the locker room.
Kids line the railings to wave and scream and ask for his autograph. He stops for every child, poses for every photo, and by the time he drags his overheated, exhausted body into the tunnel, the stadium is empty, leaving many with only one unanswered question.
Follow Plaschke on twitter.com/plaschke