COEUR d'ALENE - The Moose stole the show, as he's apt to do.
The message from the professional ballplayers was important too, but it played second fiddle to the dancing rack of antlers, who worked the 380 students at Borah Elementary School into a borderline frenzy as part of the Seattle Mariners D.R.E.A.M. Team caravan tour that stopped in Coeur d'Alene Thursday to promote positive thinking and healthy living.
"He always does," said Sean Grindley, M's community program manager, on the Moose's ability to grab the limelight by high-fiving, dancing and shooting confetti across the gym. "It doesn't matter what players we bring."
Yeah, there were baseball players .
Former Mariner catcher Dave Valle, now a broadcaster for the team, joined outfielder Casper Wells and pitcher Charlie Furbush in teaching the youngsters the importance of staying drug-free, motivated, and educated while respecting themselves and others.
"What I want you to remember is how cool it is to be smart," said Valle, who became a school administrator in Bellevue, Wash., after he retired from 13 seasons of catching in the big leagues. "(Your teachers) are here to make you the best person you can possibly be."
Don't get sidetracked from chasing your dreams, the players, wearing their home white uniform tops, told the students.
"I know Casper and I couldn't put on this uniform if we weren't drug free," said Furbush, who was one of six pitchers to combine to no-hit the Los Angeles Dodgers last season.
The annual winter tour, now decades old, not only gave the organization a chance to encourage healthy living for kids, but an opportunity to recruit new fans.
"I never even saw a baseball game," said first-grader Bella Croy, who wants to become an artist or horse trainer when she grows up, but was nonetheless mesmerized by the Moose after it made its grand entrance by shooting streamers all over the gym. "I don't even know what they do."
Coeur d'Alene is the tour's only Idaho stop, and after the assembly it was on to Walla Walla, Wash., for the players and Moose, who has a way of becoming kids' favorite player though he can't play.
It's true. The Moose wanted to become a ballplayer but couldn't hit, catch or pitch. He showed the kids how lousy he was at all three. Did that stop him? No. He made it to the bigs by dancing on dugouts and sheer determination.
But what about the real ballplayers' message about living life by thinking positively, respecting oneself and other and staying motivated to achieve your goals?
"I already knew all that," said student Boston Spear.