By Richard Polen
Globe Sports Writer
A young fan at a Joplin Outlaws game was watching from near the third-base dugout when Joe Becker Stadium was transformed into a scene from The Gunfight at the OK Corral.
The fan stood facing his counterpart, who wore a big black hat, black gloves and black chaps over his blue jeans and was nervously twitching the fingers on his right hand. Then, he reached for his holster.
In the blink of an eye, out came a piece of hard candy that the fan snatched from his hand.
Those and other stunts are the work of Angus, the Outlaws’ mascot whose bushy, black eyebrows and thick black mustache instantly capture attention as he mingles with the crowd.
Developing that identity and personality has been the task of Michael Karraker, who will be a junior this fall at Carl Junction High School and serves as the Bulldogs’ mascot.
His interaction and ability to bring smiles to the faces of the Outlaws’ younger fans is one of the qualities that sets him apart from a mascot who, for example, tries to stir up the crowd by standing on the home team’s dugout. And that, in turn, brings a smile to the face of Outlaws general manager Mark Rains.
Although his routine includes elements of mime, Karraker said his version of Angus didn’t come from studying theater or performing arts in high school.
“I’ve been Angus since the beginning of the summer,” Karraker said. “It’s not something you can really learn. Seeing the little kids is amazing. They may be upset, then all of a sudden they see Angus.
“I think about it quite a bit,” he said. “Angus is a cowboy. What do cowboys do? What can I do when I’m out there?”
Angus came to the Outlaws from the Wichita Wranglers, the former Double-A Texas League affiliate of the Kansas City Royals.
After the Wranglers moved in 2008 to Springdale, Ark. and became the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, Rains contacted the Naturals and inquired about the use of their former mascot.
“They had two mascots. They had Angus and a horse,” Rains said. “Two years ago I got in contact with them and they said we could borrow Angus, but we couldn’t have the horse.
“They loaned him to us, but they haven’t asked for him back,” he said. “When they moved to Arkansas, they came up with a new mascot.”
In the meantime, Karraker had been adding to his skills as a mascot since he became Carl Junction’s Bulldog as a freshman. As a sophomore, he was invited to the Capitol One Bowl football game in Orlando, Fla.
Karraker said he is aiming for opportunities to extend his career as a mascot into college.
“I’ve had people talk to me about it when I’ve been at cheerleading camps,” he said. “It’s something I enjoy. I hope to keep doing it.”