Calling The Baseball Reliquary, “what you’d get if you crossed a meeting of hard-core preservationists with the Royal Order of Raccoons,” the LA Times’ Chris Eskine attended the Pasadena-based non-profit’s banquet and took special interest in the toastmaster skills of one Ted Giannoula, aka The San Diego Chicken.

The chicken sounded good, especially considering that he had just flown in that morning. Describing himself as the “Minnie Minoso of mascots,” he talked about his five decades in the game, and how he thought baseball has the greatest sense of humor of any sport.

After all these years, I still get a charge when I first spot the San Diego Chicken — that same visceral reaction you get when you see a very pregnant woman walking down the sidewalk — her innie now an outtie. You poke whoever’s next to you — “Hey, look!” — as if you’re about to witness a miracle, pay attention.

I don’t know that this overstuffed bird quite qualifies as a miracle, but he is a blessing, a gift and — when turned slowly over a spit — one of the tastiest summer meals you could ever hope for.

Halfway through Giannoulas’ speech I start hallucinating about chicken wings, which happens to me at almost every speech, not just those given by poultry. Food fantasies are my go-to place, my mental B-roll. It would be the same fantasy if Nelson Mandela were speaking, or Michelle Bachmann. Maybe even more so.

Suddenly, the chicken is gone and there’s another speaker.