Toledoan displays love of city, team in inkWritten by Sarah Ottney | Editor in Chief | firstname.lastname@example.org
A slip-on mesh tattoo sleeve featuring Mud Hens imagery is popular at the Swamp Shop — but some fans take their devotion to another level.
Toledo native Tim Marshall, 32, has a tattoo on his right calf depicting mascot Muddy driving a Jeep.
“Some people might say it’s kind of ridiculous to put a Mud Hen driving a Jeep on your leg, but when I think of this place it’s an exact representation of that whole idea,” Marshall said. “If you don’t think of the Mud Hens when you think of Toledo, you probably don’t know much about where you live.”
The tattoo also incorporates other iconic Toledo images, including the High-Level Bridge, the Glass City skyline, a dockside chain fence and a scale from Toledo Scale with the company’s slogan “No springs, honest weight.”
The tattoo, which took about 20 hours over four sessions, was finished about two months ago, Marshall said.
Toledo native Tony Touch, a tattoo artist at Infinite Art Tattoo on Secor Road, inked the design, which was a collaborative creative effort between Marshall and Touch.
“It was his idea to do the old-school portside chain link fence,” Marshall said. “Toledo Scale and the ‘No springs, honest weight,’ was also his original idea, which was a great touch. He had the idea of putting M*A*S*H on the license plate.”
Touch, who has been tattooing for 10 years, said he posted a photo of Marshall’s tattoo on Instagram that got 150 likes in three hours and more comments than any other photo he’s posted.
“I love it. I’m actually a little jealous he has it and I don’t,” Touch said, laughing. “It was just a fun piece.”
Marshall said the tattoo was motivated by Toledo pride, the same reason Marshall and his friend Brandon Erickson started Glass Wear, a business making Toledo -themed T-shirts.
“For me it’s just about not being afraid of saying I love where I’m from,” Marshall said. “Whether I live here forever or I don’t, it’s always going to be my home and where I’m from and I’m proud of it.”
“When I was in high school there was not a lot of hometown pride; everyone just wanted to get out of Toledo. But I think the younger generation is making Toledo our own,” Touch said. “The Mud Hens have a lot to do with Downtown being alive again.”
Marshall, who has many other tattoos, including a full back piece and two arm sleeves, said the Toledo-themed tattoo started with a black outline of the state of Ohio he got several years ago. As he noticed more and more people getting a similar tattoo, he wanted to make his stand out.
“If you go to the Attic [on Adams] on a weekend night, you’ll see six people with them,” Marshall said. “That’s why I kind of added to mine. It was becoming too much like everyone else. I just wanted to take mine to the next step.”
Ohio tattoos are more common than Mud Hens tattoos, Touch said.
“There seems to be a lot of Ohio tattoos, but that’s the first Mud Hens one I’ve done,” said Touch, who said he’s touched up a Mud Hens tattoo for a customer before but has never seen one as elaborate as Marshall’s. “We get some sports teams. A lot of [Detroit] Lions. [Detroit] Red Wings once in a while. When the Steelers won the Super Bowl we were doing about three a week, but that’s faded out.”
Marshall, who drives a Jeep when he’s not riding his bike, is an avid Tigers fan and enjoys seeing Detroit players rehabbing with the Mud Hens.
“They come down and you get to see the guys you might not be able to see if you can’t afford $60 a ticket in Detroit,” Marshall said. “I just like the atmosphere and the convenience and the value.
“Downtown is always alive when there’s a game,” Marshall added. “I love the after part just as much as the game. Any establishment you go to afterward is packed. It’s awesome to see that.”
Marshall’s fondest Mud Hens memory is catching a ball during a game at Ned Skeldon Stadium with his dad.
“It was the coolest thing,” he said. “I didn’t let it out of my sight for a solid week. I still have it 25 years later.”
Marshall, who got married in August, went to a Mud Hens game as part of his Toledo-themed bachelor party — where he almost caught another ball. His wedding reception was held at The Roost.
“[My wife] Becky and I go whenever we can, which is quite often,” Marshall said. “Every year we do an annual bike to the Hens ride, riding from my house to the stadium. This will be the third year we do it. Last year we stopped at Manhattan’s for Sunday brunch and then went to the game. We always try to incorporate something local in the ride as well.”
Ryan Pollauf, a tattoo artist at Permanently Scarred on West Sylvania Avenue, said he’s done one Mud Hens tattoo, for a Toledo native who was joining the military.
A photo of the tattoo, featuring the old-fashioned Mortimer Mud Hen swinging a nail-studded baseball bat, hangs at the shop.
“The Mud Hens is one of the most, if not the most, well-known and popular minor league teams in sports. It represents Toledo,” Pollauf said. “He wanted to change it up so Muddy looked really mean, so that’s why he’s holding a bat with nails in the end.”
Pollauf, a Toledo native who has been tattooing for almost 12 years, said he plans to get a Mud Hens tattoo himself, but hasn’t decided on the exact design. He also has several friends who have been talking about getting Mud Hens tattoos, but so far none have followed through.
“I don’t think it’s super common, but I am supposed to do it on some more people, so it’s just a matter of time,” Pollauf said. “I was eventually going to get one myself.”
Pollauf said he likes the history and strategy of baseball.
“Most people find baseball completely boring, but I see it like a chess match. There’s a lot more going on than what it looks like,” Pollauf said.
Pollauf’s fondest Mud Hens memory also took place at Ned Skeldon Stadium.
“The first game my dad ever took me to, at the Rec Center, we were walking in and a foul ball came over the stands. I got the ball just by walking in,” Pollauf said.
Marshall said not a lot of people have seen his tattoo yet because it hasn’t been warm enough for shorts, but he expects it to be a conversation piece.
“Soon enough, when the shorts come out, I will wear it with pride,” Marshall said.
For fans not interested in permanent ink, the Swamp Shop’s tattoo sleeve is available online or in the Swamp Shop. It costs $6.95 and is especially popular with teens, said Craig Katz, Mud Hens director of merchandise and licensing.