Meet Australia's LLWS mascot: Joey the kangaroo

Inflatable, yellow animal goes everywhere with the team

Meet Australia's LLWS mascot: Joey the kangaroo

The players from Hills Little League in Sydney, Australia have been on quite a ride this summer, and they've brought someone unique along to help them enjoy their journey: Joey.

But Joey isn't a friend, family member or even fervent supporter; Joey, it turns out, is a large, yellow, inflatable kangaroo.

"If you haven't already gathered," manager Les Stockdale said after his team's first game in this year's tournament, "Australians are pranksters, to say the least. We try to keep it as fun as possible all the time."

According to Stockdale, during the regional tournament in Australia back in June -- that's when the country's Little League World Series qualifier is held, given the difference in seasons -- the team began to distribute its own awards for goofy behavior. Make a silly mistake during a game? You get a jester hat. Watch strike three go by? You get the Frozen award, a pink cap depicting characters from the hit movie.

And just before the team arrived in Williamsport, Australia's coaching staff set out to find an unofficial mascot, one that could also keep the kids in line while they were away from home.

"These kids compete on a daily level in stupidity," Stockdale said. "So we thought, we need something to combine a mascot for us and a punishment, as well."

Enter Joey, who is given daily to the player responsible for the most outrageous antics in the dorms.

"Joey's enormous, and he's really awkward to carry. When it started out, the first kid had to carry it everywhere with him," Stockdale added.

But not long after, the punishment morphed into a reward, when a trip to the Lycoming Mall revealed Joey's growing popularity.

"Everyone loves the Australians over here," said Stockdale. "[The players] soon found out that Joey attracts a lot of attention. All of the girls want photos with him, and it just so happens that whoever's carrying [the kangaroo] gets the photos. So they started doing stupid things just to get Joey."

And now that the team has been winning with Joey in its corner, he's certainly here to stay. After all, as Stockdale says, the true measure of the team isn't what each individual does on or off the field, but "what they do as a unit."

"When they come together and show their camaraderie," he said, "the results are there."

Allison Duffy-Davis is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.