Philadelphia Phillies: The Phillie Phanatic and 5 Other Super Mascots
Designed by the creators of the Muppet’s Miss Piggy, this Philadelphia Phillies mascot — the Phillie Phanatic — has become as much a part of fans’ Citizen’s Bank Park experience as eating Chickie and Pete’s crab fries. Named the top mascot in all of sports by Forbes magazine, the Phanatic also received an honorary induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2002.
Who would have ever expected this over-stuffed, furry, bright green (sometimes red), always gawking and rambunctious figure to become a superstar? From his humble birth in the Galapagos Islands, this rare breed burst onto the Philadelphia sports scene on April 25, 1978. It’s fair to say the world has never been the same.
An international celebrity, the Phanatic has made guest appearances in Canada, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Mexico, Japan and Australia. His phans have also watched as he delighted television audiences on the "Today" show and "Good Morning America", among others.
Standing 6-foot-6 and weighing 300 pounds, the Phanatic is hard to miss. With a penchant for cheesesteaks, scrapple, hoagies, and Tastykakes, it’s no wonder he sports a waistline of 90 inches. And if you’re fortunate enough to attract his attention, you’ll most likely experience his long beak, darting tongue, and a hint of island body odor. Not to mention the fact that he usually sits (flops) on top of unsuspecting fans.
The Phinancial side of the Phanatic’s story is little known. In what he describes (somewhat tongue-in-cheek) as the “worst decision of his life", Bill Giles, former Phillies team president and current owner, decided not to copyright ownership of the $3,900 costume. The copyright price was $1,300.
Giles agreed to let the creators, Harrison/Erickson, retain the copyright. Then, in 1981, Giles and the Phillies franchise purchased the team and paid $250,000 for the Phanatic copyright.
Most adult Phanatic phollowers are familiar with Tom Burgoyne, who always travels with the Phanatic. Having learned the art of mascot management, Burgoyne became attached to the Phanatic in 1989 in a backup role. In 1993, he became the Phanatic’s full-time handler.
Not all who experience the Phanatic’s antics feel the love. In 1988, an irate Tommy Lasorda, then manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, assaulted the Phanatic during a nationally-televised game. He lost his composure when the Phanatic stomped on a life-sized dummy wearing Lasorda’s uniform.
Most who encounter the Phanatic can’t resist his charm. Even umpires have had a difficult time maintaining their neutrality. The late umpire, Eric Gregg, was a favorite of the Phanatic. A Philadelphia native, Gregg enthusiastically participated in the Phanatic’s routines, including some great dance numbers.
The Phanatic isn’t the only mascot in baseball. Today, all but four teams have mascots. Here we take a look at some of the other super-mascots that enliven MLB games.
San Francisco Giants' Lou Seal
Lou Seal is the official mascot of the San Francisco Giants and has been a regular part of Giant home games since July 25, 1996. Lou Seal's name is a play on the name "Lucille", and was coined by Todd Schwenk, who won the honor of naming the mascot in a KNBR Sports Radio phone-in contest.
Schwenk named Lou for the seals found in abundance at Fisherman's Wharf. Ironically, Schwenk is an Oakland Athletics fan. In 2008, Forbes name Lou Seal the best mascot in sports.
San Diego Padres' Swinging Friar
One of the oldest mascots in existence, the Swinging Friar has been a mascot for the San Diego Padres since 1958 when the team was still a member of the minor league Pacific Coast League. He was named after Spanish missions settled by Franciscan friars.
Interestingly, the Friar swings a baseball bat as part of his routine, but in some years, he reportedly swings the bat left-handed while swinging right-handed in others. There are those who believe he may be ambidextrous, or even a switch hitter.
Tampa Bay Rays' Raymond
Raymond is the mascot of the Tampa Bay Rays. He is electric blue and wears an oversized pair of sneakers and a backwards baseball cap. Although his origin is vague, he is rumored to have been born somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico.
His residence during the season is said to be in a private condominium inside Tropicana Field. This is almost certainly a step-up from his humble beginnings.
Baltimore Orioles' Bird
The Baltimore Orioles' Bird was "hatched" on April 6, 1979. His birth was a public affair in the then-Orioles ballpark, Memorial Stadium. Emerging from a giant egg, he immediately began to entertain Orioles fans. The Bird's favorite foods are — not surprisingly — bird seeds in huge quantities, and an occasional crab cake.
Cleveland Indians' Slider
The Cleveland Indians' Slider is probably best known for falling six feet off an outfield wall during a 1995 American League Championship game, the result of which was torn knee ligaments. This resilient, fun-loving, purplish-hued mascot is colorful and comical with a large yellow nose and shaggy eyebrows.
He was inducted into the Mascot Hall of Fame in 2008.
Related:The Phillie Phanatic and 5 Other Super Mascots