Phillie Phanatic: Wikis

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The Phillie Phanatic makes an appearance during the Phillies-Tigers Spring Training game at Bright House Networks Field in Clearwater, Florida on March 11, 2007.

The Phillie Phanatic (also called the Philly Phanatic) is the official mascot of the Philadelphia Phillies Major League Baseball team. A fat furry green creature that somewhat resembles a bird from the rear view with a cylindrical beak containing a tongue that sticks out. He was created by Harrison/Erickson of New York City (now known as Acme Mascots), who have had ties with Jim Henson's Muppets and the team's marketing and promotions department during the winter after the 1977 season by a young executive named Dennis Lehman, who thought that the team needed a mascot similar to San Diego's Famous Chicken. Instead of a number on the back of his uniform shirt (jersey) he wears a star.

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Profile

The character is named for the fanatical fans of the team after an incident during the third game of the 1977 National League Championship Series played at Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium, in which fans drove Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Burt Hooton into losing his composure after he complained to umpire Bob Engel over balls and strikes (he was removed from the game, but the Dodgers went on to win the game, and ultimately, the series). Another reason he was created, according to current owner and former team vice president Bill Giles was to bring more families to The Vet, as some of the more inebriated fans were involved in various fights when the team was doing well or poorly.[1]

The Phanatic replaced "Philadelphia Phil" and "Philadelphia Phillis", a pair of siblings dressed in 18th-century garb to invoke the city's revolutionary spirit from 1776. The pair were in the team logo from 1976 through 1978, and were part of the team's "Home Run Spectacular" at The Vet from 1971 through 1979. They reappeared with their replacement — the Phanatic — as the Phillies celebrated their final year at Veterans Stadium in 2003, including opening day and the final game.[2]

In his book Pouring Six Beers At A Time, Giles wrote of the worst decision of his life when it came to the creation of the Phanatic. The design would cost $5,200 (US) for both the costume and the copyright ownership, or $3,900 just for the costume with Harrison/Erickson retaining the copyright. Giles chose to just buy the costume. Five years later, when Giles and his group of investors bought the team from Ruly Carpenter, the franchise paid $250,000 to Harrison/Erickson for the copyright.

The Phillie Phanatic dressed as Rocky Balboa during a game at Veterans Stadium on Opening Day, 1986.

Debut

The Phanatic debuted on April 25, 1978, at The Vet, when the Phils played the Chicago Cubs. He was formally introduced to the public on the "Captain Noah and His Magical Ark" show, on WPVI-TV, by sports analyst and then-Phillies player Tim McCarver, who was doing promotional work for the team, in addition to being the "designated catcher" for Steve Carlton. McCarver gave the Phanatic the title of "baseball's best mascot".[citation needed] The Phanatic was also voted "best mascot ever" by Sports Illustrated and its publication for younger readers, Sports Illustrated for Kids.[citation needed]

The Phanatic was originally portrayed by David Raymond — who was then working as an intern in the team's front office — for fifteen years, from 1978 to 1993. Raymond's father is retired Delaware Blue Hens Hall of Fame coach Harold "Tubby" Raymond. The elder Raymond was once quoted as saying "I used to be known as the head football coach of the Fighting Blue Hens, but now I will forever be known as the father of a green transvestite!"

The Phillie Phanatic with the Montreal Expos' Andres Gallaraga in 1987.

Current status

As of 2010, Tom Burgoyne serves as the Phanatic's "best friend". The Phanatic rides around on an ATV, being the first professional mascot to do so, on the artificial turf of The Vet, and now, with regular tires, on the grass at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillie Phanatic is one of the most popular and most easily recognized mascots in all of sports.[citation needed] He has a Japanese counterpart from the Hiroshima Toyo Carp named Slyly. In 2005, Raymond founded the Mascot Hall of Fame, and the Phanatic was inducted as a charter member of the Class of 2005. Burgoyne has written six children's books featuring the Phanatic that the team has published since 2003. A seventh will be published about his return to his "birthplace" in 2010.

A recurring character on the animated television show The Simpsons is called the Capital City Goofball and heavily resembles the Phanatic.

One week before the Phillies had their 2006 opener, the Phanatic was "dyed" red as part of the team's week-long promotion to "Paint the Town Red" as he was "dipped into a special paint" made by a team sponsor - MAB Paints (now Sherwin-Williams) - and was changed from green to red. He returned to his regular color in time for the season opener on April 3 of that year. This was repeated for the 2007 season, as he became red at a Philadelphia Fire Department station (with help from his backup, Matt Mehler in the green outfit) to help raise funds for smoke alarms in Philadelphia, and over $4,000 was raised. On April 2, he returned to his green hue in time for the opener. This was repeated, starting March 24, 2008 and March 30, 2009, as the theme of "Paint the Town Red Week" those years was volunteerism.

He appeared in the closing credits of the film Rocky Balboa (2006).

In 2010, an assortment of 5 feet (1.5 m) tall, 100 pounds (45 kg) fiberglass statues are being painted by artists and displayed throughout Philadelphia with all monies raised going to Phillies' Charities.[3]

In a recent episode of "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia", the Phillie Phanatic appeared and was referred throughout the episode as the "Phillie Frenetic", to prevent the main characters from being sued. In the episode, Charlie Kelly was dressed up as Greenman and ended up fighting the Phillie Phanatic after a misunderstanding prompting Philadelphia fans to support the Phanatic and beat upon Charlie. Later in the episode Charlie announces that he would like to counter-sue Major League baseball and the Phillie Phanatic stating "...he has a stranglehold on the mascot scene...". Charlie is subsequently chased out of the court house.

The Phillie Phanatic is one of only three mascots in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY, along with Youppi and the San Diego Chicken. However, their inclusion is not considered to be official.

The Phillie Phanatic in the stands of Veterans Stadium on Opening Day, 1986.

Trademark pranks and activities

  • He ritually taunts the visiting team, dancing provocatively in front of their dugout, and smashing or stomping on an object, such as a batting helmet, representing the team.
  • Standing on the roof of the Phillies dugout, he leads the crowd in attempts to "hex" the opposing pitcher, which led to the short-lived "Whammy Hand" used in the 2007 National League Division Series against the Colorado Rockies.
  • Occasionally he takes pitching practice in the bullpen. This is announced on the stadium video screen.
  • During pre-game practice, he has been known to steal fielders' gloves and throw them to fans.
  • The Phanatic had a favorite umpire in the late Eric Gregg, and would greet him enthusiastically on the field when Gregg was in charge.
  • He sometimes shoots hot dogs into the stands using the Hatfield Hot Dog Launcher.[4]

Notable events

Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda famously assaulted the Phillie Phanatic during a nationally televised game after the Phanatic stomped on a life sized dummy donned with Lasorda's uniform.

The Phanatic also has the dubious distinction of being the most sued mascot in sports. Most notably, the Phillies had to pay a judgment of $2.5 million to a man at a paint store event when the Phanatic jumped the patron with a rough-house bear hug, from which the man sustained serious back injuries.[5]

The Phillie Phanatic's head disappeared from the Wachovia Center during the Phillies' Final Pieces charity sale and auction in 2004. Tom Burgoyne had taken off the costume for a break then found the head missing when he returned. One week later someone anonymously called a disc jockey, saying he found the head and that he would bring it to the radio station. Police arrested Bernard Bechtel, 37, of Whitehall Township, Lehigh County, after he brought the $3,000 head to the station. Bechtel was charged with felony theft.

In November of 2009, the Phanatic was part of a bit on The Late Show with David Letterman called Get To Know the Phillie Phanatic.

The Phillie Phanatic with fans at Veterans Stadium at a Camera Day pre-game event in 1987.

The Phanatic was appeared in a cameo in an episode of Fox's The Simpsons.

He also appeared as an answer to a question on Discovery's Cash Cab.

Relation to other mascots

In 1989, Orlando's NBA expansion team, the Magic, was founded largely through the efforts of former Philadelphia 76ers General Manager Pat Williams. Williams not only brought his considerable basketball expertise to bear on the new franchise, he also brought with him a taste of Philadelphia when he pitched the idea of Stuff, a furry green dragon with uncanny similarities to the Phillie Phanatic, to be the team's official mascot. In fact, when Williams staged the "birth" of Stuff at an Orlando event, the man inside the Magic Dragon was none other than Dave Raymond, himself.[6]

Phanatic store at the ballpark

Honors and awards

In 2009, the Phanatic was one of several recipients of the Great Friend to Kids (GFTK) Awards, given by the Please Touch Museum (the Children's Museum of Philadelphia).[7]

See also

References

USAToday.com > Baseball

External links

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