Try to picture the perfect mascot. It should be soft and fluffy, right? No point in being a mascot if you’re not (looking at you, Billy the Marlin with your pointy nose). It’s friendly and outgoing, which is kind of a given. Finally, it has to be a showstopper; something that not only gets the attention of fans during a dead period in the game but can actually distract them while the game is going on.
If you don’t immediately envision the Phillie Phanatic, there may be something wrong with you. Now, I can’t in good conscious ignore Syracuse’s Otto the Orange, Western Kentucky’s Big Red (Hilltopper?), or the fact that LSU has a real-life tiger on the sidelines at football games. But in the world of professional sports, it doesn’t get any better than the Phanatic, the king of Major League Baseball mascots.
The antics the Phanatic has engaged in and the tricks he’s attempted over the years go above and beyond what any other mascot would even think to try. Sure, Bernie Brewer may ride down a slide when his team hits a home run, but how many mascots have the guts to ride an ATV on the playing field the way the Phanatic has time and time again?
The fearlessness of the Phanatic is what you have to admire the most. No other mascot will flat out embarrass itself as much as Philadelphia’s favorite son. A fan? Yes – look no further than these people:
How many mascots will throw their bodies around for the sake of fans, comedy, or to win a fight with a fellow mascot the way the Phanatic does? To be fair, the amorphous Phanatic has a lot of padding to cushion those falls. But if you got it, flaunt it, right?
“For 28 years, the Phanatic has excelled at the highest level of professional baseball while also embodying the ideals and values of the Italian-American community, and it is our great pleasure to welcome him into the Hall of Fame Class of 2016.”
National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame director George Randazzo, via The Onion
Of course, there is a dark side to the Phillie Phanatic. He’s been sued more times than any other mascot (unofficially, of course, because who would keep track such of such a stat?) and has even hurt people at times. This can’t be condoned, of course, but when you just let it all out the way the Phanatic does, there’s bound to be some repercussions. That’s just life. Besides, if the Phillie Phanatic wasn’t willing to push boundaries, we wouldn’t have so many outrageous memories of him, including this legendary showdown with Tommy Lasorda, one of the most respected men in baseball history.
Yes, you may favor your hometown mascot (we all do). But objectively speaking, is there a better mascot in baseball, or all sports for that matter, than the Phillie Phanatic? We think not.