A few weeks ago I turned on ESPN to watch a Sportscenter Special about the Phoenix Suns mascot the Gorilla. It was a very interesting story that I won’t go into too much detail about, but the general gist of the story was about how the Gorilla revolutionized NBA mascots with his antics and his aerial, acrobatic dunks. According to the story the Gorilla is made out to be one of the greatest mascots in sports history.
While I do have a new found respect for the Gorilla and all NBA mascots after watching this story, I thought it would be a good idea to give recognition to the mascot who I revere as the greatest in sports, and the one who lends its name to our blog, the Phillie Phanatic. Being a die hard Braves fan, there isn’t much about the Philadelphia Phillies that I can say I admire, the Phanatic is the one BIG exception.
The Phanatic made his debut in the 1978 season, just a few years after the San Diego Chicken began making appearances at the Padres and Chargers games. In an attempt to bring more families to the ballgames the Phillies front office created the mascot based on the extinct dodo birds commonly found in the Galapagos Islands and Jim Henson’s Muppets characters. The Phanatic has been keeping families, coaches, and players entertained for 36 years now with his antics. As my co-author can probably attest, it is one of the coolest experiences for a young kid at a Phillies game to see the Phanatic riding around the field on his ATV, messing with fans of the opposing team, or even dancing in front of opposing players.
The Phanatic was portrayed by David Raymond from 1978-1993 and Tom Burgoyne has portrayed the Phantic since. The Phanatic is such a popular icon that he makes guest appearances on TV shows like the Simpsons, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and the Late Show with David Letterman in 2009. Behind Rocky Balboa, the Phillie Phanatic might just be the biggest Philadelphia icon in the long history of its city.
The Phanatic is one of three mascots to be displayed in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, with Youppi (R.I.P) and the Famous Chicken being the other two worthy of this honor. The Phanatic was voted “Best Mascot Ever” in 2008 by Sports Illustrated Kids and in my own opinion along with a myriad of others this is a title that the Phillie Phanatic deserves.
Here’s to 36 more hilarious and entertaining years!