The Phanatic on March 8, 2016
|Description||Large, furry, green creature|
|Origin of name||Phanatical Philadelphia phans|
|First seen||April 25, 1978|
|Hall of Fame||2005|
The Phillie Phanatic is the official mascot for the Philadelphia Phillies Major League Baseball team. He is a large, furry, green bipedal flightless bird with an extendable tongue. According to his official biography, the Phanatic is originally from the Galápagos Islands and is the Phillies' biggest fan. He performs various routines to entertain fans during baseball games at Citizens Bank Park and makes public relation and goodwill appearances for the Phillies. The Phanatic is widely acknowledged as one of the best ballpark mascots, and is arguably the most recognizable mascot in all of North American sports.
During the winter after the 1977 season, Dennis Lehman, who along with the Philadelphia Phillies Promotions Director, Frank Sullivan, thought the team needed a mascot similar to the Padres' San Diego Chicken, created the Phanatic with help from Harrison/Erickson of New York City (now known as Acme Mascots), which had ties with Jim Henson's Muppets. Instead of a number on the back of his jersey, he wears a star. The character was named for the fanatical fans of the team.
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 as the Phillies celebrated their final year at Veterans Stadium in 2003, including opening day and the final game.
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 locally produced children's show "Captain Noah and His Magical Ark" by then-Phillies player Tim McCarver, who was doing promotional work for the team.
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 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 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 the late Delaware Blue Hens Hall of Fame coach Tubby Raymond. Since 1993, Tom Burgoyne has portrayed the Phanatic, although in public - in order to retain the illusion that the Phanatic is a real creature - Burgoyne maintains that he is only the Phanatic's "best friend."
A major change occurred in the Phanatic's portrayal because Raymond is left-handed while Burgoyne is right-handed---despite Raymond's desire that his replacement be left-handed.
The Phanatic rides around on an ATV. During games, the Phanatic wanders the stadium, greeting fans and humorously mocking supporters of the opposition. The Phanatic performs a number of regular routines on the field before the game and between innings. Some of these routines are:
- Taunting the visiting team by dancing provocatively in front of their dugout, mocking the actions of their players, and smashing or stomping on an object, such as a batting helmet, representing the team.
- Standing on the roof of the Phillies dugout between halves of the seventh inning for "The Phanatic Dance" and remaining on the dugout roof for the home half of the inning to "hex" the opposing pitcher.
- Warming up in the bullpen.
- Shooting hot dogs into the stands using a pneumatic gun attached to his ATV.
- Visiting the various broadcast booths and committing various pranks such as pouring popcorn on the broadcasters, spraying Silly String on them, or serving them Philly cheesesteaks.
- Buffing the heads of any bald fans who happen to be sitting near him in the stands.
His mother, Phoebe Phanatic, occasionally appears on-field with the Phanatic. He also has a younger cousin Phred, and a girlfriend Phiona who are rarely seen.
The Phanatic's favorite umpire was the late Eric Gregg, a Philadelphia native, and he would greet him enthusiastically on the field when Gregg was in charge. Gregg would often play along with the Phanatic between innings, sometimes dancing with him or otherwise participating in his routines.
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". He was "dipped into a special paint" made by a team sponsor MAB Paints (now Sherwin-Williams) and changed from green to red. He returned to his regular color in time for the season opener for that year. This was repeated for the 2007 season, as he became red at a Philadelphia Fire Department station to help raise funds for smoke alarms in Philadelphia, raising over $4,000. "Paint the Town Red Week" has been repeated prior to the 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 seasons.
There is a running gag where the Phanatic humorously mocks opposition players and they would steal his ATV keys in retaliation. However, the Phanatic's antics are not always popular with opposition players and coaches. The Dodgers' Tommy Lasorda in particular did not like the Phanatic's mocking of the Dodgers. In 1988, he assaulted the Phillie Phanatic during a nationally televised game after the Phanatic stomped on a life-sized dummy wearing Lasorda's uniform (reportedly provided by Dodger infielder Steve Sax).
In popular culture
The Phanatic appeared on the television series Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? in Phind that Phanatic where The Phanatic is kidnapped by Top Grunge.
The Phanatic appeared on the episode of the television series Jon and Kate Plus 8 titled "Baseball Game with Daddy", where Jon took Cara and all three boys to a Phillies game.
The Phanatic's head disappeared during the Phillies' "Final Pieces" charity sale and auction in 2004. Tom Burgoyne had taken off the costume for a break and found the head missing when he returned. One week later, someone anonymously called a local radio station claiming that he found the head and would bring it to the radio station. Police arrested and charged Bernard Bechtel with felony theft after he brought the $3,000 head to the station.
In March 2009, the Phanatic appeared on The Simpsons in the episode "Gone Maggie Gone", greeting a party of nuns disembarking from a ship at the future site of Philadelphia. In the episode "Dancin' Homer", there is a mascot that looks similar to the Phanatic, the Capital City Goofball.
The Phanatic was mimicked in an episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia called "The World Series Defense". In the episode, Charlie's "Green Man" challenges that the "Phrenetic" (as it is referred to in the episode) should not be the only mascot for the Phillies. He is promptly put in his place by the "Phrenetic". In an interview with Angelo Cataldi, Tom Burgoyne revealed that Major League Baseball declined to allow the Phanatic to be used in the episode. Charlie references this at the conclusion of the episode, attempting to file a countersuit against Major League Baseball due to the fact that he has to call the mascot the "Phrenetic" when he knows its name is the "Phanatic".
In 2015, the podcast 99% Invisible did an episode about the evolution of mascots focusing on the creation of the Phanatic.
The Phanatic was also on an episode of the show The Goldbergs in 2015 called "The Lost Boy", and made a cameo appearance on College GameDay when the ESPN show visited Philadelphia for a matchup between Temple and Notre Dame. It reappeared in a 2018 episode of The Goldbergs.
In 2005, David Raymond founded the Mascot Hall of Fame, and the Phanatic was inducted as a charter member. Since 2003, Burgoyne has written several children's books, published by the team, featuring the Phanatic.
In 2010, an assortment of 5 feet (1.5 m) tall, 100 pounds (45 kg) fiberglass statues were painted by artists and placed on display throughout Philadelphia from April through August with all monies raised going to Phillies' Charities.
In 2015, Good Morning America bestowed the honor of the best mascot in baseball on the Phanatic.
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 introduced Stuff, a furry green dragon with similarities to the Phillie Phanatic, as the team's official mascot. When Williams staged the "birth" of Stuff at an Orlando event, the man inside the Stuff was Dave Raymond.
In September 2018, the Philadelphia Flyers introduced their new mascot, Gritty. On September 28, 2018, Gritty hung out with the Philly Phanatic at Citizens Bank Park. Since then, the two have been featured on tee shirts, including the one Bryce Harper wore when he arrived at Citizens Bank Park.
Phanatic store at the ballpark
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- ""Phanatic Around Town" Summer Promotion". VisitPhilly.com. Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation. Archived from the original on July 27, 2011. Retrieved September 3, 2010.
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- Schmitz, Brian (April 17, 2009). "The Orlando Magic have many connections to the city of Philadelphia and their playoff foe 76ers". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved October 11, 2010.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Phillie Phanatic.|
- Phanatic profile (Phillies official website)
- Brady, Erik (July 25, 2002). Call to Hall suits Phillie Phanatic just fine (about the donation of a Phanatic outfit to the Baseball Hall of Fame). USA Today. Retrieved 2010-10-07.
- The Woman Behind Miss Piggy - Smithsonian Magazine, an interview with Bonnie Erickson