Cool story here from the New York Times about Dave Raymond, the original Phillie Phanatic, and how he turned that gig into a profitable business.
The Phillie Phanatic, let’s get it straight, is the Greatest. Mascot. Ever.
Way back in the day, when the Phanatic was new and I was young(er), I hired Raymond to come in his costume to a Saturday sidewalk sale at the shopping center in which I owned a bookstore. It was about 95 degrees and incredibly humid that afternoon and he changed in our basement and went there for periodic breaks to avoid fainting and causing life-long emotional scars for all the kids who came to see him.
You know how they say those big heavy costumes get to stink after a while? His was so bad that my own kids, who had the honor of helping him and tending to his needs, fled from the basement, leaving me to do the dirty work.
I do have to comment on this sentence from the story, a bit of lazy writing which gives added life to an ancient and misinformed myth which should have died by now:
At an Eagles game in 1968, fans threw snowballs at a young man wearing a Santa suit.
That “young man” was actually a 19-year old pulled in off the streets because the guy who was to play Santa didn’t show up. He was absolutely terrible and has admitted for the record that the fan reaction was not some sort of normal exhibition by the terrible, awful, inhuman Philadelphia fans, but perfectly justified. It is true, however that one of those throwing snowballs was then Philadelphia Mayor and current Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, a season ticket holder.
The Eagles went 2-12 that year and were wretched. And I saw it all because I was hired to produce the programs for their seven home games on a freelance basis. It was my first major freelance project after quitting my editorial job that summer. Week after week (except one), I had to produce an upbeat magazine following yet another loss. Part of my compensation was a free ticket to home games and the ability to purchase three others at a discount.
That was the last year NFL teams did their own programs, by the way, and ours was judged the best in the league, so there was that.