What Makes a Great MLB Mascot?

Baseball is all about the action on the field but sometimes a team needs a rallying call to push them to a higher level and that’s where a mascot can play an important role. Mascots have been entertaining MLB crowds and getting teams pumped up ever since 1964 when Mr. Met first appeared at the opening of the New York Mets’ Shea Stadium. But what makes one mascot more successful than another?

The On-Field Influence of Mascots

Some have credited Clark the Cub as being a vital part of the Chicago Cubs' recent revival including breaking their 108-year curse to win the 2016 World Series. Clark was introduced in 2014 and the team has enjoyed a sustained period of success ever since. The influence of club mascots on results may not be the deciding factor, especially when you consider the Cubs are now +7000 in the MLB odds on bet365 for the World Series, but there have certainly been games where mascots have raised the atmosphere to fever pitch ahead of some big turnarounds. In most cases, a bad mascot is deemed to be better than having no mascot at all. However, the current World Series favorites, the Los Angeles Dodgers (priced at +400) are one of only three mascot-less teams in the league.

The Best Mascot of Them All

To discover what makes a great mascot, it makes sense to look at the best of them all. Phillie Phanatic was introduced as the Philadelphia Phillies mascot back in 1978 and is consistently ranked as the best mascot in Major League Baseball, and is one of the most iconic in all US sports. Phillie Phanatic works on so many levels: he has a fun back story, he appeals to adults and children, and he is wildly entertaining. Crucially, he also has that ability to lift the atmosphere at key moments in a game.

So, who is Phillie Phanatic? Well, he is a large green flightless bird who hails from the Galapagos Islands. He has a trumpet-shaped beak, an extendable tongue, knows martial arts and drives around in an all-terrain vehicle. He spends the games interacting with the home crowd and mocking the opposition players and coaches. He has been known to arrive via parachute and on horseback. Sometimes, he even fires hot dogs from an air-powered cannon.

Cultural Appeal

Phillie Phanatic is a far cry from the team’s originals mascots who were two children dressed in traditional 18th-century clothing. The club’s management quickly realized that a large fluffy bird with a larger-than-life personality would have wider appeal and improve the atmosphere at the stadium. The fluffy green bird has since appeared in The Simpsons, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, 30 Rock, The David Letterman Show and the Rocky Balboa movie. He has been on the sidelines for five World Series and six no-hitters, including Roy Halladay’s perfect game in 2010, and he is one of only five MLB mascots to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

While some may still criticize them, mascots have become a key part of MLB culture and can really make a difference to the whole ball-game experience. They also play a big part in community life, appearing at schools and charity events, and forming important connections between the teams and the public.