The Phillie Phanatic is thrilled to ditch his wings, court cases and ‘big butt,’ says his ‘best friend’
What does the Phanatic think about having his old garb back? Tom Burgoyne says the mascot is “devolving back to something that actually worked better in the crowd.”
The first big acquisition of what should be an active offseason for the Phillies was not a shutdown reliever, a power bat, or a smooth center fielder. It was instead the team’s court settlement last week to regain the rights to the traditional Phillie Phanatic costume.
The mascot’s star-eyed, winged costume from the past two seasons is gone — outta here — thanks to the team’s settlement with the Phanatic’s creators, who claimed they had the rights to send Philly’s beloved green furball into free agency. The reimagined Phanatic — or “P2,″ according to court documents — will meet the same fate as Phil and Phillis and Phred, the Phanatic’s baby cousin whom we had erased from our memories until he popped up in the court case.
The Phillies said they “welcome the original Phillie Phanatic back with open arms.” The mascot creators — famed puppeteers Bonnie Erickson and Wayde Harrison — said they “are thrilled to see the original Phanatic back where he should be.”
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But what does the Phanatic think about having his old garb back? We spoke last week to Tom Burgoyne, who is the Phanatic — I mean, the Phanatic’s best friend.
Matt Breen: So was the Phanatic afraid of free agency?
Tom Burgoyne: No, he wasn’t worried about going anywhere else. He was born in the Galapagos, came to Philadelphia, and Philadelphia is where he will remain.
MB: What else could he do anyway?
TB: Exactly. He wasn’t going to head to New York. That just wasn’t going to work for the Phanatic.
MB: Would the Phanatic’s best friend go with him in free agency?
TB: Well, I’m starting to wonder about “best friend.” Is it me or is it Bryce Harper? He’s thrilled that Bryce is the MVP but I’m starting to wonder about my “best friend” status. I think Harper’s kind of moving in on that.
MB: How’s he feel to be back?
TB: He’s a little confused. A couple years ago, we thought he started evolving — being from the Galapagos Islands, where Charles Darwin came up with all of his theories on evolution and adaptation and survival of the fittest ... which wouldn’t be the Phanatic, by the way. But we thought, “OK, this is part of the evolutionary process.” The Phanatic is a flightless bird and he was growing these things under his arms that we thought would help him fly. That didn’t work. The stars around his eyes? The Phanatic is a big star, but I think that reminded people of Hollywood stars, and the Phanatic is not Hollywood. He’s Philly. And then the big butt? We’re not sure where that came from, but it turns out that it was getting in people’s way. Some of these changes he went through the last couple years have gone away. You could call it evolution but it’s actually de-evolution. The Phanatic is devolving.
MB: Did he not feel like himself in the last two seasons?
TB: That’s the one thing that didn’t change. He was still kind of the same character, still wreaking havoc. The response from the crowd — well, maybe social media where everyone gets their opinion — was the same reaction.
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MB: Does he miss the wings?
TB: No, they were kind of in the way a little bit. I don’t think he even liked that look. The extra wings under his arm. I would say he had a hard time getting through the crowd with the larger butt. Again, it’s all evolution. He’s devolving back to something that actually worked better in the crowd. He can balance himself better and make his way through the rows and seats a little better.
MB: No more court cases?
TB: I think he’s relieved about that. Well, I don’t think he even knew anything about that. In the end, it was all science. It was all evolution.