April 25, 2011
Happy birthday to the Phillie Phanatic, who debuted on April 25th, 1978. The Phanatic was recently named the beloved mascot in sports by Forbes Magazine. So how did America’s most beloved mascot get his start?
The Phanatic was created in 1977 because the team wanted a more family-friendly mascot. Their previous mascots, Phil and Phyllis, were created to build upon the bicentennial buzz, but the bicentennial had come and gone, and Phil and Phyllis weren’t inspiring families to bring their kids to the madhouse that was Veteran’s Stadium. The following comes from Bill Giles book, Pouring 6 Beers at a Time:
Denny Lehman, the Phillies director of marketing, periodically traveled with the team. He saw firsthand how much fun the (San Diego) Chicken could create. For two or three years, Denny badgered me to have a real mascot to replace Phil and Phyllis. He explained that the chicken was creating more of a family atmosphere at Jack Murphy and that the number of fights in the stands had decreased dramatically.
In 1978 I relented and asked our promotion director, Frank Sullivan, to contact the people who designed Big Bird on Sesame Street. I asked the designers-Bonnie Erickson and Wade Harrison-to create something fat, green, indefinable, and loveable.
The first rendition was not to my liking. I asked them to make him fatter and his nose bigger. They did. The Phillie Phanatic was born.
The Phanatic debuted on April 25, 1978 against the Cubs.