The Phillie Phanatic is one of the most beloved mascots in sports. You can’t picture the Phillies without the large green creature and he is a charter member of the Mascot Hall of Fame. However, after over 40 years of entertaining Philadelphia baseball fans, the Phanatic is going through some changes and it’s not due to some sort of mid-life crisis.
According to NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jim Salisbury, the Phanatic will have a new look starting this Sunday against the Pirates. It’s nothing drastic, he’ll still be green and have a fun time around the ballpark, but Salisbury acknowledges that the Phanatic will have some “alterations.”
The reason for these alterations is due to a lawsuit by the original creators of the mascot, Bonnie Erickson and Wayde Harrison. They created the original concept of the Phanatic in the 70s but the team bought the rights to the mascot in 1984 and have been him with the help of David Raymond and now Tom Burgoyne ever since. Federal law states that artists are able to renegotiate the rights to their creations after 35 years and that’s where we stand right now.
The Phillies’ rights to the Phillie Phanatic expires on June 15 and because the mascot has been so iconic since then, the original creators now want millions or else they’ll seek to retain the rights. The Phillies contend that it’s because of their organization that the Phanatic has become a “Philadelphia sports and cultural icon” over the years. So by that logic, they’re the ones responsible for making the Phanatic so valuable and thus should keep the rights.
The case is still going on but the Phillies are hoping that a resolution can be met. Just in case the team is on the losing end, it’s probably smart to have a slightly alternative version of the Phanatic is debut, one that is just legally different than the original. Details are scarce but it shouldn’t be too drastic. MLB didn’t give It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia the rights to use the mascot in one of their episodes so they created the “Philly Phrenetic” that looks pretty similar, albeit a cheaper looking version of the real thing. So these alterations we see on Sunday may not be that noticeable.