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The Phillie Phanatic may be a free agent in 2020!

August 06, 2019 - 2:22 pm

By Charlie O

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The Phillie Phanatic may be the best-known mascot in all of sports. The 6-foot-6 mass of green fur that has a 90-inch waistline and loves to ride its ATV has been the Philadelphia Phillies mascot for the last 41 years. Now, the mascot’s creators want to make the Phanatic a free agent.

How the Phanatic was “born”

The team turned to the creative staff at Harrison/Erickson Incorporated to design their new mascot in 1978. Bonnie Erickson was well known for her designs of some of the Muppets including Miss Piggy. The Phillie Phanatic was an instant hit with the fans.

The Phillies claim that in 1984 they terminated the original rights deal with Harrison/Erickson and paid $215,000 for what they claim was a “forever rights” deal. The team has filed for an injunction against the creative firm who they claim want to make the Phanatic a free agent.

Why is this happening – follow the money!

Harrison/Erickson is asserting a copyright claim based on the Phanatic is “an artistic sculpture”. The Phillies counter they created the green color, large waistline and big nose (you cannot make this stuff up).

The New York Daily News pointed out that the team is not disputing that H/E Creative came up with the googly eyes, long tongue, and huge butt. When you think of the Phanatic in those terms, it does not sound so artistic.

The Phillies also point out that they have invested millions in developing and promoting the Phanatic and its image. The basic point is “the Phanatic is the Phillies and the Phillies are the Phanatic.”

This is a flashback to the San Diego Chicken

The famous San Diego Chicken was originally a creation of radio station KGB. It was used as a prop in promotional events. A college student – Ted Giannoulas – donned the suit and became a local star.

Giannoulas thought acting as the chicken would be a great way to get into Padres games for free. He was right. He worked more than 520 baseball games and became a national star in the process for his antics with the players and umpires.

In 1979, a conflict began between KGB and Giannoulas. The radio station fired him and put another person in the suit. Fans were not happy and Giannoulas sued the station. The court found that Giannoulas was the Chicken, and the “Famous Chicken” was hatched.

The Famous Chicken has performed on television and before thousands of fans at different sporting around the United States.

There is no doubt that the Famous Chicken led the way for mascots like Philly Phanatic to become popular in professional sports.

San DIego Chicken

What will happen in the Phanatic case?

This case will probably wind up in arbitration, and Harrison/Erickson will receive some ridiculous sum of money while the Phillies will retain the rights to the Phanatic. That will be fine unless the Phanatic goes rogue and gets its own agent.

Unconfirmed reports

We have not been able to confirm rumors that Jay Z’s Roc Nation Sports is trying to sign the Philly Phanatic in order to manage its free agent bid.

Stay tuned.


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