From the time people realized the power of images to identify their brand with people, mascots have remained a fixture of historical importance and popular culture.
Who could forget Smokey the Bear telling you that “Only you can prevent forest fires”, or how Ronald McDonald would have you craving for a burger and fries during a commercial? And for those who love their competitive sports, few are as well associated with their institutions as Uga the Bulldog representing the University of Georgia Bulldogs team, or Go the Gorilla who does stunts and tricks on the court during the halftime break of Phoenix Suns games.
The simplicity of using a relatable, attractive character or image to associate with a particular corporation, team or endeavor has long brought supporters (and even critics) together to express their loyalties, making mascots a rallying point regardless of the side they’re on.
But as with any form of advertising, some mascots just don’t stick and are easily forgotten, while others rise to the level of stars of pop culture and fan lore that exceed even their creator’s dreams.
Here are six mascots that have become as iconic as those that they represent:
THE PHILLY PHANATIC (PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES – MLB)
One of the most unique and polarizing mascots in North American professional sports history made his debut when his team (the Philadelphia Phillies) took on the Chicago Cubs in a Major League Baseball game on April 25, 1978. Prior to this, the mascots were a pair of siblings dressed in 18th-century garb to invoke the city’s revolutionary spirit from 1776. So in an effort to bring in families to support their hometown, team management made an effort to get a more animated (and green-toned) mascot to represent the team.
Since his debut, the Philly Phanatic has become an essential component of the city’s major league baseball team by performing such actions as taunting the visiting team by mocking the actions of their players, and smashing or stomping on objects representing the team, doing “The Phanatic Dance” visiting the various broadcast booths and pranking the broadcasters. This has gained him a profile that outshines nearly of his peers and gained a phenomenal level of recognition for the team.
However, not everyone is a Phillies fan and the same can be said for some players on opposing teams, who’ve even attacked him on occasion after getting annoyed with his tactics meant to energize the fans. In addition to this, the Phanatic has also earned the dubious distinction of being the most sued athlete in sports. In 2010, a woman filed suit claiming that the Phanatic injured her knee at a minor league game after climbing through the stands and getting on top of her, aggravating her previously unknown arthritis.
MET (NEW YORK METS – MLB)
Before the Philly Phanatic roamed the streets of the City of Brotherly Love, another mascot was already making his presence felt in the stands of New York City’s Polo Grounds (and later, Shea Stadium and Citi Field). Sporting a gigantic baseball for a head on the body of a man in New York Mets uniform, the mascot was named Mr. Met and made his debut on April 11, 1962. As the face of a National League franchise that replaced the Brooklyn (now Los Angeles) Dodgers and New York (now San Francisco) Giants, he became the face of the new cross-town rivals to their more successful American League counterpart New York Yankees.
Despite his initial popularity and expanded family, which had him appearing at times with fellow mascot Mrs. Met and their three “children”, team management eventually phased him out just before the arrival of mascots such as the Philly Phanatic. It would take nearly 20 years before he would be brought back, but once it happened the fans warmly welcomed Mr. Met and he has remained a fixture of the team’s culture since.
Currently, Mr. Met can be seen at Citi Field during and after games. He is usually found near Mr. Met’s Kiddie Field where fans can meet and pose for pictures with him. He can be rented for special events and private parties. Mr. Met is also featured on Mets Money, which are $1, $5 and $10 denomination gift certificates accepted at concession stands and souvenir shops at Citi Field. And unlike his rival in Pennsylvania, he hasn’t had to worry about getting sued for the most part.
GO THE GORILLA (PHOENIX SUNS – NBA)
Considering that the NBA’s Phoenix Suns play their home games within the desert state of the American Southwest, it’s probably no surprise that their well-known mascot actually walked in quite by accident. A messenger for singing telegram service Eastern Onion, Henry Rojas, came to the arena during a home game dressed as a gorilla. Just before he left, Coliseum security suggested he do a few dances underneath the basket during a timeout, which soon caught on with the fans. The messenger kept coming to games until he was officially invited to be part of the team and the rest, as they say, is history.
While initially unnamed, the Suns faithful nicknamed him “Go” and he soon became a fixture of many a game with his antics and athleticism. These include raising the Phoenix Suns flag, performing slam dunk routines and firing up the crowd whenever he could. The Gorilla has also been known for slapstick humor during games, such as running the stadium stairs to the Rocky theme, and the dunks that are performed before each fourth quarter.
Despite having been donned by three different individuals during his run as the mascot of the Suns, Go’s popularity is such that he remains well-loved by hometown fans and an icon of the team among fans of the NBA. In addition to his exploits on the court, Go was inducted into the Mascot Hall of Fame in 2005 and still makes appearances with charities, schools, hospitals and local businesses.
BENNY THE BULL (CHICAGO BULLS – NBA)
Like his counterpart over at Citi Field, Benny the Bull has proudly represented the Chicago Bulls since the 1960s in its years at Chicago Stadium (and later at the United Center). As the team’s long-serving mascot, his recognition level among fans ranks up there with the team’s greatest players such as Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, and to a degree approaching that of the Phoenix Sun’s Go the Gorilla as well.
He earned his name from Ben Bentley, the Bull’s first public relations manager and stadium announcer. From there Benny has had an uninterrupted tenure as a face of one of the most recognized and successful teams in NBA history. During that time, he started out as a burly steer that moved amazingly quickly, morphing into a leaner bovine that could take to the air with the greatest of ease.
He has left his mark in franchise history with performing various stunts and fan interactions during Chicago Bulls games, which includes his signature acrobatic moves and dunks, dancing, backward half-court shots, driving his bike down stairs, throwing cakes, shooting T-shirts out of his “Bullzooka”, and more. But most notably, he has shown a heart of gold regularly appearing at schools to promote literacy and the importance of a good education as part of the Bulls’ All-Star Reading Team.
CAPTAIN SPINS (CAPTAIN SPINS ONLINE CASINO)
Like the superhero out of your favorite comic book, Captain Spins is charismatic, good-looking, suave and dressed in black – he’s one of the most well-loved casino mascots around. His presence is more than enough to turn the odds in your favor, as his power to boost your balance in all manner of shapes and sizes are guaranteed to keep you on the winning side of things.
And like the Avengers or the Justice League of America, Captain Spins enjoys a collaborative effort in getting things done and results on the table. New team members are treated to a welcome bonus, which opens the doors to even more amazing bonuses and free spins that can be used on a plethora of slot and table games to keep you in the game.
Aside from accepting traditional payment methods such as banking by wire and major credit cards, you also have the option to use various e-wallets and yes, even virtual currency such as Bitcoin is now supported!
GREEN (MR. GREEN ONLINE CASINO)
Green is a color that has been embraced by many of the world’s greatest heroes. There’s the Green Lantern Corps, the Green Arrow and even the Green Hornet, all of whom rely on their unique mix of powers and skill to get things done where needed. But the elusive and mysterious Mr. Green takes this to a new level with his solidly green attire and eye-catching green car.
Since launching in Sweden in 2008, Mr. Green has shown his class as a true gentleman, winning multiple awards, including IGA Operator of the Year for three years in a row 2013, 2014, 2015 and Mobile Operator of the Year 2016. And while being an elder statesman of sorts in the online industry, his continued presence and high-quality lineup of games have kept members happy and satisfied.
In keeping with his stellar reputation, Mr. Green provides comprehensive security online and is licensed with both the United Kingdom and Malta gambling authorities. Customer support is available for participants who have any game and transaction-related concerns, while offering a tiered rewards program called the Green Elevator and even a VIP program known as Club Royale to ensure that the most dedicated members enjoy their online experience even more.