We all love The List. Nick Pollack does a great job sorting through the top 100 pitchers in baseball, and I figured it was time for mascots to get their day in the sun at PL. These are my personal rankings, but I used previous surveys of the PitcherList community and PitcherList staff to get an idea of what people look for in their mascots. The most common characteristics mentioned in these surveys, as well as previous mascot ranking articles, are listed below (not in order of importance):
- Interesting backstory or origin story
- Fun for kids
- Bring a lot of energy
- Goofy and silly
In an effort to assess each mascot holistically, I also paid attention to a variety of other factors, including outside accolades like fan votes, inductions into the Mascot Hall of Fame and other prestigious institutions, and appearances in the media. I also considered the mascots’ longevity (how long they have existed), their connection to the team’s logo and history, and their physical looks. Mascots that had a unique trait or antic were given a significant boost.
The Phillie Phanatic: The competition for the top spot is not even close. The Phanatic is the most well-known mascot in baseball and one of the most well-known across North American professional sports. It is one of the most entertaining mascots day in and day out. It is fun for kids, teenagers, young adults, and even older baseball fans. The Phanatic’s antagonization of opposing players and coaches is hilarious to watch. Additionally, the Phanatic is great with young children, from countless appearances at local elementary schools and community events to hot dog tosses and t-shirt shots. It rightly has more accolades than any other mascot in baseball and rightly deserves the top tier on this list.
Accolades: Credited appearances in Always Sunny, Rocky Balboa, The Simpsons, SportsCenter, and 30 Rock. It is also one of three mascots on display at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown; it is the only active mascot on display at the NBHOFM. Voted “best mascot ever” by Sports Illustrated Kids, “best mascot in sports” by Forbes, and “best mascot in baseball” by Good Morning America. Also, part of the inaugural class of the Mascot Hall of Fame. The Phanatic was crowned “the most sued mascot in the majors” by the Cardozo Law Review in a 2002 study.
Tier 2: Mr. and Mrs. Met, Orbit, Oriole Bird, the Swinging Friar
These are all elite mascots. They all have an elite characteristic (or even two!) and all have existed for long enough that their presence in this tier is more than a flash in the pan. They are all beloved by their respective fanbases and continue to entertain generations of baseball fans, even beyond their own team. They are prominently featured by their respective teams, from Kids Club materials to gameday appearances; these mascots do not share the spotlight with other minor mascots for very long, as some of the other lower-ranked mascots do. These mascots are all fantastic, but they do not rank in the same tier as the Phillie Phanatic.
- Mr. Met lands a sick burn against one of his own players.
- The Swinging Friar has a beer named after him?
- Apparently, Orbit is the President of #AstrosTwitter.
— Houston Astros Orbit (@OrbitAstros) July 2, 2020
Tier 3: Sluggerrr, Lou-Seal, Bernie Brewer, Wally the Green Monster, Dinger, Mr. Redlegs
- These are all above-average mascots, but they were all missing a little something that would have pushed them up into the elite echelon. It broke my heart to slot Bernie Brewer so low, but he shares the spotlight with several other mascots (Barrelman, the sausages) and spends a lot of time up in his chalet, which limits his in-game antics and silliness. Mr. Redlegs is part of an entire crew of Reds mascots (like Bernie), which forced me to move him down past the mascots who are more prominently featured during games. Sluggerrr is a fun-looking mascot and is the only one in this tier to have been inducted into the Mascot Hall of Fame, but it is missing an exciting distinguishing characteristic and needs more “punch.” Lou and Wally are all fun mascots but do not have that one characteristic that makes them especially memorable. Dinger surged up my rankings because of its connection to the history of the Rockies (and it hatched out of a giant dinosaur egg?) and enjoyable antics. It needs more time in this tier before it rises any higher.
Tier 4: Pirate Parrot, Mariner Moose, Stomper
- These mascots are all solid or above average, but again are missing something that would make them more exciting and distinguishable; unless you are a fan of these teams, you probably have a harder time recalling these mascots and their appearances. They are all fun to watch and have good connections to their team names and logos and I hate to “disrespect them,” but these mascots are missing the punch that higher-ranked mascots have.
Tier 5: “Meh”: Billy the Marlin, Screech, Raymond, Fredbird
- The first three in this tier – if given more time or add more to their repertoire – could ascend to a higher tier. Billy the Marlin and Raymond both win a ton of points for their goofy looks. I’m still not sure what Raymond really is, either. It is described as a “seadog,” but I just do not see that for Raymond at all. Screech is very new for a mascot, having hatched in 2005. It has already racked up quite a few interesting antics and funny moments (the jousting with the Oriole Bird was a lot of fun). Fredbird is just… eh. It does not really inspire me at all and his antics are about the same as every other generic mascot across professional sports.
Tier 6: Slider, Rangers Captain, D. Baxter the Bobcat, Ace, Southpaw, Paws, TC Bear
- The largest tier of the bunch, these mascots need some fixing in one area or another. Ace is too gray to be a mascot for a team named the Blue Jays and is fairly young for a mascot. I understand that D. Baxter is a play on the team’s name and the BOBcat is in honor of the original ballpark’s name, but it does not sit right with me. The field is no longer called the BOB or Bank One Ballpark and the “D. Baxter” to match the team name is a little bit of a stretch. Slider and Southpaw look like the younger cousin of the Phanatic. They look like fun mascots, but the connections to the Phanatic are undeniable, and I was forced to dock both of them points for a lack of originality. Slider’s famous mascot moment was not for fun reasons, but because it tore its ACL trying to jump off of a wall to hype fans up. Quintessentially Cleveland, I guess. Rangers Captain is fine until you realize that it is half-human, half-horse, which is very unsettling to think about. Paws and T.C. Bear are very bland mascots with very little excitement about them. T.C. Bear could be a dictionary definition of a “corporate mascot,” as it is modeled after Hamm’s Brewery advertisements. Hamm’s was an early sponsor of the Twins.
Tier 7: Blooper and Clark the Cub
- This is where PL Staff, the PL Community, and I all agree. Clark is so new (2014) that it is hard to say whether it is any good as a mascot. The early returns from Cubs fans are not promising for Clark’s appeal. Atlanta rightfully tried to avoid a mascot with any connection to their name and ended up with whatever Blooper is. Blooper is so bland and out of place as a mascot that Atlanta could get rid of him completely and still provide the same level of excitement for younger fans. If Atlanta really wanted to pick a fun mascot, they might be better off looking into developing the Freeze and adding more gameday activities to the Freeze’s plate.
The Complete List:
- The Phanatic
- Mr. Met
- Oriole Bird
- Swinging Friar
- Bernie Brewer
- Wally the Green Monster
- Mr. Redlegs
- Pirate Parrot
- Mariner Moose
- Billy the Marlin
- Rangers Captain
- Baxter the Bobcat
- Ace (Toronto)
- TC Bear