It’s almost summer, which means sunshine, relaxation and perhaps a job.
But mostly it means fun.
In the spirit of the approaching summer, I feel it’s time to address an equally-enjoyable topic—my top 10 best sports mascots.
They entertain, cheer on their teams, heckle the opponents and also represent things greater than themselves.
I’m not sure how that last one has come to be, but why fight something positive? Mascots attract kids to sporting events and humor the adults who would really rather watch the game.
10. The Stanford Tree: Truly, this mascot drops jaws. It’s not pretty and not impressive, but I suppose Stanford did as well as it could for having a color as its nickname. The Tree made the list because it takes guts to have a costume this awful represent your school. Stanford has backed up their pinewood pal, though, with successful seasons on the volleyball court and football field.
9. Rocky the Mountain Lion: This Denver Nuggets representative is full of energy and style. He wears a Nuggets jump suit that looks like it was sewn in the 1990s, but he’s a great dancer. He even has a music video with background dancers and cheerleaders. He’s also an impressive acrobat—check out the video of him front-flipping over six fans. Rocky’s got a lot of moxy, and I dig it.
8. Boomer: Ever since color commentator Bobby “Slick” Leonard started saying “Boom Baby!” for Pacers’ 3-pointers, the phrase has become synonymous with the team, making the mascot appropriately named. He does back flips, dunks off trampolines with his “Power Pack” crew and he bangs an obnoxiously loud cowbell when opponents shoot free throws. Taunting definitely gets you on this list; it’s what mascots are partially about.
7. Go the Gorilla: What does a gorilla have to do with the Phoenix Suns or the game of basketball? Absolutely nothing, but who says a team’s mascot has to make sense? That seems to be a theme of this list. But this gorilla occasionally jumps off a trampoline and through a ring of fire to dunk the ball, which is awesome. Plus, having a goofy gorilla in the building is just plain cool.
6. The Rally Monkey: Speaking of primates, the Anaheim Angels’ live capuchin takes the cake when it comes to sporty tree-climbers. This monkey gained fame during the Angels’ run to the 2002 title, during which they had some come-from-behind series wins, including a 4-3 win against the San Francisco Giants in the World Series. Ever since, rally monkeys have symbolized success for other sports teams.
5. The Rainbow Warrior: This Maori tribesman performs the intimidating Haka chant to inspire fear in the University of Hawaii’s opponents. It does not always affect the outcome of sporting events, but it sure is fun to watch. This guy is the real deal, and if there was an NCAA sumo wrestling championship, he would make a run at the title every year.
4. The San Diego Chicken: Yes, the San Diego Padres use a chicken and not a military chaplin, but he is considered the first professional mascot and the first to taunt opposing teams and fans. His trend-setting vaulted him up this list, and being a good dancer does not hurt either.
3. The Racing Sausages: There’s hardly anything like the Milwaukee Brewers’ Racing Sausages. They may be the only racing barbeque food in professional sports, and they entertain one and all. Plus, they wear the masks of former U.S. presidents around the time of President’s Day and during Fourth of July weekend. That makes them patriotic, and I salute them.
2. Blue II: Some might argue that our lovable live mascot should be No. 1, but keep reading to see why he is my runner-up. Blue II is easily the cutest mascot in all of sports, and he represents Butler’s sports teams well. He is tough, has endurance and enjoys a good nap—just like most college students do.
1. The Phillie Phanatic: There’s no other mascot that comes close to this green monster. But unlike monsters of literature, the Phillie Phanatic is a friendly green giant. He has a belly that he shakes, giant clown-sized shoes and a face that all love, whether they’re 8 or 80 years old. The Phanatic is baseball, and in my mind, he’s also sports. If I’m lucky, being the Phanatic will be my future career.