Mascots have been around since 1880, starting in France when the French word “mascotte” was used to mean talisman or good luck charm. In the good ol’ U.S.A., we shortened it to “mascot.” Although, a more accurate word would be whatever word has the definition of; big furry things that are distracting and are best when they leave you alone. Sadly, no such word exists but maybe the rap community will, one day, come up with one.
When coming up with this list, each entrant had to satisfy certain criteria. They had to be grotesque and make as little sense as possible in terms of the team or event they are affiliated with. That’s why there’s no “Otto, the Orange” for Syracuse University. Yeah, he’s weird but he’s not ugly and he is an orange which makes sense when your team is “The Orange.” Ditto for the Phillie Phantic because I’m a big Phillies fan and an even bigger fan of alliteration. Now, with that out of the way, please enjoy the top ten worst mascots of all time.
10. Mr. Met (New York Mets)
This looks more like someone suffering from encephalitis then someone who makes you want to cheer. Mr. Met came about in 1963 and is believed to be the first Major League mascot to exist in humanoid form. Plus, he was the first Mets bobblehead doll. He even got a live girlfriend, Mrs. Met, in 1975. Then nature took its course and they were blessed with three little baseballs or children.
In 1976, the Metropolitans finally did the right thing and got rid of giant baseball head, but he came back in 1994 for no good reason. Maybe he had incriminating photos of manager Dallas Green. Sadly, Mr. Met is thriving. In 2007, he was even elected into the Mascot Hall of Fame even though Kiss still hasn’t been inducted.
Currently, Mr. Met can be rented out for special events like hiding in your kid’s closet, jumping out and scaring the bejesus out of him or corporate outings. He is featured on the “Mets Money” gift certificate but still looks like he should star in a slasher film.
9. Dodger Big Headed Thing (Los Angeles Dodgers)
No, I’m not too lazy to look up his name, this thing doesn’t have one yet. Also, the Dodgers insists that Bob’s Big Boy’s son isn’t really a mascot. He’s a “unique performance character” according to Dodgers executive vice president of marketing, Lon Rosen. See, he isn’t a mascot because what he does is walk around the concourse, wave and take photos with fans. All things a mascot would never do. I have no idea why the Dodgers are making this distinction, but this is the same organization that gave Zack Greinke $147 million for six years. Maybe in year five they’ll insist he really isn’t a pitcher.
8. Izzy (1996 Atlanta Olympics)
The Olympics seem to have the market cornered on bizarre mascots. This was originally called Whatizit or what is it? Good question. A giant blue turd? A radioactive grape? He was, however, the first Olympic mascot to have his own video game. What, you never played “Izzy’s Quest For Olympic Rings?” What kind of an American are you? The saddest part is that Izzy was chosen in a contest. Over twenty design firms competed. If Izzy was the winner, we’d love to see the losers.
7. Chief Noc-A-Homa / Chief Wahoo (Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Indians)
Ah, the blatantly racist mascots. What better way to recognize the race you pretend to admire then by having them being a gross caricature? Shockingly, the Washington Redskins don’t have an official mascot. In light of the racial insensitivity of their current administration, it’s hard to believe that they would throw away such a great opportunity to offend.
Chief Noc-A-Homa lasted until 1986 and while Chief Wahoo hasn’t been officially retired, his presence is now secondary. To anyone who thinks that Native Americans are making too big a deal out of this, I’m sure other groups wouldn’t be outraged at all if teams decided to call themselves the Brooklyn Wops or the Los Angeles Beaners. Although the New Jersey Jews does have a ring to it. Remember, I’m a fan of alliteration.
6. Crazy Crab (San Francisco Giants, 1984)
San Francisco was the host for the acid generation in the late ’60’s and who’s to say that a future San Francisco Giants promotions executive wasn’t one of the flower children imbibing the brown acid? It would certainly explain how anyone would think this thing would be a proper representation for your team. It’s a crab! Who doesn’t love crabs? Just like the things you try not to step on when you’re at the beach.
The crab was introduced in 1984. A year, in which, the Giants managed to lose 96 games. On the last day of the season, Wayne Doba, the man in the mollusk suit, looked up and said “I hope there’s nobody up there with a gun.” Where’s a mercy killer when you really need one?
5. Dandy (New York Yankees, 1979-1981)
The New York Yankees are all about tradition. Every year is some kind of an anniversary. There’s 27 world championships, 40 pennants, 44 players in the Hall of Fame and one mascot: Dandy.
Dandy was created after the Yankees heard that the Phillie Phanatic grossed over two million in revenue annually. Sure, two million doesn’t even get you a crappy middle reliever these days, but back in ’79 it was real money. Dandy was created by Wayde Harrison and his wife, Bonnie Erickson, both experienced puppeteers who worked with The Muppets. They came up with the basic design and had it approved by Yankee owner, George Steinbrenner.
All systems seemed go until July 10th, 1979 when the San Diego Chicken put a hex on Yankee pitcher, Ron Guidry at the Kingdome in Seattle. For some reason this really offended Lou Pinella, who started screaming at the chicken and threw his glove at it. After the game, Pinella told the media that mascots have no place in baseball, a sentiment supported by Steinbrenner. Still, a contract was already signed so the Yankees were obligated to use Dandy, but they did no promotion for him and he died a slow death until 1981 when he finally flatlined.
4. Mad Ant (Fort Wayne Mad Ants – NBDL)
Well he is from the sport that gave us Pierre the Pelican, who’s coming soon, but this thing is downright creepy. He’s a cross between the Green Goblin and Satan. Why would you name your franchise after something no one wants in their home? Was Raid a sponsor because that would make sense. During halftime, a lucky fan, could man a giant can of bug spray and kill this freakin’ thing.
3. Steely McBeam (Pittsburgh Steelers, 2007)
Nope, Steely isn’t a member of the Village People. He’s the mascot for your Pittsburgh Steelers! He’s supposed to represent Pittsburgh’s blue collar roots which explains the plaid shirt. He was named by contest winner, Diane Roles who said “Steely” was for the team’s name. “Mc” was for the Rooney family (the owners)’s Irish roots and “Beam” for the steel beams produced in the foundries. Yes, sometimes you can over think things.
2. Pierre the Pelican (New Orleans Pelicans)
What do you want a mascot to do? Probably not terrify young children. After this happened one too many times, it was decided that Pierre would undergo major facial plastic surgery. His recovery time was short and before you knew it, he was back at the Smoothie King Center, annoying the fans who actually wanted to watch the games.
1. Youppi! (Montreal Canadiens)
From the same people who designed Dandy, Youppi! was all about fun. The exclamation point after his name shows you that. He tops this list because Youppi! was the first mascot to switch sports. He was originally the mascot for baseball’s Montreal Expos and when they fled town, he became the mascot for the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens leading fans from two different sports to ask the question, what the hell is that?
He was also the first mascot to be thrown out of a Major League baseball game on August 23rd, 1989, because Dodger manager, Tommy Lasorda, complained that Youppi! was making too much noise. When beloved former Montreal catcher, Gary Carter, passed away in 2012, Youppi! once again donned an Expos jersey. There could be no higher tribute, although it would’ve been nice on that day of mourning if Youppi! exchanged his “!” for a more respectful “.” or “:” but that’s all hindsight.
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