Quirky, cutesy, fierce, or traditional—these are the traits of great sports mascots. They can whip a crowd into an excited frenzy. They make fans howl with laughter. The best mascots are honored in the Mascot Hall of Fame. Until now, it’s been an online-only award. This year, a hall of fame building will be built in Whiting, Indiana.
Many mascots go through intense training to learn to perform in costume, interact with fans, and deal with weather extremes—those fake fur costumes can feel like saunas! There are also mascot do’s and don’ts: Do be nice to children. Don’t talk while in uniform.
David Raymond is no stranger to mascot-ing. He’s the original Phillie Phanatic, a green two-footed creature with a telescoping tongue. (Think gigantic anteater.)
He’s also the hall’s founder. Raymond got the idea for the Mascot Hall of Fame after a 2003 incident of “mascot abuse.” Shocked sports fans saw a Pittsburgh first baseman hit one of the four Racing Sausages (yes, you read that right) with a bat during a between-innings show.
Raymond and his co-workers decided mascots weren’t “getting the respect they deserve.” They came up with a mascot bill of rights and started the online hall.
In 2005, the hall inducted its first class. It included Phillie Phanatic, the Famous Chicken (aka the San Diego Chicken), and the Phoenix Gorilla.
Not every mascot is eligible for the hall—just the fully costumed kind. Members are selected through voting by the public online, lifetime hall voting members, and a select committee.
To date, 10 pro and seven college mascots are honored in the hall. Pro honorees include New York’s Mr. Met and Rocky of the Denver Nuggets. College legends include Ohio State’s Brutus Buckeye and University of Tennessee’s Smokey.
This fall, the Mascot Hall of Fame announced its ballot for new inductees. Mascots making the cut were Benny the Bull (Chicago Bulls), Hairy Dawg (University of Georgia), Nittany Lion (Penn State University), Sluggerrr (Kansas City Royals), Stuff (Orlando Magic), and Tommy Hawk (Chicago Blackhawks).
Whiting, a small city along Lake Michigan, may be the perfect site for a brick-and-mortar Mascot Hall of Fame. It’s best known for its oil factory and its Pierogi Fest—an event that celebrates Polish dumplings.
“Their brand is the little wacky city that could, so they embrace the silliness of this project,” Raymond says.
Wacky and silly—two more good mascot traits.