- David Schoenfield, SweetSpot blogger
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OK, enough discussion about a washed-up, past-his-prime ballplayer. Let's talk about the important news that hit baseball this week: The Chicago Cubs unveiled their first official mascot in franchise history -- Clark, a young bear cub who wears his hat backward (Tinker, Evers and Chance just rolled over in their graves).
Hey, you can't blame Theo Epstein for trying. Where were the Red Sox before Wally the Green Monster made his debut in April 1997? Exactly. With Wally around, the Red Sox ended the curse and have won three World Series titles. Don't say Theo doesn't pay attention to history.
Clark was met with a lot of initial anger from Cubs fans; but so did Wally. So give it time, Cubs fans. You'll learn to love Clark (well, assuming you win three World Series titles in the next 16 years). Plus, Clark is hardly one of the worst 10 mascots of all time:
1. Crazy Crab (Giants)
First, the crab looked as though it was crying, maybe apropos since it was unveiled in 1984, a year the Giants lost 96 games. Players and fans hated it with equal pleasure. On the final day of the season, according to the Giants' web site, Wayne Doba, who wore the crab outfit, reportedly looked up into the stands and said, "I hope there's nobody up there with a gun."
2. Chief Noc-a-Homa (Braves)
Amazingly, the Chief lasted until 1986 when the Braves finally removed his teepee from the section of the outfield bleachers. The Chief would exit his teepee and perform a dance whenever the Braves hit a home run. No, seriously.
3. The original Pirate Parrot (Pirates)
The Parrot came into existence in 1979, during the heyday of the San Diego Chicken, and the Pirates immediately won the World Series! Good move, right? Well, it turned out that Kevin Koch, the man under the costume, was dealing cocaine to players from Three Rivers Stadium. How has this not been made into a movie? After the Pittsburgh drug trials, the Parrot was redesigned to look fatter and less mean.
4. Twinkie the Loon (Twins)
Hard to believe he lasted just two years. Twins fans despised Twinkie. A fan named Al Casavva wrote in to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, mocking the mascot and club: "I've heard rumors there are actually two Loons -- one right-handed and one left-handed. Gene Mauch has said in the long run his two-Loon platoon system will be better for the ball club."
5. Charlie-O (Athletics)
Owner Charlie Finley used Charlie-O as the teams' mascot in both Kansas City and Oakland from 1963 to 1976. Charlie-O was a mule. In 1965, relievers briefly rode in on Charlie-O from the bullpen when entering a game. Ahh, more innocent times. Of course, Finley also wanted to use orange baseballs -- an idea that once landed him on the cover of Time magazine.
6. Ribbie and Roobarb (White Sox)
Bruce Bursma of the Chicago Tribune once described this much-despised '80s pair like this: "One looked like the dim-witted son of Oscar the Grouch, the other like a chartreuse anteater with a genetic flaw."
7. Bernie Brewer (Brewers)
Sorry, never got the whole slide thing. But, hey, anything to promote drinking to excess!
8. Dandy (Yankees)
Here's a Wall Street Journal article on Dandy, who somehow survived from 1979 to 1981.
9. Junction Jack (Astros)
A rabbit dressed as a railroad engineer. No wonder the Astros went downhill.
10. Rootin' Tootin' Ranger (Rangers)
Imagine the poor sap who had to wear that costume during a day game in July. (By the way, if you want to know what's it like to be a major league mascot, order our ESPN colleague AJ Mass' new book, "Yes, It's Hot in Here: Adventures in the Weird, Woolly World of Sports Mascots.)
Anyway, I think this is good news for the Cubs. The kids can go take a picture with Clark during the game instead of watching Starlin Castro swing at another 2-2 slider 12 inches off the plate. This leaves the Yankees, Dodgers and Angels as the only three teams without a mascot. But the Angels have an unofficial mascot in the Rally Monkey and the Dodgers have the dude in the bear costume. OK, he got the boot from security, but maybe he can turn the dancing gig into a full-time mascot deal.
So, the Yankees. They could go back to using a monopoly-type guy as their mascot. Or maybe a big gummy bear.
What, too soon?