The Tail of the Phillie Phanatic – The Hidden Underbelly of the New-Look Mascot

As reported by the Philadelphia Phillies, “[h]e has evolved, but clearly hasn’t matured.”

This week, the Phillies unveiled their new-look mascot… who received little more than a touch-up. As discovered at the Phillies’ spring training home opener, the infamous Phillie Phanatic arrived with new feathers, stars outlining the eyes, an enlarged backside, and a brand new powder-blue tail, among other minor detail changes.

Most casual fans will hardly notice a difference, and even die-hard Phillies fans are split; some prefer the traditional style, while others wrote off the changes as not that big of a deal. As noted by Tom Burgoyne, the man behind the mask, “he’s still the same old Phanatic, just with a little more sashay in him.”

What, then, was the point of this new glow-up?  As we have previously discussed in great detail, the Phillies are currently entrenched in a massive legal battle over keeping the rights to the beloved mascot. By way of brief background, Harrison/Erickson, Inc. (H/E) asserts that its primary members, Bonnie and Wayde Erickson, designed the iconic mascot back in 1978. 

This brings us back to this newest change; this makeover comes in advance of the June 15 expiration of the 35-year-old copyright agreement. By making these updates to the character as a whole, the Phillies will likely argue that, even if they were to lose on the merits that a renegotiation took place back in 1984, the character has now been substantially altered; as noted by Burgoyne, this litigation “kind of kick-started” the Phanatic’s transformation.

Ultimately, this likely results in additional posturing that the Phillies will hope assists them in eventual resolution with H/E. As June 15 continues to creep closer, keep your eyes peeled for a potential settlement, with the Phillies compensating H/E in connection with the Phanatic’s rise to glory over the past several decades.