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Fonzie of the Week #12: The Phillie Phanatic

November 5th, 2009 No comments
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The Phillie PhanaticI live in New York, but I’m originally from Philly and don’t you forget it. New York is a great town and all, but my heart will always be best served on an Amoroso roll with Cheez Whiz and fried onions. Yet despite my brotherly love for the city that invented the concept, you might be tempted to think that now is the wrong time to make the Phillie Phanatic Fonzie of the Week, given the Phillies’ recent World Series loss. But you’d be wrong. Why? Because there is no wrong time to make the Phillie Phanatic Fonzie of the Week. There’s no wrong time to give this big green galoot any sort of award. That’s how cool he is. Hell, let’s just settle this thing and make him Fonzie of the Millenium. Oh yeah. That just happened. Sound crazy? It is, but it’s still not one-tenth as crazy as anything the Phanatic does. He’s part athlete, part muppet, and he’s all awesome.

A little history: the Phanatic first appeared in 1978 as a replacement for the short-lived “Philadelphia Phil” and “Philadelphia Phyllis,” a couple of big-headed mascots in colonial garb. Phil and Phyllis never stood a chance against the raw charisma of the green guy, but in all fairness, at least they had some relation to the team and/or city. The Phanatic isn’t even from Philadelphia – according to his official MLB bio, he’s from the Galapagos Islands. But there are actors walking around Independence Hall to this very day who could be mistaken for Phil or Phyllis. Conversely, the Phanatic is most likely the product of somebody’s hilarious acid trip, dressed up in a Phillies jersey. Yet from those humble beginnings, the Phanatic has evolved into a Philadelphia institution and unquestionably the greatest mascot in professional sports history.

What I personally love most about the Phanatic is how he simultaneously manages to be 100% family-friendly and disturbingly inappropriate for kids. It’s a rare gift. Take for example his clear sex addiction. The guy kisses everybody – and by kiss I mean inhale through that ginormous snout of his. And the suggestive thrusting of his wonderously large belly is ready for Cinemax. But I dare you not to be charmed by this video of him seducing “Mrs. Phanatic”, despite the obscene grinding and potential sexual assault of the poor girl towards the end. And his song of choice? “Me and Mrs. Jones” by Philadelphia’s own Billy Paul. Smooth.

There’s also the matter of his sometimes violent behavior. Don’t be fooled by the cute exterior. The Phanatic can be a straight-up bully when he needs to. He’s notorious for taunting visiting teams, sometimes injecting himself into their warmups or teasing third-base coaches to the point of getting into physical altercations. He’ll make effigies of visiting players or coaches and run them over with his ATV. He famously did this with a stuffed Tommy Lasorda, eventually prompting Lasorda to chase him out onto the field and attempt to give the Phanatic a thrashing. Lasorda has blogged about it in a post titled “I Hate the Phillie Phanatic.” But like I said, none of this makes him bad for kids. Hell, my own nephew has danced on top of the Phillies dugout with this green hero. You gotta love him!

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that at the start of the 2009 World Series, certain New York rags took it upon themselves to slander the Phanatic’s good name in a misguided attempt to show Yankee pride. Shame on them. I don’t expect everybody to love the Phillies, and I’m okay with New York papers picking on the team or even its players. But the Phanatic? You only make yourself look ridiculous by bad-mouthing that Fonzie. His cool cannot be questioned. ‘Nuff said.

I’ll end this post by sharing a terrific video produced by Real American Stories all about the Phanatic, and by saying thanks to the Phanatic and the Phillies for another great season, championship or no championship. Rest up, boys. We’ll see you again in April.

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