Good Luck, Gritty: 8 Sports Mascots that Struck Out

Bruce Bennett, Getty Images
Bruce Bennett, Getty Images

This September, Philadelphia introduced us to Gritty, the new mascot of their hockey team, the Flyers. A spiritual cousin to the town's other brightly colored eccentric, the Phillie Phanatic, Gritty is already beloved by his city and the internet alike for his outrageous (though sometimes frightening) appearance and antics. But not all mascots make their way into the hearts of the masses the way Gritty has—and not all of them should. Here are eight mascots who struck out from across pro sports.

1. DANDY // NEW YORK YANKEES

A game at Yankee Stadium is usually more about the business of baseball than a fun day for the family—but starting in 1979, a pinstriped, mustachioed, Phanatic-like creature named Dandy could be found roaming through the stands at Yankee Stadium, in an attempt to delight children in the crowd. His weird Big Bird body was made entirely out of a furry, classic Yankees uniform and was accented with a bright orange handlebar moustache and orange hair sticking out from under his sideways ballcap. Needless to say, Dandy disappeared into obscurity quickly; by 1981, he was toast. In fact, in 1998, longtime Yankees owner George Steinbrenner claimed he had "no recollection" of Dandy's existence.

2. BOOMER // COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS

In 2010, the Columbus NHL franchise introduced Boomer the Cannon, another mustachioed mascot, along with their then-new alternate uniforms. Though Boomer was made in the image of the goal cannon in the Blue Jackets arena, his drab color scheme and generally phallic appearance were off-putting to fans. After his less than stellar reception, Boomer was "unceremoniously resigned mid-season," according to Columbus Alive, the city's entertainment magazine.

3. CHIEF NOC-A-HOMA // ATLANTA BRAVES

One of the longer lasting mascots on our list, and certainly the most offensive, Chief Noc-A-Homa represented the Atlanta Braves for 20 years (though he was first introduced in 1953, when the team was in Milwaukee). One of the many examples of objectionable depictions of Native Americans in professional sports, Chief was given a teepee in the stadium that he was meant to emerge from to perform a ceremonial dance when the Braves would, uh, knock a homer. After disputes over payment, the third Chief Noc-A-Homa was retired in 1986 and hasn't been seen since.

4. BONNIE BREWER // MILWAUKEE BREWERS

The Milwaukee Brewers have one of the most vibrant and recognizable mascot cultures in pro sports with their popular sausage race during the sixth inning. However, long before the sprinting meat, there was Bonnie Brewer. Bonnie, clad in lederhosen and a Brewers hat, would emerge in the middle of the fifth inning to help the grounds crew clean up the infield, sweeping each base clean. She would also give the opposing team's third base coach a kiss on the cheek when passing. As antiquated as the role sounds now, the women who played Bonnie fondly remember their experience. "For Pete's sake," Anne Haines, the final woman to play Bonnie, quipped this year, "it got a woman on the field!"

5. PIERRE THE PELICAN // NEW ORLEANS PELICANS

True, Pierre still roams the stands of the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, but not in his original form. When Pierre was first introduced in October 2013 as the new mascot of the Pelicans basketball team, he had deep, dark pupils and a red beak, presumably colored with the blood of his enemies and prey. Kids and adults alike were rightfully put off by Pierre's appearance, and almost immediately the team announced that he needed "plastic surgery" to fix a "broken beak." Looks like he got an eye lift and hair cut while he was at it, too.

6. CRAZY CRAB // SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

All of these mascots were retired, at least in part, due to their lack of popularity, but none has been as downright hated and abused as the Giants' Crazy Crab, who only served one season in 1984. The hate was by design, oddly enough—fans were encouraged to boo and throw objects at the Crab, and players would push him around, too. Crazy Crab's suit had to be lined with a fiberglass shell to protect from actor Wayne Doba from the various bottles, batteries, and urine-filled balloons thrown at him. The legend Crazy Crab left is one well-known. ESPN produced a 30 for 30 short on his tenure as an "anti-mascot," and when he made a quick return in 2008, he was greeted with sneers, jeers, and beers to the face.

7. THUNDER // GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS

What did Thunder ever have to do with the Warriors? Good question! No one really knows!

Thunder's blue physique and lightning-bolted head stood out as the proud logo and mascot for the Warriors in the '00s before their elegant redesign and rise to prominence. A sort of statuesque, superhero Adonis, Thunder was known for his high-flying stunt baskets and halftime shows in Oracle Arena. Unfortunately, he had to be let go in 2008 when the Seattle Supersonics moved to Oklahoma City and renamed their team the Thunder. The Warriors haven't had a mascot since.

8. METTLE THE MULE // NEW YORK METS

The anthropomorphic baseballs that are Mr. and Mrs. Met are quite possibly the loveliest couple in the MLB. But once upon a time before the team moved to their current Citi Field location, Mettle the Mule walked the foul line at Shea Stadium in 1979. Given his name by a fan, Mettle was meant to embody the "spirit, ardor, stamina, and courage" of the New York Mets. Mettle has been forgotten in large part because he was a real mule, not a goofy mascot, and also, almost no one went to Mets games during the 1979 season.

BONUS: KING CAKE BABY // NEW ORLEANS PELICANS

Apparently New Orleans is gunning to be the horror capital of the mascot world. Not to be outdone by Pierre the Pelican's original, frightening appearance, the team also introduced the King Cake Baby, a cartoonish, nightmare-inducing giant newborn meant to emulate the good luck charm found in the traditional Mardi Gras pastry. Each year, King Cake Baby terrorizes NOLA during Mardi Gras (even if he often comes bearing colorful king cake). Good luck sleeping, New Orleans!

6 Things You Should Know About Boxing Day

Matt Cardy/Getty Images
Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Relax, Hallmark conspiracy theorists: Boxing Day isn’t some prank to confuse America. It’s a real holiday in the United Kingdom and other European countries that dates back to the days of Queen Victoria. Here are some facts to get you up to speed.

1. It occurs on December 26th.

Boxing Day is observed annually on December 26. If it falls on a weekend, the public holiday itself will be celebrated on Monday. It became an official holiday during the reign of Queen Victoria, though some historians trace its origins back much further—to medieval times. Today, it's largely an extension of the Christmas holiday and a big day for sporting events and shopping.

2. No one really knows where the name originated.

Many historians think the holiday’s name is derived from the church practice of opening alms boxes the day after Christmas and distributing money to the poor. Historically, British employers followed the church’s lead by sliding workers and servants gifts or cash on December 26.

Others believe the "box" refers to the boxes of gifts employers gave to their servants on the day after Christmas. (In wealthy households, servants were often required to work on Christmas Day but given December 26th off in order to celebrate the holiday on their own.)

3. It's a big day for shopping.

Historically, Boxing Day's post-Christmas sales have long made it one of the U.K.'s busiest shopping days of the year. And while it still falls within the top five biggest shopping days of the year, the popularity of online shopping has reduced the overall spending people do on December 26.

“Fifteen years ago it was pretty much guaranteed that you would only get big sales a few times a year—Boxing Day and the big summer clearance," Bryan Roberts, an analyst at Kantar Retail, told The Telegraph in 2015. That is no longer the case.” 

“The Boxing Day sales are pretty much dead,” Roberts added. “Black Friday and Cyber Monday illustrate Christmas sales are starting earlier and earlier. There is a possibility prices will just keep on dropping in the run-up to Christmas. This makes the Boxing Day sales incredibly diluted."

4. There is no boxing involved.

Despite the name, British observances of Boxing Day involve no fisticuffs. For patricians, however, another sport rules the day: fox hunting. Though it's a long-held tradition, many animal rights activists and groups would like to see the practice done away with altogether. Especially since, technically, it's illegal. In the days leading up to Boxing Day, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) is often very vocal in reminding citizens that "The chasing or killing of foxes and other British mammals with a pack of dogs was banned because the overwhelming majority of the UK public rejected this so-called 'sport' as cruel and abhorrent."

5. Some other countries do take the name more literally.

In other countries, Boxing Day celebrations are more literal. Some former British colonies in Africa and the Caribbean celebrate the holiday with prizefighting events.

6. In Ireland, December 26th is sometimes known as Wren Day.

Ireland sometimes refers to December 26 as Wren Day, a nod to an old tradition in which poor children would kill a wren, then sell the feathers to neighbors for good luck. In today’s celebrations, the wren is fake.

11 Brilliant Gifts for Outdoorsy People

iStock
iStock

Research suggests that exposure to nature has a number of health benefits—and at this time of year, your friends and family could probably use all they can get. Make their journey into the great outdoors fun and fuss-free with these gear picks, suitable for a variety of skill levels—from urban glamper to backcountry expert.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

1. FJÄLLRÄVEN Keb Touring Down Jacket

These lightweight, intensely squishable down jackets for men and women will keep your camping buddies extra-warm. The outer layer of recycled polyamide features reinforced panels on the shoulders, lower sleeves, and back, while the insulation of 95 percent ethically produced goose down and 5 percent feathers has a toasty 800 fill power. The whole jacket weighs only 150 grams (5.3 ounces)—perfect for ultralight backpacking as well as roasting marshmallows around the campfire.

Find It at Amazon for $450 and also at these other retailers:

2. Goal Zero Lighthouse 400 Lantern And USB Power Hub

This compact lantern emits 400 lumens of LED light for spotlight-level brightness, while the dimmable directional lighting feature saves power for extended use. It also recharges fast using USB, solar, or hand-cranked energy. The built-in USB port can juice up phones and other small devices so your pals never miss an Instagram post.

Find It at Amazon for $70 and also these other retailers:

3. Bike-mounted Bottle Carrier

Handmade in Boulder, Colorado from upcycled bike inner tubes and tent fabric, this convenient six-bottle carrier mounts over a bike frame and safely transports craft brews from fridge to frontier. The insulated sleeves cushion each bottle separately and the carrier includes a handle for toting on foot. Creator Davidson Lewis makes each carrier by hand, so colors and patterns vary.

Find It at Uncommon Goods for $40.

4. REI CO-OP FLASH 22 DAY PACK

Ideal for camping or commuting, this 22-liter lightweight pack features a roomy top-loading main compartment with an inner sleeve for hydration reservoir (or laptop or folders), zippered exterior pockets for small items, and two deep side pockets for bottles. The padded mesh back panel, detachable waist and sternum straps, and stretch-mesh shoulder straps offer breathable comfort even when the pack is fully stuffed.

Find It at Rei for $38 and up.

5. Hestra Sport Classic Deerskin Primaloft Rib Gloves

Inspired by nature's materials, these durable gloves are hand-sewn from North American white-tailed deer skin and insulated with Primaloft polyester for weather-resistant warmth. Hestra's attention to detail is obvious in the super-soft pair's elasticized knitted cuff—which helps the gloves stay on while keeping heat in—and pre-curved fit.

Find It at Amazon for $110 and up.

6. Yeti Hopper Flip 18 Cooler

There are many reasons why Yetis are the coolers du jour: They keep food and drinks ice-cold for days, thanks to their superior insulation, even when the outside temp climbs. They're extremely durable and packed with convenient field-tested features. And, let's be honest, they have elevated the utilitarian fishing cooler to an object of desire. The Hopper Flip 18, measuring about 10 by 13 by 16 inches, can stash 20 cans of beer with plenty of ice for bonfires on the beach, kicking back post-trek, or a weekend off the grid.

Find It at Amazon for $300.

7. Biolite Holiday Bundle

BioLite CampStove2 limited edition holiday bundle
BioLite

A one-and-done gift for adventurers who want to travel compactly, BioLite's limited-edition bundle contains everything necessary for a meal in the wilderness. BioLite's wood-burning CampStove 2 generates electricity for the attached battery and USB charger as well as heat for cooking. The bundle includes two accessories: the KettlePot, a grab-and-go cook pot; and the lightweight Portable Grill, a tabletop model that can fit four burgers at once. The included FlexLight shines a light on your next culinary masterpiece. Save $40 when purchasing these three items as a bundle.

Find It at Biolite Energy for $200 and also at these other retailers:

8. Lifestraw Universal Water Filter And Adaptor Kit

Your giftee can turn her fave water bottle into a powerful filtration system with the Lifestraw Universal. The two-stage filter first removes water-borne bacteria and protozoa (in up to 1000 liters), then improves water quality and taste with a replaceable activated charcoal capsule (up to 100 liters), meeting EPA drinking water standards. In addition to the filter and carry bag, the adaptor kit includes two cap sizes and two mouthpieces that are compatible with most Nalgene, Camelbak, Klean Kanteen, Hydro Flask, and other standard bottles.

Find It: Amazon for $30.

9. Kicker EB400 Waterproof Bluetooth Earbuds

Let your friends rock out to Taylor Swift in the great outdoors without preventing anyone else from enjoying peace and quiet. Kicker's earbuds are both waterproof and wireless, and they won't fall out of one's ears during strenuous activity in any climate. Their 8-hour battery life means users will be able to complete a day hike without needing to power up in the middle. The earbuds come with anti-skip Bluetooth technology to connect to phones and tablets, a microphone for calls, and three pairs of color-coded silicone tips for a custom fit.

Find It at Amazon for $98 and also at these other retailers:

10. Tentsile Vista Tree Tent

A mashup of a traditional tent and impressive treehouse, the Vista is a triangular three-person tent that connects hammock-style to anchor trees at three points, letting campers sleep suspended above wet, rocky or uneven terrain. This three-season model features open sides and a central floor hatch for entry, plus a removable insect net. The rain fly/roof can also be removed so users can lie directly under the stars. (The above photo shows an un-roofed Vista mounted below a roofed Vista.) The ingenious design can be put up by a single person in about 15 minutes and packed down into its carry bag for easy transport.

Find It at Tentsile for $550.

11. Pendleton Three-Notebook Set

Three Pendleton notebooks

Great for jotting down field notes, this set of three 6-by-8-inch notebooks features Pendleton Woolen Mills's heritage blanket patterns on the covers. Each center-stitched book contains 64 pages of lined, uncoated paper for a slim profile that will fit in your giftee's pocket or pack without adding too much weight or bulk.

Find It at Pendleton for $13.

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