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January 15, 2008

Dandy, The Yankees Former Mascot

Dandy.JPG

Funny, just yesterday, in a comments section here, the topic of 'Dandy' came up.

And, now, today, I noticed that Forbes has a feature on America's Top Sports Mascots. (Hat tip to MetsBlog.)

First, some background on 'Dandy' via the Times back in 1998:

One of the first of a new breed of team mascots aimed at bringing show biz to sports, the Phillie Phanatic is the brainchild of Bonnie Erickson and Wayde Harrison, a husband-and-wife team who run their design and merchandising company, Harrison/Erickson, out of their prewar apartment in Brooklyn Heights.

Not everyone thinks sports events need the extra touch. Of the nine professional sports teams in the New York market, five do not have mascots: the Yankees, Jets, Giants, Knicks and Rangers.

As Joseph M. Perello, vice president for business development for the Yankees, put it: ''Fans come to see the Yankees win. And that's entertainment.''

Mr. Perello said that as far as he knew, the Yankees has never had a mascot. Lonn Trost, the Yankees' general counsel, said there are official Yankee hamburgers, hot dogs and popcorn. But a mascot? No, he didn't think the team ever had one.

From 1982 to 1985, though, the Yankees had Dandy, a pinstriped character designed by Ms. Erickson.

Dandy was a failure. Mr. Harrison said that was because he wasn't allowed out of the nosebleed area in the stands. Nor did he do any outside appearances. According to Mr. Harrison, George Steinbrenner, the Yankees' principal owner, was less than enthusiastic about the mascot after Lou Pinella, the Yankee outfielder, got so angry at the San Diego Chicken's clowning that he threw his glove at the bird (not a Harrison/ Erickson creation). Mr. Steinbrenner, through his spokesman Howard Rubenstein, said he had no recollection of the pinstriped mascot.

But despite Dandy, Ms. Erickson said, ''Baseball has been berry berry good to me.''

As the Forbes feature tells us:

Hook 'em while they're young. It's a common corporate strategy: Appeal to young groups and secure a slew of customers for life. And when it comes to professional sports, that's the job of the mascot these days.

What started out as a gimmick to entertain fans during breaks in the action has become an ultra-important component for major- and minor-league sports teams looking to market at the grass roots by nabbing new fans at increasingly earlier ages.

"A six-year-old would rather see a mascot than a player," says Andy Applebee of Rochester, Mich.-based General Sports & Entertainment, an industry consultant.

I must confess that, back in the days of 'Dandy,' I was one of those people who thought that a mascot for the Yankees was a stupid idea. However, now, as a father of two, ages five and three, I can tell you that the kids love these silly things. My kids know the mascots for the Staten Island Yankees, Lakewood Blueclaws, Trenton Thunder, and Somerset Patriots (among others) - and they look forward to seeing them whenever we go to the ballpark.

Maybe it's time for the Yankees to think about bringing back a mascot? If they do, I just hope it's a little more interesting looking than 'Dandy.'

Posted by Steve Lombardi at January 15, 2008 02:09 PM

Comments

All mascots should be banned from baseball. Okay, I don't have kids, and maybe they enjoy them, but I hate mascots and I find them very annoying. If you ever go to a Philly or Met game, since their mascots are "famous," you'd be shocked how people react to these things. The Phillie Phanatic is particularly annoying. He's way too involved in the game. He harasses the other players (I saw him basically teabag a stretching Jose Reyes), he's on the opponents' dugout, he's leading charges, etc., etc. Mascots are definitely one aspect of sports that I do not understand. And if you're over the age of ten and you've taken a photo with Mr. Met, yes, you are a loser.

Posted by: baileywalk [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 15, 2008 02:42 PM

Baileywalk – you sound like I did, back in the day. Trust me, when you see the look on your kid’s face when they see the mascots at the park and get to interact with them, that’s when their value becomes clear. Also, my kids have the mini-versions of many of the ones they know, and, that’s another cool part of it. Just the other night, my son (who is three) had Sparky from the Patriots and Huck from the S.I. Yanks out and he was telling me how much he wanted to go see them again. It’s just like Forbes says, it’s a way to get the kids interested in, and wanting to go, to the ballpark way before they have the ability to be interested in the actual game. And, for baseball, that’s a good thing.

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 15, 2008 03:27 PM

Not a big fan of mascots either. But, as mentioned, they're there for the kids.

Funny how the brass has no recollection of Dandy. Also, you would think that there would be more pictures of him floating out there.

I will check my Yankees yearbooks to see if there was any mention of Dandy there.

Posted by: Raf [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 15, 2008 03:29 PM

It’s just like Forbes says, it’s a way to get the kids interested in, and wanting to go, to the ballpark way before they have the ability to be interested in the actual game.
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How did they do it before mascots?

Posted by: Raf [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 15, 2008 03:32 PM

Don't know if you plan an article on it or not, but the Spring Training Invitee list is out.

Interesting prospects/young players to watch: Colin Curtis (supposedly an excellent centerfielder, but hit like crap in AA; still like him though), Eric Duncan (this is the year he finally puts up numbers, I think), Brett Gardner (your favorite, Steve), Alan Horne (potential setup man if the bullpen is a disaster), Steve Jackson (surprised to see him on the list; had a bad year), Austin Jackson (my favorite prospect and hopefully our next centerfielder), Daniel McCutchen (this is an important year for him, given his age, and he's another starter-to-the-major-league-bullpen candidate), Mark Melancon (great that he's healthy; he could really help the Yanks during the year out of the 'pen), Jesus Montero (all of 18 years old; cannot wait to see him and see his swing), Auston Romine (another young catcher they recently drafted), Jose Tabata (top position-player prospect in the system and hopefully Bobby's eventual replacement), Marcos Vechionacci (would be nice if he truly broke out this year).

Some other interesting non-prospect names:

Jason Lane, Heath Phillips, Greg Porter, Darrell Rasner, Scott Strickland, Billy Traber.

Posted by: baileywalk [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 15, 2008 03:32 PM

I saw him basically teabag a stretching Jose Reyes
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Bailey, that's seriously one of the funniest things I've read in a while.

Posted by: MJ [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 15, 2008 03:53 PM

I'll probably look into the NRI soon.

~~~How did they do it before mascots?~~~

Good question. Maybe kids just didn't get into it, then, before the age of 8 or 9 or 10, where they were then old enough to understand the game?

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 15, 2008 04:46 PM

"Freddy Sez" doesn't count as a mascot?

Posted by: Pete [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 16, 2008 01:02 PM

"Freddy Sez" doesn't count as a mascot?
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You ever see the Freddy rip-off in Shea? Some guy wears a Mets Jersey with "Cow-Bell Man" on the back and walks around clanging a cowbell.

Two things:

1) As many times as I've seen him, I've been disappointed that no one has ever shouted, "I need -- MORE COWBELL!"

2) The dude misspelled his own name! Someone should tell him cowbell doesn't have a hyphen. I can't believe this guy started this whole persona and has been at Shea for so long, and no one bothered to tell him that he spelled his own name wrong.

I remember sitting there at a Phillies-Mets game and there were some Philly fans in front of us, watching this guy, and one of them deadpanned, "Ah, yes, of course, it's Cow Bellman," and we all laughed our asses off.

Posted by: baileywalk [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 16, 2008 01:26 PM