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UPSETTING DAY

Upsetting Day: The Mascot Handbook 🌭

It’s been a while since we’ve discussed the deeply disturbing history of sports mascots. We’ve covered the cursed lore of the Chicago White Sox mascot before, but little did we know all mascot lore is that magical mix of tragic, hilarious, and oops, uh oh, it’s tragic again. For instance, the man considered baseball’s first mascot was probably driven insane by mascotism, committed to an asylum for loving baseball too much, got tuberculosis in the asylum, and died. Where did I learn that thrilling informational tidbit? The Mascot Handbook, a rundown of all the professional working mascots up to 1982 and their tragic backstories. If you enjoy the bloody tragedy of Game Of Thrones, but with people in better costumes, this is your week!

Let’s start with nature’s first mascot, Charlie “Victory” Faust. He was an overly confident man who told the manager of the Giants that a fortune teller predicted he would pitch for the Giants and they would win the pennant. It turned out that he was so terrible at baseball that it was funny, and The Giants decided to let him on the team, basically gaslighting him into thinking he was really good at baseball. They would even get the other teams in on it and have them pretend not to be able to hit his slow, sad, pitches.

The Giants did win the pennant all three years Charlie was on the team, but he basically annoyed the manager about letting him play too much and was let go. Since he thought he was a great player, he never understood why his baseball career lost traction after the Giants dropped him. Basically, a man with delusions of grandeur was taught that he was absolutely right about how great he was for three years and then suddenly woke up in a world where he was crazy the whole time, and everyone was Truman Showing him into oblivion until he was committed. That’s the warm and fuzzy mascot story The Mascot Handbook starts out with, and it only gets worse from there.

Is anyone shocked that a mentally ill man and hunchbacked batboy were the first mascots American baseball teams could come up with? I’m honestly surprised people didn’t flock to the stadium for the antics of hunchbacked batboy. Why would anyone pursue mascots after the marketing failure of hunchback batboy? Well, for the same reasons they were drawn to hunchback batboy in the first place– the cruel darkness inside Man. Mascot suits gave fans a target to mock, and if you’re from Milwaukee, sometimes bite.

This book will constantly look you in the eye and tell you the worst moment of a mascot’s life as if it’s a cool little tidbit you might like to hear. They file every horrific assault away in the middle of a paragraph about boring mascot bureaucracy, stuff that you might otherwise skim. They’ll say, “Professor Dancy Crab is booked for public appearances by the PR team of The Seattle Starlight. Once, a fan hit him with his car and kept on driving. Didn’t even look back. It wasn’t serious; he has a master’s in theater studies.” The entry for Socceroo is actually darker than this, and I was just trying to emotionally prepare you for it.

Nothing could possibly make that story worse, right? Socceroo was stabbed. A man was stabbed! Well, a teenage boy who thought, “Hey, I bet it would be fun to be a professional masco– oh god, why, why are you stabbing me?” Fortunately, his injuries weren’t serious. It was a light stabbing.

The way this book tried to put a professional spin on Socceroo’s stabbing was frankly unsettling to me. It feels like the people writing it were very pro-mascot but the mascots themselves wanted to warn people to stay away. “No one should dream of mascotting!” The mascots are screaming to us but we can’t hear them from the prison of their fur and feathers. In fact, sometimes people will fight to become mascots even when the team has not asked them to.

There are several stories in this book of people who became team mascots by sheer force of will. Heroes from the bygone age of hunchbacked batboys like Krazy George, Wild Bill Hagy (winner of the University Of Maryland’s Snappin Terp award), Uncle Willy, Dolfan Denny, Crazy Ray, The Big Wheel, and, of course, renowned rainbow wigged Jesus fan, Rock N Rollen.

There are no bits in those names; even the Snappin Terp award is real, even though it’s the most Seanbaby thing I’ve ever heard.

Some regular guys who want to be mascots don’t just put on a silly wig and Jesus shirt and head out into the crowd, though. Multiple fans in this book saw that their team didn’t have a mascot, designed their own suits, and made themselves a stabbing target for the bit! These can’t be cheap suits. Someone put a lot of time and money into creating The Terrible Fan, and in response, The Steelers still chose not to have a mascot for years, probably because they understood the risks.

How much of a burn is it that The Steelers now have a mascot, and it is not The Terrible Fan? It’s some fucking chad named Steely McBeam. Apparently, the big yellow square wasn’t hot enough for The Steelers. They needed a mascot that would test well with the women 20-65 crowd, and by God, they got him. Look at this specimen of a big yellow man.

Steely McBeam is far too hot to be featured in this mascot book, though! The Mascot Handbook is specifically for the freaks and weirdos of pre-1982 American sports. Mascots like Soccerhead, a man with severely impaired vision on roller skates! Now the mascot-related injuries don’t have to come from the crowd at all. They’re baked into the mascot costume itself. Look at this thing. Fucking look at it:

Soccerhead looks like an accidental death on its way to another accidental death. There’s also the prototype for Steely Mcbeam, Yankee Frankie, from the era between man and monster, where they experimented with man-mascots wielding paper mache “man” heads. They hot glued some old shag carpeting from a wet mini-van to Yankee Frankie’s head and unleashed it like a penguin-shaped camera in a penguin colony. Yankee Frankie looks like he has a scarecrow with a trunk full of human organs for sale. He walked so Steely McBeam could take your mom out to dinner.

There is also a mini horse named Touchdown in this book. There’s nothing wrong with Touchdown. He is perfect. I just thought you might like a break from the head horrors, and there’s no way in hell I’m ever going to read a book for this website that includes a teeny tiny horse named Touchdown and not show him to all of you. This is a 1900hotdog guarantee.

Ok, now back to the terrifying freak mascots. Is it just me, or are Ribbie and RooBarb totally Fucking? Why is Roobarb holding Ribbie’s trunk like that? Who told them to do that? This gives me so many uncomfortable questions about what these creatures are and how they bang. The energy of this photograph is sexually menacing at its absolute peak. It doesn’t get worse than this.

You believed me, you fool! Did you think I was going to go all the way through this article without showing you Wild Bill receiving his Snappin Terp award from a University of Maryland cheerleader? Of course, it could get worse—it could always get worse! That is the moral of this website. Have you learned nothing in our years together? I’m disappointed in you.

As haunting as it is being so near an open and unwashed Terp, a single chapter title from this book has stuck in my mind for weeks. It’s like they hired Steven King to do this one chapter title.

It’s a very regular chapter about The Bears’ first mascot, a bear. They didn’t have to call it that, but they decided to freak me out. I’m getting word that three mascots died while I was writing this article in fan-related maulings. Their injuries were not serious, good bye!

This article was brought to you by our fine sponsor and Hot Dog Supreme: Cheddar Wolf, the tragically devoured former mascot of the Kenosha Milkwolves.

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