PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillie Phanatic will be at Citizens Bank Park this season.
Well, the reimagined Phanatic will be.
Maybe a cardboard cutout of you will be there, too.
It seems like eons ago, but the Phillies introduced alterations to their world-famous mascot in February due to a copyright lawsuit with Bonnie Erickson and Wayde Harrison. Erickson and Harrison co-created the original Phanatic costume in 1978. The Phillies purchased the copyright in '84, but federal law states that artists can renegotiate their rights after 35 years. Erickson and Harrison told the Phillies in 2018 that they planned to reclaim the rights to the Phanatic. The Phillies filed a counterclaim in '19 to maintain their rights, saying their own creative efforts made the Phanatic what it is today.
The co-creator’s agreement with the Phillies was terminated on June 15. The lawsuit is still pending, meaning whenever the team plays games at Citizens Bank Park this season, the new Phanatic will be there.
Some of the Phanatic’s new looks include a cylindrical nose, reshaped eyes, recolored eyebrows, a reshaped rear end (including a tail), and new shoes and socks.
“Everybody needs a glam up sometimes,” Bryce Harper said this spring. “I've got long hair right now. I'm always changing.”
But where exactly will the Phanatic be at the ballpark? Major League Baseball earlier this week issued a 101-page “2020 Operations Manuel” regarding policies and practices during the COVID-19 pandemic. In section 4.3.5 “In-Game Entertainment” it mentions mascots: “Home Clubs may have their mascot in the ballpark if they choose, however under no circumstances are mascots permitted on the field of play or in any other Restricted Area on game days.”
It seems clear that the Phanatic will not be tormenting opposing players in front of the visitors’ dugout before games. It seems unlikely he will be dancing on the Phillies' dugout, either. It also is difficult to picture him shooting hot dogs into the stands because, well, there will be no fans in the stands to catch them.
But the Phillies are exploring the idea of an app that will allow some fans to upload an image of themselves for a fee to be donated to charity. A company will reproduce the image into a cardboard cutout to be placed in the stands.
Real Phillies fans at the ballpark? It is unclear if the team could get to that point, although the Rangers and Astros are exploring the idea.