On Tuesday, Forbes picked their top 10 mascots across the professional sports leagues in the United States and Benny the Bull came out on top.
Awareness, likeability, attention-getting, photo friendliness, interaction and fun were all factored into The Marketing Arm’s Davie Brown Index.
If you’ve ever gone to a Chicago Bulls game at the United Center, one of the memories you’ll almost always come away with is of Benny. The team mascot is the center of the in-arena entertainment and he never disappoints.
From spilling a giant bag of popcorn on unsuspecting fans, to hanging from the rafters of the United Center banging a drum, if you’re not watching the action on the court, your eye is almost always on Benny.
Benny has been the Bulls mascot for the better part of 40 years and does more than just make appearances at home games. Benny can be seen out and about and different events (approximately 250 a year) around Chicago and even outside of the city as he’s usually a fixture during the NBA’s All-Star Weekend as well.
Here’s a round-up on the rest of the Top 10.
Wally the Green Monster (Boston Red Sox) – His name is derived from the Green Monster, the nickname of the 37-foot 6-inch wall in left field at Fenway Park. Wally debuted on April 13, 1997. Although he was a big hit with children, older fans did not immediately adopt him as part of the franchise until 2009 when Wally became more accepted by Red Sox fans of all ages, largely due to broadcaster Jerry Remy creating stories about him and sharing them during televised games.
Homer (Atlanta Braves) – He has a baseball-shaped head and looks a little like Mr. Met (NYM). Before having the baseball head however, Homer was the personification of the old “Screaming Warrior” logo the Braves used before dropping it in 1988. Homer’s full name is Homer the Brave. This is meant to sound like “home of the brave”, the last words of the National Anthem. Incidentally, “homer” is also the longtime nickname for a home run.
The Orioles Bird (Baltimore Orioles) – is the official mascot and is a cartoon version of the actual bird. He was “hatched” on April 6, 1979 out of a giant egg at then-Orioles home Memorial Stadium. According to Orioles.com, The Oriole Bird’s favorite foods are “mostly bird seed, with occasional crab cake.”
Sourdough Sam (San Francisco 49ers) – he has five nicknames: Sam, Sammy, Samster, Sammiester, Samarama. He wears jersey #49.
Just prior to the 2006 NFL Season, Sam’s appearance was altered somewhat. He used to appear as a character with a scruffy brown beard, brown eyes, and a wide-brimmed 10-gallon hat with a chunk taken out of its brim. He then appeared as a clean-shaven gold panner with blue eyes and a hat without any imperfections. A bearded Sourdough Sam returned for the 2011 season. He originated as the team’s logo from 1946-62, where a prospector was depicted shooting two pistols and jumping in the air.
San Diego Chicken (San Diego Padres[now freelance]) – In March 1974, Ted Giannoulas (who was a student at San Diego State University) was hired to wear the first suit for a promotion to distribute Easter eggs to children at the San Diego Zoo. A redesigned suit followed that more closely resembled The Famous Chicken today.
The Chicken, whose antics entertained steadily larger crowds, moved on to features at concerts and sporting events (appearing at more than 520 San Diego Padres games in a row).
The success of the Famous Chicken helped lead to mascots becoming widespread throughout professional sports, particularly the MLB. The Chicken was named one of the 100 most powerful people in sports for the 20th century by The Sporting News. The New York Times referred to Giannoulas as “the Lawrence Olivier of sports mascots.” Currently, the Chicken continues to make appearances annually across the United States.
Rowdy (Dallas Cowboys) – He’s been the team’s mascot since 1996. Rowdy takes part in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, The Salvation Army, The Rise School of Dallas, Special Olympics, retirement centers, hospitals, schools, birthday parties, grand openings, Minor League Baseball games around the country, conventions, parades, grocery store promotions, NBA games, weddings and sometimes will take a visit to the crowd during halftime. Rowdy’s job includes, but is not limited to creating game day enthusiasm at Texas Stadium. He does this at home games by driving in on his four-wheeler, tossing t-shirts into the stands, using signs like “Let’s Go Cowboys,” and mocking the opponents. Rowdy participates at every home game and selected away games.
Phillie Phanatic (Philadelphia Phillies) – He is a large, furry, green creature with an extendable tongue. According to his official biography, the Phanatic is originally from the Galapagos Islands and is the Phillies’ biggest fan. He performs various routines to entertain fans during baseball games at Citizens Bank Park and makes public relation and goodwill appearances for the Phillies. The Phanatic is usually acknowledged as one of the best ballpark mascots.
Mr. Met (New York Mets) – He can be seen at Citi Field during Mets home games, has appeared in several commercials as part of ESPN’s This is Sportcenter campaign, and has been elected into the Mascot Hall of Fame. Mr. Met was Forbes Magazine‘s #1 mascot in all of sports last year.
Pat the Patriot (New England Patriots) – is a larger-than-life crowd pleaser. Whether standing curbside waving to passers-by, signing autographs, posing for photos or simply interacting with your patrons, Pat Patriot is sure to draw a crowd to your event!