Souvenir of the Yankees mascot Dandy, the ephemeral pear-shaped creation
The Yankees are known for their adherence to tradition, chic aesthetics, button-down manners, and premium products. Yankee Stadium lacks the frills and family entertainment that are commonly found in other MLB stadiums. The PA announcer is not campy. The seventh inning stretch doesn’t involve field runs or anything like that. A cartoonish mascot wouldn’t feel out of place.
The Yankees’ formal manner contrasts with the team’s latest lucky charm, and perhaps that’s why the image of the team rallying around Bronxia the Turtle, Néstor Cortes Jr.’s new pet. , is so endearing. Bronxia the Turtle became the team mascot the Yankees desperately needed. Since adopting Bronxia, the Yankees are 8-2, advancing into the AL Wild Card Race. Fans hugged the little guy and whatever kind of winning karma he brought to the clubhouse.
But long before Bronxia, the Yankees employed a fleeting and hapless mascot named Dandy. The facts surrounding Dandy are a bit hazy. Even today, the Yankees seem to view Dandy as an embarrassment to the legendary franchise – if they admit he ever existed.
The front office sees Dandy as a stain on the Bronx Bombers case file and for all intents and purposes he has been wiped out of their history books. It doesn’t fit with the Yankees’ winning heritage and tale of perfection. The late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner even claimed to have no recollection of Dandy (a claim which is patently false as there are records of Steinbrenner’s feuds with Dandy’s creator over the color of the stripes on the suit. by Dandy). So who was Dandy? What is its backstory? And why is he so disparaged by his unique frankness?
According to Rick Ford, the Ithaca College graduate who donned the Dandy costume, Dandy made his debut for the Yankees during the 1979 baseball season, but has not been recognized by the team since his abrupt demise in 1981. During his three-year tenure, Dandy never enjoyed the spotlight in the Bronx and made no public appearances outside the stadium.
Apparently the Yankees also restricted Dandy’s comings and goings in the stadium. Unlike Bronxie, who crawls freely around the Yankees clubhouse, the Yankees only allowed Dandy to interact with fans in the nosebleed sections of the upper deck of the stands. A 1998 New York Times baseball mascot story found no Yankees reps willing to admit that Dandy ever existed. This raises an obvious question: if the Yankees were so ashamed of Dandy, why was he created in the first place?
In the late 1970s, Steinbrenner noticed the popularity of team mascots like Mr. Met, the Phillie Phanatic, and the San Diego Chicken. He saw the value of these mascots and thought the Yankees could increase their game attendance by adding a mascot. AJ Mass, the author of YIt’s hot here: adventures in the weird and woolly world of sports mascots, thinks Steinbrenner wanted his own mascot in the Bronx after watching the Philadelphia Phillies’ success with the Phanatic, which debuted in the 1978 Phillies season.
The Yankees approached New York designers Bonnie Erickson and Wayde Harrison, who also created Miss Piggy and the Phanatic, to lead the project. According to an interview with the New York Post, Erickson didn’t receive much direction from the Yanks and the mascot design was left to his imagination. The Yankees then leased the design on a three-year contract for $ 30,000.
And so, Dandy was born.
Dandy was a large, pear-shaped, bird-like creature with orange hair and a walrus-style mustache similar to that worn by then-team captain Thurman Munson. He wore a pinstripe suit and Yankees side cap. Erickson said Steinbrenner insisted that Dandy’s stripes be navy, not the royal blue Erickson originally proposed.
Sadly, Dandy’s rollout was postponed and never really happened in a public way. It was never officially introduced to Yankees fans. Many fans didn’t even know Dandy. There are several reasons why this was the case.
While Steinbrenner had an enthusiastic attitude about making Dandy, Dandy’s planned debut coincided with an incident in Seattle between San Diego Chicken and Yankees outfielder Lou Piniella.
On July 10, 1979 – several weeks before Dandy’s debut – the Yankees were on the road to play against the Mariners when the San Diego Chicken (which was in Seattle to promote the 1979 All-Star Game) started taunting the players. of the Yankees and appeared to put a spell on Yankees pitcher Ron Guidry. Piniella got annoyed and ended up throwing his glove over the chicken to stop taunting Guidry. When the incident received unflattering press, Steinbrenner, who has always had a special place in his heart for Piniella, felt he had to publicly defend his player. “Mascots have no place in baseball,” Steinbrenner told many reporters.
Wanting to wait for Piniella’s incident with the San Diego chicken to end, the Yankees delayed Dandy’s debut and scheduled him for later in the season. As his introduction drew closer, however, a more tragic event than Piniella’s fight with the San Diego Chicken put Dandy on the sidelines for a longer period of time.
On August 2, 1979, the beloved Munson died in a plane crash. Because Dandy wore a similarly styled mustache and had the same hair color as Munson, the Yankees thought the mascot looked too much like Munson and thought it would be in bad taste for Dandy to make his debut soon after the death. premature of Munson. As a result, Dandy was put on hiatus.
Dandy eventually returned to the Yankees, although according to reports that were made in an attempt to uncover Dandy’s mysterious story, Dandy was confined to the upper deck area of Yankee Stadium. He was located away from the cameras and most of the fans. Approaching an MLB mascot as an embarrassing ulterior motive defies the purpose of the team that employs one. The mascots are meant to entertain and interact with fans, but the Yankees have hidden Dandy from most of the stadium.
The contract between Acme Mascots (the Harrison and Erickson design company) and the Yankees ended in 1981, after which it was not renewed. Despite the fact that they seemed to be ashamed of the mascot, the Yankees actually wanted to renew Dandy’s contract when the lease expired. It was Erickson and Harrison, the creators of Dandy, who refused to extend Dandy’s contract with the Yankees. They didn’t like the way the team treated the cute pear-shaped bird.
Fortunately, Bronxie’s introduction to the Yankees fan base was successful, unlike Dandy’s. Dandy’s failure, like many decisions the Yankees made in this 2021 season, was the result of poor management and planning.