The mid-’80s were a terrible time for the San Francisco Giants. In 1984, the team lost 96 games and finished in last place — but no one on the roster had as horrible an experience as Wayne Doba. That season, the 33-year-old actor was selected to play the Giants’ first mascot. Well, not really a mascot, but an anti-mascot. The “Crazy Crab” was conceived as a satire of the mascot craze of the late ’70s that produced now-iconic characters like the Phillie Phanatic. The Giants’ Crab was not impressive to look at, and that was on purpose (they intentionally gave him a shabby foam costume and even went so far as to film a commercial in which then-manager Frank Robinson attempted to strangle him). When the Crab made his debut at Candlestick Park, the PA announcer would encourage fans to boo. It was an experiment unlike anything in professional sports
The team held a “Name the Team” contest that drew close to 6,000 submissions. Two weeks ago, the team announced a list of 10 options that was cut to five a week later.
After much chatter both locally and nationally, the team’s naming committee — owner Josh Solomon, general manager Tim Restall, consultant Chuck Domino and a California sports branding and marketing company — picked the name that ignited the most buzz, much of it mocking.
So the franchise once known as the Bristol Red Sox is now … the Hartford Yard Goats.
People in the YMCA gymnasium saw two live goats, hedgehogs, toy helicopters and a rain of confetti after the announcement. The goats were brought onto the stage, but they nervously strayed to the side.
Get used to seeing goats. Although the name Yard Goats is technically an old railroad slang term for an engine that switches a train to get it ready for another locomotive, the animal angle lends itself to logos and merchandise. Hartford’s stadium could have a petting zoo, at least on some nights.
“When you think of a name, it’s about what you can market and what appeals to kids,” Restall said. “We can do a lot with this name.”
“Don’t look any further, for I am the mascot you want,” wrote Babe Shiels, of The Bronx. The committee appointed by Damon Runyon, of “The American,” took the advice and Shiels was chosen yesterday to help Bill Donovan revive the Yankees.
There will be no trouble in distinguising the players from the mascot next season. Shiels is very small. He is shorter than [5 foot 7] Fritz Maisel.
[Third place finisher Joseph] Livingston’s statement of his qualifications for the job was somewhat original.
“Why do I want to be mascot?” said his letter. “Because I am crazy. Everybody in baseball is crazy. If I wasn’t crazy I wouldn’t think that I could get the job. If the people that got up this idea wasn’t crazy they wouldn’t expect a boy of ten to write a composition.” Joseph will receive a league baseball.
I’d have chosen Livingston. Sounds like a cool kid.
A look at San Jose’s appeal to the Supreme Court, touching on the history of MLB’s anti-trust exemption, as well as the baseball background of some of the current Justices:
Justice Sonia Sotomayor is famously a Yankees fan — “You can’t grow up in the South Bronx without knowing about baseball,” she once said — who has thrown out the first pitch at a game and had the team bring the World Series trophy to her Supreme Court chambers. For her Christmas present this past year, Sotomayor’s younger brother Juan commissioned a painting of three Latino former Yankees — Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera.
But the other justices may be pikers compared with Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., a diehard devotee of the Philadelphia Phillies. In a two-part (!) interview with a Philadelphia Daily News sportswriter in 2010, Alito displayed an encyclopedic knowledge of his team and remembered how Breyer had arranged for the team’s mascot, the Phillie Phanatic, to show up for Alito’s welcome dinner to the Supreme Court.
When Alito was 44, his wife sent him to Phillies Dream Week, the training camp for aging fans, where he turned a double-play and received the award as best fielder. “By the end of the week every single person there, I think without exception, had pulled his hamstring,” Alito said.
As baseball fans probably know, The Washington Nationals used to be the Montreal Expos. When the team packed up and left Canada in 2005, they left behind their name, their logo, their uniforms—and their mascot, Youppi!.