America’s Next Top Phanatic

In an hour or so, the Phillie Phanatic will be showing off his new look.

When Jim Salisbury, from NBC Sports Philadelphia put out the story the other day, all of Philadelphia went nuts.

“Why change a classic?” was the typical question, well complaint.

And I get it. I get the frustration. But what people are failing to remember is that the Phillies were actually sued by the creators of the Phanatic and there’s a federal law protecting artists.

Changes are nothing new for the Phanatic. His shape, markings and attire have evolved over the years and “evolve” is probably the right word because, according to the Phillies media guide, he was born in the Galapagos Islands, the place that helped Charles Darwin form his theory of evolution.

The changes to the Phanatic’s look come as the team is embroiled in a lawsuit with Bonnie Erickson and Wayde Harrison, who were hired to design the original Phanatic costume back in the late-1970s.

The Phillies purchased rights to the Phanatic in 1984, but federal law allows artists to renegotiate rights to their work after 35 years.

But as someone who’s worked in the entertainment industry, you start noticing things – like how character evolve over time. Just look at the opening of Disneyland and see the changes of Mickey and Minnie Mouse from 1955 to now. Hell, characters have changed over the last 20 years – usually for the better.

The Phillie Phanatic is as much Philadelphia as Rocky, the cheesesteak, the Libery Bell, and ow Gritty.

If the upgrade is to get out of paying a lawsuit, it is what it is.

But to those freaking out over an upgrade / makeover – relax. We all get a makeover, why can’t Phillies most lovable Phanatic?

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