When the Yankees had a Dandy

 

Dandy… the Yankees failed mascot experiment from 1979-1981

 

This guy was a short-lived experiment in fan interaction. A strange and unlikely event in the history of the New York Yankees. Take a look at his face. Because you might not know who he is.

He was the official mascot of the Bronx Bombers in the late 1970s who was done in by a chicken, a hex, the death of the Yankees captain, and the Boss. This is his story.

In 1979 George Steinbrenner decided that the Yankees needed a mascot. The Phillie Phanatic was a massive success with the Philidelphia fanbase and The Boss never one to miss a trick decided that the Yankees would have one too.

He commissioned the same people who had designed the Phanatic, but then things got heated when Steinbrenner argued that they had used the wrong shade of blue for the mascot. However, in the end, George decided to sign a lease of $30,000 for three years.

The way seemed clear for the Yankees new mascot to enter the limelight. But then in July of 1979, the Yankees were playing the Mariners in Seatle. The San Diego Chicken mascot was at the ballpark ahead of the All-Star Game and decided to have some fun at the expense of the Yankees pitcher Ron Guidry. He made a hex motion at the pitcher and was chased away by left fielder Lou Piniella who threw his glove at the mascot. Afterwards, Steinbrenner denounced mascots as having “no place in baseball.”

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Dandy in action 

 

Despite this, Dandy made his debut later in July. But then two days later in August, he was put on hiatus when the Yankee captain Thurman Munson was killed when he crashed his jet plane. There was a striking similarity between Munson and Dandy it was thought.

Dandy was sent to the upper decks of Yankee stadium where he was consigned for the rest of his existence. He was hardly seen outside the stadium too, but famously he did make an appearance at an event at Madison Square Garden where he opened for Bill Crosby. But this event is more well known for the fact that Dandy was nearly torn to shreds by a group of boisterous and drunken bankers.

Rick Ford, the actor who performed the role of Dandy abducted the suit and held it for ransom after a dispute with the team, and returned the suit once the dispute was resolved. It led to the end of Ford’s time as the mascot. Dandy continued to wander around the upper decks of The Stadium for two more years until his lease ran out. At which point the company who made him decided not to offer the Yankees a renewal on the costume feeling that the Yankees never really gave him a chance, nor did they do enough to use him as a marketing tool.  It was rumoured that he was last seen being attacked by a gang of fans.

The suit was destroyed years later when the designers were clearing space in their workshop. Poor Dandy was never really given the chance to become a Yankee icon. He could have, had the owners been more committed to the idea of having him that they turned out, or had Piniella not gotten angered by the Chicken’s antics that faithful day before Dandy’s debut. Nor indeed had he not looked so much like the tragic Munson. One can only wonder what might have been. But that is the thing about sports. Sometimes things don’t go to plan. Still, we can only shake our heads and wonder, at the time when the Yankees once had a 7-foot tall pear-shaped bird mascot called Dandy.

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