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... But Liquor Is Quicker
2008-06-02 22:45
by Emma Span
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

Have the Yankees ever had a mascot?

Yesterday, I would have answered this question with a quick and confident “no.” But I would have been wrong.

In the early 80s, the Yankees hired the creators of the popular Phillie Phanatic. They were rewarded with “Dandy,” a fuzzy debacle that is apparently supposed to resemble some sort of bird -- though looking at the little photographic evidence available, I can’t confirm that with any certainty. Dandy was an elongated white blob adorned with pinstripes, a Yankees cap, a flesh-colored ball for a nose, and a swath of bright material that is either meant to represent a big red mustache or, perhaps, wattle.


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Fans reacted to this misbegotten Frankenstein the way you’d expect: with a potent mixture of fear and hostility. In the end the Yankees never let Dandy onto the field, into the dugout, or even out of the Stadium; instead he was limited to roaming the upper deck, where he was routinely heckled, harassed, and threatened.

How on earth did I not know about this? All the games I’ve watched, books I’ve read, fans I’ve talked to, and I never heard a word about it? I suppose it makes sense, really – I was too young to pay attention at the time, and nobody writes books or articles on the New York Yankees of 1982-1985. Those games never end up on YES as “Yankee Classics”. Besides, a little research reveals that most fans who lived through the Dandy era seem to have tried their best to forget. My father’s reaction was typical:

“Mascot? The Yankees never had a… ohhhhh, yeah, that's right! God, people hated that thing.”

I felt a little better about my ignorance when I discovered that, back in 1998, not even Lonn Trost or George Steinbrenner remembered Dandy. The New York Times had the scoop:

Lonn Trost, the Yankees' general counsel, said there are official Yankee hamburgers, hot dogs and popcorn. But a mascot? No, he didn't think the team ever had one.

From 1982 to 1985, though, the Yankees had Dandy, a pinstriped character designed by Ms. Erickson.

Dandy was a failure. Mr. Harrison said that was because he wasn't allowed out of the nosebleed area in the stands. Nor did he do any outside appearances. According to Mr. Harrison, George Steinbrenner, the Yankees' principal owner, was less than enthusiastic about the mascot after Lou Pinella, the Yankee outfielder, got so angry at the San Diego Chicken's clowning that he threw his glove at the bird (not a Harrison/ Erickson creation). Mr. Steinbrenner, through his spokesman Howard Rubenstein, said he had no recollection of the pinstriped mascot.

 

One of my neighbors, a fan since the 1960s, told me that in his recollection, Dandy lasted only a few weeks before he was beaten up by a group of angry or, perhaps, simply terrified nosebleed seat natives, after which the traumatized man in the suit resigned and was never replaced. I feel a little bad for finding this story hilarious, but in any case he seems to have exaggerated it a bit over the decades -- by the Times’ account, Dandy hung in there for years, and I haven’t been able to track down any hard evidence that he was ever actually physically assaulted. Even if it isn't strictly true, I like this outsized distillation of events, which seems to capture the popular imagination’s image of the lawless Yankee Stadium of the 80s.

In this summer of endless nostalgia, everyone goes on and on about how the Yankees will be tearing down the field where Ruth and Gehrig played, the site of 26 World Championships, blah blah blah... but do they ever mention that after this year, the home of Dandy will be gone, too? They do not. I say that poor bird(???) deserves better.

Anybody have any memories of Dandy that you'd like to share?

Comments
2008-06-03 08:21:50
1.   Raf
I don't think there was any mention of him in the Yankees yearbooks either, though I will have to double-check.

I find the idea of a mascot, in the south bronx, getting it's @ss kicked hilarious. Sums up that era of Yankee Stadium perfectly.

This run of success? New to me. Yankees drawing 4 million people? New to me. Yankee Stadium having a family friendly atmosphere (especially in the bleachers?) New to me.

2008-06-03 08:24:20
2.   Raf
Also, WasWatching had an entry on Dandy this past offseason, linking to a couple of articles.

http://tinyurl.com/5bnqt6

2008-06-03 08:48:33
3.   dianagramr
2

"Teabagging Jose Reyes" could make for one heck of a roto team name!

But, back to reality .... and I have no recollection of this "Dandy" you speak of.

2008-06-03 08:56:09
4.   kylepetterson
Did anybody else think of this:
http://tinyurl.com/5jb4ef
when they saw that picture?
2008-06-03 09:19:07
5.   ms october
4 yep - perfect.

i was probably at an age where i might have had an interest in dandy - but fortunately i can't say i recall dandy. and geez if that's not the lamest name ever for a mascot of the yanks. and have to second raf 1 dandy getting a beat down in the bronx is quite fitting.

2008-06-03 09:28:15
6.   nemecizer
I would have been 12 or 13 at the time, but if I saw that monstrosity coming at me in Section 5 I would have kicked its ass as well.

No names on the back of uniforms, no crazy corporate name for the stadium, no long hair, no crazy facial hair, and no mascots. That suits me just fine.

Tough loss last night, I kept hoping we'd pull 3 out of 4. But I am excited to see Joba tonight. I get the distinct impression that he threw many more sliders last year than he has this year, and I think it is reflected in his K rate. We'll see what he has, but I have a much better feeling about him than I did about Hughes or Kennedy. If Joba is what I think he can be, and Hughes is close to his potential, we will be a very good team.

2008-06-03 09:50:33
7.   JL25and3
I spent quite a bit of time in the upper deck in the 80's...and I don't remember Dandy. At least, I don't think I do; the picture looked vaguely familiar, but I think that's mostly because it's a bad knockoff of your basic 80's mascot. I don't have any memories of actually seeing him/her/it.

As for "the lawless Yankee Stadium of the 80s," I was at a game against KC - I remember it as a sunny weekend afternoon with a big crowd. The next day I read that a woman sitting in the upper deck happened to wave her hand in the air - and ended up with a bullet hole in it.

2008-06-03 09:52:19
8.   JL25and3
Btw, Emma, I like the headline. You don't see nearly enough Ogden Nash being quoted these days.
2008-06-03 10:05:01
9.   Jeb
"Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker"...Willie Wonka.
2008-06-03 10:11:08
10.   JL25and3
9 Willie Wonka may have used the line, but he stole it from Ogden Nash. It's the entire text of a little poem he called, "Reflections on Ice-Breaking."

http://www.westegg.com/nash/ice-breaking.html

2008-06-03 10:24:02
11.   Cliff Corcoran
Ogend Nash, Willie Wonka, Ozzie Osborne ("wine if fine, but wiskey's quicker, suicide is slow with liquor"), the Yankee Doodle Dandy. Now that's some free association . . .
2008-06-03 10:50:19
12.   Flip Play
Isn't Freddy Sez our unofficial mascot?
2008-06-03 10:59:57
13.   williamnyy23
Is my memory serves correctly, Dandy was created because of the success of other mascots like the Fanatic and S.D. Chicken. His intial run wasn't met well, and after a minor altercation with whom I believe was Nettles, the Yankees decided to remove him from the field and confine him to the upper deck. I never heard of Dandy being assaulted by a fan, but it could have happened.

7 I never heard that gun shot story, but did hear one about a mother switching seats with a child and taking a bullet in here arm that might otherwise have gone into the child's head. Of course, both stories may have been urban legends.

What is fact is that the White Sox had to extend the height of their scoreboard in the new Comiskey Park because they noticed bullet holes in the upper deck, which is situated directly across from a housing project.

2008-06-03 11:16:05
14.   JL25and3
13 We could easily be talking about the same story. Over the years, my telling of the story may well have drifted a little in the details. If so, though, it wasn't an urban legend, because I definitely saw an article, with picture, in the newspaper.
2008-06-03 11:16:05
15.   rbj
I've wondered about that mascot from time to time. I remember seeing him initially on the broadcasts, before he had a name -- wasn't there a naming contest for him? Then I didn't hear any more about him. I figured he was a bit late in paying his bookie.

Ah, the pleasures of the bleachers in the 1980s. About the worst I did there was smoke a little herb, though I did wonder whether it was such a good idea to sell mini-bats at Yankee Stadium.

2008-06-03 11:23:18
16.   JL25and3
15 I almost never sat in the bleachers. Back then, you could get a seat in the top of the upper reserve for 8 bucks. I'd sit right behind home plate, allllll the way up - great seats. And yeah - in that era, security wasn't about to drag their asses all the way up there just because someone was smoking a joint.

Mini-bats? I remember when they gave away real, full-sized bats for Bat Day.

2008-06-03 11:34:32
17.   williamnyy23
16 I remember buying those $8 (and lower) upper reserve seats and then sitting anywhere I wanted. I never could understand why anyone would pay for the premium seats when movement throughout Yankee Stadium was so easy.
2008-06-03 11:47:15
18.   alsep73
I was actually wondering just the other day if my memories of a mustachioed Yankee mascot in pinstripes were real or just some sort of college after-effect. Thanks for confirming this small bit of my sanity.
2008-06-03 11:54:35
19.   dlewanda
It may have never been a physical mascot, but didn't the Yankees have a "cartoonish" Uncle Sam-like character in a stars-and-stripes outfit with tails and a top hat? I don't remember seeing that recently, but I have a team pennant from the 80's with a logo like this (http://www.microurl.org//15). Am I totally off base?
2008-06-03 12:14:48
20.   Murray
7 If I remember this correctly, one of the New York tabloids ran the front page headline "Bullet Night" after the incident in question.
2008-06-03 12:16:03
21.   Murray
17 As late as 1987, the last six rows of the upper deck were General Admission, and tickets cost $4.50.
2008-06-03 12:29:06
22.   JL25and3
21 My memory playing tricks again. I remember those top rows as being $8, but you and william convince me that I was mistaken.

I probably should have had one less joint up there.

2008-06-03 12:36:19
23.   Knuckles
Off topic, but does anyone know when the rained-out Yanks/Mets tilt from a few weeks back will be made up? I head a day/night Bronx/Queens split on the late June Saturday...but can't find anythingt confirmed.
2008-06-03 12:43:22
24.   JL25and3
23 Here's how I understand it. If ESPN makes them the Sunday night game, the makeup will be Sunday afternoon. If not, I think they were talking about Friday.

In any case, it's not settled yet.

2008-06-03 12:46:04
25.   Bob Timmermann
That photo of Dandy is sort of like seeing a picture of Bigfoot.

Or possibly Kyle Farnsworth.

2008-06-03 13:02:12
26.   dlewanda
As an aside about Farnsworth(less), did anyone else catch the ESPN commentators mentioning about how none of the infielders appeared to be giving him support as he struggled in the 8th inning in his "new" role (as Joba's replacement)? Were they just blathering (likely), or are we to believe that Farnsworth is as much a persona non grata in the clubhouse as he is in Yankee-fandom?
2008-06-03 13:09:54
27.   rbj
26 I dunno, but it's not like Andy was making friends last night either.
2008-06-03 13:18:00
28.   standuptriple
25 Don't you mean "Productive Pavano"?
2008-06-03 13:20:13
29.   tommyl
7 13 You guys mean this?

http://tinyurl.com/6sydkx

2008-06-03 13:36:50
30.   JL25and3
29 That's exactly the story I was thinking of. And on a Thursday night against Minnesota, just as I said.

Here's an earlier article on the shooting: http://tinyurl.com/556wxk, though it might require a subscription. If so, I'll post more of it later, after I get home from work.

But I did want to point out that william's memory was also accurate: "Mrs. Barrett, who is four and a half months' pregnant, was sitting in the upper deck with her husband, Kevin, 37, and two sons, Sean, 9, and K. C., 7...The shot was fired just after Mrs. Barrett had exchanged seats with her older son."

2008-06-03 13:41:22
31.   dlewanda
27 Fair enough. I only caught the last 2 innings on TV, so I wouldn't be able to compare the fielders' expressions to earlier in the game, but they looked pretty lackluster when Farnsworth walked the guy before the strikeout to end the inning. Without Posada, there seems to be less of that "red-ass" attitude. I hope he brings a little with him when he's back this week.

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