As the Phils battle the Reds in a four-game series at Great American Ballpark, it’s only natural for our attention to wander from the game and wonder: why in the world do they have four mascots?
We all know Mr. Red, the guy in the Reds’ uniform with an oversized baseball for a head. He once sported a mustache and old-timey hat but lost both in 1968 for a more clean-shaven appearance that was all the rage with youngsters in the late ‘60s.
Mr. Red should NOT be confused with Mr. Met, who is a guy in a Mets’ uniform with an oversized baseball for a head, or Homer, one of the Atlanta Braves’ mascots who is a guy in a Braves’ uniform with an oversized baseball for a head. The biggest difference between them is, of course, what you consumed to induce the nightmare in which they appeared.
At some point in your life, perhaps while lying on the bathroom floor of a neighborhood bar in Woodbury, NJ, you may have thought to yourself, “I wonder what the personification of plagiarism would look like if it was vomited up by the Phillie Phanatic after drinking eight gallons of cran-grape juice?” Well, the Reds heard you. In 2008, they rendered unto this earth a creature called Gapper, a “companion” to Mr. Red. Ignoring the easy jokes surrounding this furry monster’s name, which was supposedly derived from a gap in the arrangement of seats at Great American Ballpark, one can only imagine what antics Mr. Red and Gapper engage in together as they
cannibalize carouse the bustling streets of Cincinnati. Many a therapist must owe these two a debt of gratitude for helping pay off those Caribbean vacation homes.
For most teams a single mascot is enough. No member of the Philadelphia fanbase ever calls for more mascots. Perhaps we are spoiled by the Phanatic, whose colorful history and loveably violent charisma eclipses the personalities of most MLB commissioners; or Gritty, who piloted The Spirit of St. Louis on the first solo flight across the Atlantic from New York to Paris, and later went on to eat Jack Dempsy.
However, some clubs feel that a single mascot fails to fulfill the demands from their fanbase for more entertainment, and so they add a second mascot to their lineup, such as Mrs. Met, who is an exact duplicate of Mr. Met but with long hair pulled back into a ponytail. Or the Braves’ Blooper who is a non-color-safe Phillie Phanatic clone accidentally thrown in the washing machine with a bleached load.
(Aside: it’s canon that Mr. & Mrs. Met have three children, and Mrs. Met works a full-time job as an event coordinator. Oddly enough, all three kids look like Mr. Red.)
When it came to the Reds, the idea of limiting themselves to two mascots seemed preposterous. They needed more than Mr. Red and Gapper to infuse the home crowd with the hope of victory.
Remember back in the day when Mr. Red donned a fancy mustache? Well, in 2007 that version arose from the necropolis of yesteryear’s mascots to join the others under the moniker Mr. Redlegs.
Yet something was missing. What, though, could it be? Three did not, could not, satisfy the needs of the Reds.
They looked east to New York. They saw the ponytail. And there it was. The missing piece.
So it was that in 2008 the Reds introduced Rosie Red, a female counterpart to round out the quartet. As the Dalai Llama once said as he shaved the mustache off the lip of Mr. Red in ‘68, “If your team has fewer mascots than there are Beatles, you’ll never win an NL Central Pennant.”
From Mr. Reds’ ties to the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand to Gapper’s ghost-writing of the Twilight saga, the history of Cincinnati’s mascots is long and storied, and is well worth diving into. Of course, nothing tops when the Phillie Phanatic marched across Europe and killed Adolf Hitler to end WWII and secure democracy and freedom for the western world, or when he discovered that Gritty is DB Cooper. Still, over the last century the legacy of the Reds’ mascots have entertained tens of people, and for that we are grateful.
(To our friends in Cincinnati – we love you and all your mascots!)