A team’s mascot can play a very important role in sports. A good mascot can fire up the crowd, provide entertainment during stoppages in play, appeal to the younger audience, provide the team with a fun personality and occasionally even get under the opposing team's skin through their antics and pranks. Mascots such as Chicago’s Benny the Bull achieve this and he has become an important part of the franchise and provides fans with a character which embodies the team, but not all teams have a mascot that is beneficial. There have been some truly bizarre mascots over the years, which can often have the adverse effect for a team and leave you wondering who on earth came up with and designed these characters.
Although they can be seen in other sports around the world, it is primarily in the USA where mascots are used so heavily and play such an important role in games. This is largely due to the fact that many of the major sports have frequent stoppages in play, so to keep the crowd entertained and fired up they have a mascot to fill these stoppages. They are also particularly prominent in college sports, with plenty of strange and bizarre characters over the years that have entertained, inspired, confused and even scared crowds with their costume design and what they get up to during the games.
There are dozens of fantastic mascots in US sports that are an important part of the franchise and provide the team with personality, but for every great mascot there is also a whole group of terrible mascots that cause more embarrassment, and sometimes even fear, for fans than entertainment. Some of these are brilliant because they are so bad, some wouldn’t look out of place in a horror film, whilst some are just plain awful.
Here are the worst mascots in U.S Sports
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10 Purdue Pete (Purdue Boilmakers)
The problem with Purdue Pete is the fact that they opted for a plastic face instead of fur like most mascots, and the result is a mascot which is genuinely terrifying. He also has huge, soulless eyes which don’t give him the fun and friendly persona which most mascots possess. On top of being the sort of character you would find in a nightmare, Pete also carries around a giant hammer as a weapon of choice. Be sure not to look into his eyes for too long or he may devour your soul.
9 Willie the Wildcat (Kansas State)
Kansas State must have spent all the money on the head for Willie the Wildcat, which essentially makes this mascot a person wearing an oversized cat head. This makes him incredibly top heavy and out of proportion, which only adds to his strange appearance. It is hard to fire up the crowd when so little effort was put into the mascot costume and the mascot is quite clearly more human than anything else, which takes away from the idea of a mascot being a character that represents the team and gives them an identity. Imagine how sore the poor person's neck must be after donning that head.
8 Blue Blob (Xavier University)
Their hearts were clearly not in it when they came up with this creation, as this mascot is nothing more than, well, a blue blob. The Blue Blob looks like a cheap version of the Cookie Monster, but it also has haunting eyes which are likely to terrify any child that it approaches. Being just a blue blob, it also has no connection to Xavier, who already had a perfectly good mascot in the Musketeer before the Blue Blob came along to provide more entertainment. The Blue Blob has an enemy in Big Red (a big red blob), Western Kentucky's mascot, who took down the Xavier mascot when the teams faced off.
7 Pierre the Pelican (New Orleans Pelicans)
Pierre the Pelican was originally such a terrifying design that the Pelicans had to make drastic changes to make him less nightmarish after scaring young fans at games. In fairness to the Pelicans, they handled the situation well and claimed that Pierre had to undergo surgery after breaking his beak in a mascot pick-up game. He was given a complete makeover and now is a much friendlier looking mascot and one which won’t be giving kids nightmares. ‘Pre-op’ Pierre however wouldn’t have been out of place in a horror film, and had a face that was a little too menacing for a mascot. Unfortunately this wouldn’t be the only mascot blunder from the Pelicans.
6 Dandy (New York Yankees)
The Yankees are a franchise all about pride and also one of the most successful and popular sports teams around the world. They have a lot to take great pride in, but Dandy is a name that most will either have forgotten or wish they had forgotten. Inspired by the success of the Phillie Phanatic (who generates an enormous amount of money), the Yankees had Dandy designed in 1979 by the creator of Miss Piggy and other Muppets.
Dandy did not have anywhere near the same appeal, with his strange pear shape, ginger moustache and sideways cap never being embraced by fans. Dandy was eventually barred from the field and banished to the upper deck of Yankee Stadium. Aside from his strange appearance, a mascot was not right for a team like the Yankees and Dandy would soon be thrown in the trash.
5 WuShock (Wichita State University)
What is that thing? Is the natural reaction many people have when they first see WuShock, who is a shock of wheat. You would think that someone dressed up as a bundle of wheat wouldn’t be very intimidating, but there is definitely something a little bit creepy about WuShock who has a slightly menacing look on his face. The story behind this strange creation is that back in 1904 the university’s football coach needed a name for the team, and he went with the “Shockers” because so many of the players earned their money by harvesting/shocking wheat. WuShock was soon designed and is described by the university as “a big, bad, muscle-bound bundle of wheat”.
4 Sammy the Slug (UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs)
A slug is not going to put up much of a fight or inspire fans and players, which is what makes Sammy the Slug such a bizarre choice for a team mascot. As you can imagine, it was the students of the University of California at Santa Cruz that pushed for the banana slug mascot when it was time to choose, and the much loved mascot even became popular with the Chancellor. Sammy is one example of a mascot that is so bad that it has simultaneously become a fantastic mascot, and he is popular around the world due to his subversive nature. Certainly an original creation, teams must be shaking in their boots any time the Banana Slugs are (slowly) rolling into town.
3 Crazy Crab (San Francisco Giants)
This poor crab was the victim of much abuse during his short time as the Giants mascot in 1984, and it certainly didn’t help that they slumped to a 66-96 record that year. You would not want this strange creation chasing after you, who also strangely resembles a walking hamburger. Crazy Crab was supposed to be an “anti-mascot” and one that poked fun at all the other clownish mascots at the time, but the hatred went a bit far with the Giants having such a shocking season. Crazy Crab would be pelted by the crowd, verbally abused and the players even got in on the act too. Although an anti-mascot, the hatred for Crazy Crab was very real and his strange design make him one of the worst mascots of all time.
2 King Cake Baby (New Orleans Pelicans)
I’m not sure that the New Orleans Pelicans have fully grasped what the role of a mascot is, as they now have two creations which will give every man, woman and child nightmares when they come to the Smoothie King Centre. Disturbing and creepy to say the least, King Cake Baby looks like an 8-foot possessed infant in a diaper and bib, and the fact that the diaper looks like it could fall off at any given moment only adds to the fear this mascot brings. Good luck sleeping after encountering the towering, demonic King Cake Baby.
1 The Stanford Tree (Stanford Cardinal)
The Stanford Cardinal could've been anything, as the nickname is just after the cardinal color. So, did they really have to make their mascot a tree? They have opted for the Stanford Tree, and how you expect a tree to fire up a crowd is beyond me. The Tree was introduced by the Stanford Band in 1975 and has remained an unofficial mascot, but it has become famous around the world for its obscurity. The tree is modeled after El Palo Alto, a redwood tree in the Palo Alto region that appears in the Stanford logo. It has a different design each year, but it has always remained bizarre to see a tree with big eyes and a big grin running around trying to pump up the crowd without having any arms. Its most recent incarnation as a palm tree may be the worst of them all.
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