A PIX11 digital doc: The short, strange saga of Dandy, the forgotten Yankees’ mascot

Team mascots in Major League Baseball have become a common part of the game, with lovable characters like Mr. Met, the Phillie Phanatic and the San Diego Chicken.

In fact, the Dodgers, the Angels and the Yankees are the only three MLB teams that don’t currently have one.   But the Yankees did, even though they'll never admit it.

This is the curious saga of Dandy.

***

In 1979, Bonnie Erickson and Wayde Harrison, the team behind the very popular Phillie Phanatic, created an original mascot for the Yankees.  With the design approved by team owner George Steinbrenner, they went ahead and produced the costume. A contest was initiated to name the new character and the name Dandy was chosen.  A young actor named Rick Ford, a recent graduate of Ithaca College, was chosen to bring the new mascot to life.

On June 29, 1979, while the team was out of town, Ford had his first opportunity to get on the field and try out the costume.  The stadium was mostly empty, but Reggie Jackson and Goose Gossage were there because they were on the disabled list.  They took one look at the mascot and they both broke out in laughter. Reggie even said he bore a resemblance to Yankee catcher Thurman Munson.

Two weeks later, while the Yankees were in Seattle playing the Mariners, an incident with the San Diego Chicken would alter Dandy’s future.  Ted Giannoulas, the man inside the Chicken, was in town to test out a new outfit. On his way to the Kingdome he ran into Yankee pitcher Ron Guidry and the two of them make plans to do something during the game, unbeknownst to the rest of the team.

Minutes before the Chicken planned to come out, Yankee outfielder Lou Piniella had struck out, and was in no mood for the Chicken’s antics when the mascot arrived on the field. He started yelling and threw his glove, and saying, “He should do his routine somewhere else."

Soon after that game, Steinbrenner declared that mascots should not be allowed on the field.  So, Dandy was relegated to the upper deck and never got his official debut.

A few weeks later, Munson, the player to which Dandy had been compared, died in a tragic plane crash. It was the beginning and the end for the Yankee mascot.

He lasted for two more seasons before the design team, who had leased him to the Yankees, decided it was time to pull the plug.

Interestingly, Yankee officials will not even confirm the existence of Dandy.

It's like the poor guy never existed.

Produced by Larry Rochman

 

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