San Diego Chicken laid way for mascots
Tuesday, March 29, 2005
John Petkovic Plain Dealer Reporter
When Ted Giannoulas started flapping his wings, he had no idea he was hatching a
"I was making $3.30 a game," says Giannoulas. "It was the depression era for
mascots." Call it B.C. - Before the Chicken.
By the late 1970s, though, Giannoulas - or, his alter-ego, the San Diego Chicken -
became a phenomenon. His "chickenshtick" not only helped Padres fans cope with a
horrendous team; it also became a wacky attraction across the country. He
performed in ballparks and arenas, on TV, even at the White House.
The yoke was cast off and the modern mascot was born. "I remember performing
in Cleveland in September 1980, when the Indians were awful and playing at that
old stadium," says Giannoulas, 51. "I drew 28,000; most for an Indians game that
late in the season since 1959."
The soaring flight of the Chicken inspired a menagerie of guys in animal suits -
dogs, bears, wildcats. At this point, you'd be hard-pressed to find a pro sports
team without one. "Tickets have gone up so much that teams have to provide more
entertainment," says Giannoulas. "Mascots are as much a part of the package as
the game itself."
They've also become stars of the animal kingdom, though the people in the suit
rarely get the attention that Giannoulas does. Overwelmingly, they aren't allowed
to speak or reveal their names.