30 Teams, 30 Posts (2016): The Tale of Dandy, the Short-Lived Yankees Mascot

In 30 Teams, 30 Posts, I write a post (of varying amounts of seriousness) about every MLB team in some way in the lead-up to the beginning of the 2016 season. Earlier installments can be found here. Today, I speak of Dandy, the short-lived Yankees mascot.

Every team in MLB has a mascot, with three exceptions: the Angels (although they do have the Rally Monkey), the Dodgers… and the Yankees.

But, believe it or not, the Yankees did indeed have a mascot at one point! His name was Dandy, and he looked like this:

dandyCreated by Bonnie Erickson (who also designed Miss Piggy) and her husband and creative partner Wayde Harrison (together, they created the Phillie Phanatic, Youppi!, and other famed mascots), Dandy came to be in an attempt for the Yankees to replicate Phanatic Phever. With the Erickson/Harrison pedigree, a friendly and huggable shape, and a epic mustache, Dandy seemed destined for success. Even George Steinbrenner seemed interested in him, haggling with Erickson and Harrison to make sure that the color of Dandy’s pinstripes were the right shade.

And Dandy may have gotten away with it too, if not for that meddling Chicken. Two weeks before Dandy was to debut in 1979, Lou Piniella took umbrage at the San Diego Chicken (on loan to the Mariners) putting a hex on Ron Guidry and threw his mitt at him. After this incident, Steinbrenner declared that mascots had no place in baseball.

Still, a deal was a deal, so Dandy went into action- in a greatly reduced capacity. His opening debut, which would have involved a pre-set routine and theme music, was scrapped, never to be seen. The Yankees did everything in their power to make him as unimportant as possible, even saying in their team guide that he was just there to amuse the kiddies and stay as far away from the action as possible. True to their word, he was confined up in the cheap-seats.

To make matters worse, for a time Dandy was banned from the stadium outright because his mustache called to mind Thurman Munson, who died in a tragic plane crash.

So, perhaps it isn’t surprising that the few years that Dandy existed were ones of obscurity. As early as the 1990s, people who worked for the Yankees claimed that there never even was a mascot. At one point, during a rare public appearance, Dandy was attacked by a group of drunk bankers, causing the guy inside of the costume- somebody named Rick Ford- to hold it for ransom.

Amazingly, though, it wasn’t the Yankees who cancelled Dandy. It was Erickson and Harrison, who hated how marginalized their creation was. They took him and went home when his lease was up, despite the fact the Yankees were interested in renewing it. To this day, they still own the rights and design, so if you are an eclectic millionaire looking to have a obscure mascot at your next birthday party… give them a call.

Sources:

“Mascots R Them” by Erin St. John Kelly

“Not so Fine and Dandy: The History of The Yankees Mascot” by Josh Eisenberg

“The Short, Sad History Of The Yankees 1980s Mascot, Dandy” by Jen Carlson

“Yankees’ Long-Forgotten Mascot” by Scott Cacciola

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(Blogathon ’16) Jason Cohen: Reminiscing about Chien-Ming Wang and What Could Have Been

This guest-post is part of the 2016 Baseball Continuum Blogathon For Charity, benefiting the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. The Roswell Park Alliance Foundation is the charitable arm of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and funds raised will be “put to immediate use to increase the pace from research trials into improved clinical care, to ensure state-of-the-art facilities, and to help improve the quality of life for patients and their families.” Please donate through the Blogathon’s GoFundMe page. Also, please note that the opinions and statements of the writer are not necessarily those of the Baseball Continuum or it’s webmaster.

Former Yankees pitcher Chien-Ming Wang signed a minor league deal with the Royals, making that the eighth organization (ninth if you count a short stint in indy ball) the right-hander has been a part of since returning to pitching in 2011. After tearing his shoulder capsule during the 2009 season, Wang missed all of 2010 to recover and the Washington Nationals picked him up in hopes of getting the pitcher he once was for such a short amount of time. He last pitched in the big leagues during the 2013 season for the Toronto Blue Jays and it was a disaster, but it wasn’t always that way.

Signed as an amateur free agent by the Yankees in 2000, he made his professional debut at the age of 20. After missing the 2001 season to injury, it took him another four seasons to reach the majors. He wasn’t expected to be a star, but somehow he managed to turn into one, albeit not a very famous one. In 2005, he managed to pitch at an above-average level while the rotation fell apart around him. That year, Carl Pavano, Jared Wright, Kevin Brown, all broke down during the course of the season. Wang was hurt too, but he returned late in the second half and was even able to pitch in a playoff game. His first year was solid, but maybe not much to remember.

What followed, though, were probably two of the most important seasons for the Yankees in that decade. Between 2006 and 2007, Wang pitched to a 3.67 ERA and a 3.85 FIP over 417.1 innings, averaging somewhere between six and seven innings per start–something the current Yankees would love to dream on. He led the league with 19 wins in 2006, was the runner-up in the Cy Young vote to Johan Santana, and placed 24th in the AL MVP vote. His numbers weren’t the most dominating–a 3.9 K/9 rate over that time would attest to that–but his power sinker made him a real threat to hitters with a ground ball rate over 60%.

Some of his best games in 2006 include his two-hit, two-walk, complete game shutout of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. There was also a game where he produced a total of 20 ground balls outs in a single game against the Atlanta Braves. He even struck out 10 batters in 2007 on his way to complete game while allowing just two runs against the New York Mets. It seemed like he was always going into the seventh, eighth, or ninth inning with less than 100 pitches. Everyone was so focused on the strikeout that they never realized that contact could be such an effective means to utterly dominate your opponent. It’s a pity he had the literal worst defense in baseball playing behind him from 2005-2007, because who knows what things would have been like if they had even a league-average group then.

He ended up being worth 7.5 WAR over those two years, ranking right next to Mussina and Andy Pettitte during that period. He was top-20 in innings pitched, ranked third in ground ball percentage behind only Derek Lowe and Brandon Webb, and his 2.40 BB/9 was just outside of top 20 in baseball at the time. Wang was never the best, but when the Yankees needed him most, he was at least one of them. At a time when the Yankees were paying Carl Pavano not to pitch and had a disappointing two years with Randy Johnson, Wang filled in at the league minimum. He was invaluable.

The most exciting thing about it was that he arrived on the brink of a new day. He came up at a time where the Yankees were still filled with bloated contracts for underperforming veterans and his presence was a breath of fresh air. He made his debut just as Robinson Cano was entering the league and Melky Cabrera was getting a chance. Joe Torre was finally on his way out after a decade in the dugout. Pretty soon there would be Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain, and though we have the benefit of hindsight to know how terrible that all worked out in the end, Wang was there before it was cool to be young and he was great.

Unfortunately not everything worked out as expected. As much promise as the 2007 season brought, 2008 proved to be the cruel reality check that none of us wanted. Hughes and Joba got hurt, and Wang, while rounding the bases in Houston, tore a ligament in his foot and a muscle in his leg to end his season in June. All these injuries and disappointing seasons likely led the Yankees to go heavy on that year’s free agent class, coming away with CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett to nail down their weakened and underperforming rotation. Many believe that Wang’s injury threw him off and he struggled in his return during the 2009 season before ultimately tearing his shoulder capsule and destroying the Wang we all knew.

I’ve written about Wang before, I even asked him to retire and put an end to the ghost that he has become because it was just too painful to watch. He’s a member of the Pinstripe Alley Top 100 Yankees and he has a legacy in the Bronx that won’t go away with time. It’s just incredibly weird to think that you’ve peaked doing your life’s work before the age of 30 and it’s not really anyone’s fault. You can’t even say he just didn’t work out–he got hurt. Situations like this ruin–even end–people’s lives. I’m a few years away from 30 and would like to think that I haven’t come close to my peak, but if I knew it had already come and gone, I have no idea how I’d be able to keep doing what I was doing.

Then you look at what Wang has been doing and maybe it isn’t sad to see a 35-year-old man–already gone from the man he once was–continue to plug along. He made it once, he could make it again, but even if he doesn’t maybe there is something to look at, maybe even emulate, in Wang’s determination to do the only thing he very well might be good at. There’s no shame in that and if he pitches another 10 years, even if it’s at the Triple-A level, we should all be so lucky. In the meantime, I’ll remember who Wang was, but never ignore who he has become.

Jason Cohen is an editor at SB Nation’s Pinstripe Alley where he holds the world record for most articles written and it isn’t even close. He is an unapologetic Yankees fan who loves bat flips, calling people out when they say something offensive, and isn’t quite comfortable talking about himself in the third person. You can normally see his writing at Pinstripealley.com and his tweets at @Jason00Cohen.

This guest-post has been part of the 2016 Baseball Continuum Blogathon For Charity, benefiting the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. The Roswell Park Alliance Foundation is the charitable arm of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and funds raised will be “put to immediate use to increase the pace from research trials into improved clinical care, to ensure state-of-the-art facilities, and to help improve the quality of life for patients and their families.” Please donate through the Blogathon’s GoFundMe page. Also, please note that the opinions and statements of the writer were not necessarily those of the Baseball Continuum or it’s webmaster.

Bizarre Baseball Culture: Marvel’s Menagerie of Yankee Stadium appearances

In Bizarre Baseball Culture, I take a look at some of the more unusual places where baseball has reared it’s head in pop culture and fiction.

Sometimes, baseball plays a role in a piece of fiction, but not really a big enough one where I can do a full piece on it. Take Marvel, for example. The fact that 95% of their heroes are in New York City means that there are plenty of stories where heroes or villains visit Yankee Stadium but where their visit isn’t long enough or baseball-focused enough to really justify giving them the full Bizarre Baseball Culture treatment.

So, this time, I’m killing many birds with one stone and showcasing some of Yankee Stadium’s appearances in Marvel comics. Go below the jump to see some of them:

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30 Teams, 30 Posts (2015): Alex Rodriguez’s arrival at Yankees camp, in the minds of some people (SATIRE)

In 30 Teams, 30 Posts, I write a post about every MLB team in some way in the lead-up to the beginning of the 2015 season. Today, I talk about Alex Rodriguez and the Yankees by showing you an alternate world where Alex Rodriguez’s arrival at Yankee camp was as horrific as some people thought it would be or make it out to be:

We all feared this day would come. We told ourselves it was just a bad dream, a prophecy that would never be fulfilled.

But, alas, that bleak day happened. Alex Rodriguez, baseball’s greatest monster, arrived at Yankee Spring Training on Monday, coming days early by way of an ominous Zeppelin of Doom, powered by the tears of orphans and the death-cries of starved kittens.

After all, that is what Alex Rodriguez is all about. Himself. Some would move with the flow, be one with the team. But not Alex Rodriguez. Everything about him is looking out for number one. And yet, he is one of the ones who he has failed, right alongside his family, his team, his sport, America, and, indeed, all of mankind.

And, yet, he doesn’t even seem to know what, exactly, he has done wrong. Not today, not yesterday, not ever.

“Some of the mistakes.”

“Would not elaborate on what they were.”

Oh, and he said that while drinking the blood of a hapless victim. But that’s now important: he wouldn’t elaborate.

How could you not elaborate, Alex? Perhaps it is because of all of them. After all, your many crimes may include some of the following:

  • Lying
  • Getting caught with steroids
  • Using steroids in the first place
  • Kidnapping a young damsel and tying her to train tracks
  • Assassinating Archduke Franz Ferdinand and indirectly starting World War One
  • The ending of Man of Steel
  • Misplacing Thurman Thomas’ helmet in Super Bowl XXVI
  • Slapping at Bronson Arroyo’s glove
  • Tricking Howie Clark
  • Global Warming
  • Selling the rights to the X-Men and Fantastic Four to FOX Studios, thus depriving the world of seeing The Hulk fight The Thing and Wolverine hanging out with Captain America during WWII.
  • The Union’s defeat at Bull Run
  • The throwing of the 1919 World Series
  • The Lego Movie not being nominated for Best Animated Feature
  • The demise of MVP Baseball
  • Ken Griffey Jr.’s injuries
  • The episode of Lost about Jack’s tattoo
  • The disappearance of Flight 19
  • Centaurs

That’s a lot of potential things you could have possibly done, and the fact that most of them you had nothing to do with has nothing to do with that, A-Rod. You are a disgrace, a fraud, and a poo-poo head. Please go away.

In reality, of course, nothing interesting happened and amazingly nobody went quite this over-the-top with their blistering hot-take thinkpieces. Although we did get this picture of  journalists trying to catch a peek of his workout from a distance:

Bizarre Baseball Culture: Cal Ripken orders the 2001 Yankees to Save The World

In Bizarre Baseball Culture, I take a look at some of the more unusual places where baseball has reared it’s head in pop culture and fiction.

Wolverine of the X-Men has a habit of appearing in comics he technically isn’t supposed to be in, simply because he’s popular. Well, Cal Ripken is the Wolverine of Baseball Comic Books.  He’s joined forces with Batman, led the Shortstop Squad, and been the subject of a bio-comic. Also, like Wolverine, Cal Ripken seemed to be able to recover from any injury, no matter how severe. But, it’s the first similarity that I’m focusing on, because, in the comic I will be looking at today, Cal Ripken appears in a story about the 2001 New York Yankees being Superheroes.

Let that sink in. The New York Yankees, in a comic that they themselves ordered and gave away, still had Cal Ripken in their comic and had him on the cover too.

YanksCalCover

Entitled “Championship Challenge” and given out September 28, 2001, it stars, as you can see, four of the greatest stars the Yankees had that season. Mariano Rivera! Tino Martinez! Jorge Posada! And, of course, the Once and Future Captain, Derek Jeter himself. But, of course, we also see Cal RIpken on the cover, letting everybody know that the Iron Man will be there! With such Ultimate Sports Force stalwarts as Rick Licht writing and Brian Kong doing the art, this was partially made as part of the Ripken farewell celebration, and it becomes even more obvious when you realize that originally Ripken’s final series would have been at Yankee Stadium if not for the schedule reshuffling that MLB did after the 9/11 attacks.

Anyway, go below the jump to read about the story:

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The Best Derek Jeter Content of the Baseball Continuum

Derek Jeter is retiring, in case you haven’t heard 2222222222 times already. So, to honor the Yankee Captain and perhaps get some extra hits, here is my best Derek Jeter content:

But, that isn’t it! Because later this week, I bring you a Bizarre Baseball Culture that features Jeter! Get psyched!