author: brady lang | sports writer
Rain or shine, here come the idiots in suits
You either love them or hate them, but let’s be real here, mascots are a part of professional sport.
Modern mascots that we see today are a lot different from what they derived from. The first team mascot was the Chicago Cubs “cub” mascot, first seen in 1908, which was a taxidermist cub. They changed to an actual animal in 1916; dare we say, curse?
Some mascots are creepy, others hilarious, but this week I’m going to count down the top five professional sports mascots (sorry, Rampage).
- The Raptor, Toronto Raptors
A freakin’ Raptor doin’ flips and shit. Who could ask for more? The Raptor has been entertaining fans in Toronto since the club was founded in 1993. Basketball mascots have to be the most athletic of mascots, entertaining the fans with dunking and more athletic stunts than hockey or football. The Raptor sure is something to watch while taking in games at the ACC.
- Wild Wing, the Anaheim Ducks
Honestly, the easiest mascot to market, deriving from the Anaheim Mighty Ducks (or the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, if you’d prefer). Wild Wing is a ballsy you-know-what. He descends from the ceiling every pregame, does risky stunts, and actually caught fire once! Wild Wing was originally featured in animated form as Flashblade before the Mighty Ducks brought him to life.
- Youppi!, Montreal Canadiens (and formerly the Montreal Expos)
Youppi has got some real history in Montreal. Beginning with the Expos, Youppi entertained fans of all ages in Montreal, and fans basically grew up with him. Once the Expos disbanded, however, Youppi was out of work. In 2004, the Habs signed Youppi on as the team’s first mascot in their storied history, so Youppi gets the nod at number three.
- Gainer the Gopher, the Saskatchewan Roughriders
“Hailing from Parkbeg, Saskatchewan, the league’s number one mascot, here’s Gainer!” Shocking, right? I picked Gainer at number two on the countdown, but how couldn’t I? Just like Youppi, Saskatchewanians have grown up with Gainer. In 1977, Gainer first took the field, making this his thirty-ninth season. It’ll be interesting to see Gainer in the new stadium, but it won’t take a long time to get used to going into year 40.
- Harvey the Hound, Calgary Flames
Coming in at number one, Harvey the Hound scoops up the final spot on the countdown. Harvey was the NHL’s first mascot ever, debuting in 1983. Harvey can constantly been seen patrolling the outside of the rink at the Saddledome in Calgary, and has been a staple of the Flames for many young fans in Calgary. Harvey’s popularity skyrocketed in 2003 when Craig MacTavish ripped the tongue out of Harvey’s mouth after the Flames went up big in a game, tossing his tongue back into the crowd.
There you have it! The five best mascots in professional sports. Everyone’s list will differ, but the collection of Harvey, Gainer, Wildwing, Youppi and the Raptor will be tough to beat!