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Saturday January 22nd, 2022 9:17AM

Phanatic is back! Original Phils mascot can stay in Philly

By The Associated Press
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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Fire up the hot dog cannon — the Phillie Phanatic is back in Philadelphia.

Not that the mascot largely -- large as in that green, furry, bulbous belly — ever really went anywhere. But a legal dispute between the Philadelphia Phillies and the mascot's creator forced the team to give baseball's most beloved native of the Galapagos Islands an extreme makeover.

But the Phillies and Harrison/Erickson, the New York company that created the Phanatic, reached a settlement his week that allowed the more familiar version to return in 2022 to Citizens Bank Park.

“We welcome the original Phillie Phanatic back with open arms,” Phillies executive vice president David Buck said Tuesday. “We are so proud of the 44-year history of the Phanatic and what the character means to the organization, to the City of Philadelphia and to Phillies fans everywhere. Our goal throughout this process was to come to an amicable solution that guaranteed the Phanatic could continue to entertain future generations of fans."

In a statement, Bonnie Erickson and Wayde Harrison said: “Ever since we created the Phanatic in 1978, Philadelphia has been his home.”

"We are thrilled to see the original Phanatic back where he should be, in Philadelphia, for the fans of the Phillies,” they said.

The Phillies unveiled the redesign of the green mascot in February 2020, a new look featuring flightless feathers rather than fur-colored arms, stars outlining the eyes, a larger posterior and a powder blue tail, blue socks with red shoes, plus a set of scales under the arms.

The Phillies sued Harrison/Erickson, the New York company that created the Phanatic, in August 2019 in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. The team alleged Harrison/Erickson threatened to terminate the Phillies’ rights to the Phanatic and “make the Phanatic a free agent” unless the team renegotiated its 1984 agreement to acquire the mascot’s rights.

Terms of the settlement were not released.

The Phanatic, who has yet to comment since his debut, did release a statement Tuesday that echoed Michael Jordan's 1990s comeback to the Chicago Bulls.

“ I'm back,” it said.

___

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