Many ballparks market by honoring part of a team's heritage.
Big leaguers at San Francisco's AT&T Park can aim for kayakers in the waters of McCovey Cove.
Johnny Pesky's pole will tell you if it's "fair or foul" at Fenway Park in Boston.
Baltimore's Boog Powell will help widen your waistline by preparing you a barbecue sandwich in Camden Yards.
It was with that sense of discovery that I shoved off for a recent trip to the Eastern Seaboard that was to include a few visits to major league parks. Before I cut and ran, I had an IM conversation with Stew Guru Kevin Kaduk that went something like this.
(Note: Some of the specific Internet language and emoticons might be misremembered):
'Duk: after u get back from Philly, u should do a post 'bout the Phanatic store
'Dave: The Phanatic what?
'Duk: The Phanatic has a store. its somewhere inside citizen's bank pk. U should do a post!
'Dave: The Phanatic DOES NOT have his own store.
'Duk: yup. b sure 2get pitchers. OMG. LOL. ROFL. ;-P
'Dave: ur high
The Phanatic has his own store? The sellout! But of course I had to see it.
And buy something of course.
Eclipsed in popularity at one time only by the now semi-retired San Diego Chicken, the Philly Phanatic (AKA, arch enemy of Tommy Lasorda) has been a preeminent mascot in team sports since its birth in 1978. His Her Its bio states that the Phanatic hails from somewhere in the "Galapagos Islands" and enjoys dressing as your grandmother on her way to church while driving an ATV.
Standing about 6-foot-6, overweight but athletic, furry and looking in the face something like an aardvark, the Phanatic simply cannot be missed at a Phillies game. But can you miss the Phanatic Attic at Citizens Bank Park?
With a clear sub-mission in mind, Ms. Answer Man and I took a walk around Citizens Bank Park in the late innings of our recent visit there. First off, it's one of the cooler parks I've been to. Not quite as nice to look at as PNC, but it's built in the middle of several parking lots/industrial parks in the northern New Jersey part of South Philly, so the landscape isn't much help. But it gets the job done much better than the Vet must have.
I asked a clerk in a team store where "The Phanatic's shop was," with a look on my face that added, "Someone was pulling my leg when they told me the Phanatic has his own store, and I know that someone was pulling my leg, but I'm asking anyway."
"You mean the Phanatic Attic," she said, adding some directions that included turning left at the Richie Ashburn statue.
The Phanatic Attic. There it was, atop some stairs inside the big store. Maybe it should be called the "Phanatic's Closet" based on some of Its outfits. Regardless, the Phanatic indeed owns its own shop. It's upstairs (attic, get it?) in the Phillies main team store. There, you can buy:
• Phanatic cel and PDA holders
• Phanatic socks, clothes, bats, caps
• Phanatic stuffed animals, including some wearing a lovely print dress (there's also a Build-a-Bear workshop elsewhere in the park where you can build your own Phanatic (wearing the latest from Paris, if you prefer)
• Phanatics children's books with stories about Christmas and moving. (Because, when your 7-year-old faces the trauma of moving to a new neighborhood, who better to console him/her than the furious and furriest mascot of the Fightins'?)
Getting past the whole "the mascot has a store/where are we going with Western Civilization?" thing, the Phanatic Attic was not a disappointment. You could buy overpriced mascot dolls in drag. You could have your photo taken with a life-size Phanatic porcelain replica, or sit on the Phanatic's ATV. The only thing — it did not appear to be for sale. At least something remains sacred!
P.S. — I went with the bobblehead.