While the Arizona Diamondbacks were accepting a new mascot into their family this week, the Chicago Cubs and Major League Baseball have ordered Jon Paul Weier — aka “Billy Cub,” an unauthorized mascot who wanders the sidewalks outside of Wrigley Field greeting fans and taking photos — to cease his “unabated Mascot Activities.”
Yes, the term “unabated Mascots Activities” actually exists and is a part of MLB's regulations. If don't believe that, or you don’t believe that the Cubs and the league are one-hundred percent serious about shutting "Billy Cub" down, perhaps the 100-plus page letter they send to Weier will grab your attention.
I know it got Weier's, even though he was able to calmly brush it off recently.
Citing allegations of trademark infringement, the League sent Weier a 100-plus page letter, ordering him to stop wearing the Billy Cub costume, and engaging in “unabated Mascot Activities.”
After consulting with a lawyer, he ignored it. And the next day, he said he was confronted by a Cubs executive.
“Someone came up to me, very angry, and said, ‘did you not get our letter?’”
Problem was, Weier was in costume and in character at the time. And since Billy doesn’t speak, he says he just stood there, gesturing and shrugging, as the executive in question got angrier
That is, until a father walked up, handed the man his camera, and asked him to take a picture of Billy with his son.
I can only imagine the look on the executive's face when Weier refused to break character or engage him verbally. Then when the fan asked him to snap a photo, that had to be priceless.
Oh, and speaking of monetary value, the fact that Weier carries a tip jar and accepts money from fans to help cover the costs and maintenance — roughly $4,000 a year — of his costume is one of the Cubs big concerns surrounding Billy Cub's presence outside the ballpark. Obviously the team wants that money spent inside the stadium. But according to a team spokesman, it's far from the only concern.
“The Billy Cub characters are not affiliated with the Chicago Cubs,” team spokesman Julian Green said in a statement. “We have received complaints from fans, mistakenly believing ‘Billy Cub’ to be associated with the Cubs.”
Green cited complaints that two years ago, a Billy Cub character swore at a patron and used an ethnic slur, because of an inadequate tip. On another occasion, a Cubs employee claimed to have witnessed a “prolonged verbal altercation” between Billy and another fan, again over the size of a tip.
“This behavior is wholly inconsistent with the enjoyable fan experience we try to create at Wrigley Field,” Green said.
Weier says he's cut ties with the employee who was wearing the costume when those alleged incidents occurred. Still, it makes you wonder why the Cubs didn't send out a stronger warning much sooner, or why they haven't taken legal action to this point if it has proven to be that much of a nuisance.
I imagine that would be the next step if Weier continues to ignore their wishes and parade around in his costume. It would be sad if it had to come to that. Especially for Weier, whose goal has always been to be anointed as the Cubs official mascot.
“I want to be the official mascot of the Chicago Cubs,” Weier says. “And if I can’t be the official mascot, I want to keep doing what I’ve been doing for the last seven years.”
I think the lesson we're all going to learn here is that regardless of intentions, you won't always get what you want in life. Weier tried. The Cubs and the league want no part of it. It might be time to move on or move back to Arizona — where Weier grew up — to see if the Diamondbacks have room for three mascots.
Big BLS H/N: Hardball Talk