He is a bear named Clark who wears his cap backward. That's the look of the first Chicago Cubs mascot since the team brought a live bear at Wrigley Field starting in 1916 for a number of seasons.
The Cubs had been one of the four Major League Baseball teams holding out and going without a mascot. Now, all that's left is the New York Yankees, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Los Angeles Angels — although some consider the Rally Monkey to be a mascot, he only appears (usually) on video. And the Yankees have attempted to employ mascots, but the experiments didn't last.
When visiting Wrigley Field, fans could always spot people in bear suits and Cubs jerseys on the streets acting like mascots, but they were often selling beer or other products. And then there's Ronnie "Woo-Woo!" Wickers, a human superfan ambassador — extremely unofficial — who has hitched himself to the team from time to time the past 30 years or so.
This move is all Cubs, who say they're creating Clark with fan feedback in mind. Regardless, it's bound to upset "purists" who don't like change — especially curmudgeons who dislike the backward cap. On the plus side, Clark already has brought many snide comments about losing seasons, along with some eye-rolling puns, like this one:
— Derek Montilla (@Cap_Kaveman) January 13, 2014
So, Clark Grizzwold is already paying dividends, if you like puns (and "National Lampoon's Vacation" references). Will the bear pay off with goodwill? Here's what the team has in mind, via Carrie Muskat of MLB.com:
The Cubs say the mascot will not be on top of the dugout between innings, tossing T-shirts or hot dogs into the stands, and it won't disrupt the game. Instead, Clark will greet fans as they enter Wrigley Field, and also stop by the ballpark's "First Timers Booth" to welcome new guests. On family Sundays, the mascot will help kids run the bases after the game.
Most of the time, Clark will welcome fans to his own clubhouse at Wrigley Field, where families can visit. Fans also will be able to interact with Clark on Twitter and Facebook.
And, just like another mascot — T.C. Bear of the Twins — Clark does not wear pants. The Cubs new mascot takes his form from another organizational bear:
That's Cubbie — the mascot from the Cubs' Class A team at Daytona Beach in the Florida State League, which plays at Jackie Robinson Field. It appears the Cubs have called up their new bear from the minors.
Rather than coming up with their own, they should just have rented out a Zooperstar for every homestand. Sometimes they get Nomar Garciaparrot, sometimes a Cow Ripken Jr. Maybe even an appearance by Clammy Sosa would have melted the ice between Cubs and ex-superstar.
But it is brave new world for the Cubs, joining the legions of teams with mascots. Good luck to them, and to Clark Grizzwold.
Update: In the full illustration, it's easier to see that Clark is not wearing pants:
— Chris De Luca (@ChrisDeLuca) January 13, 2014
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