By now, you’ve probably seen the video above, in which an unofficial Cubs mascot responds to getting unmasked in a bar by punching the offender. I wore the Billy Cub costume for a game last season, and reached out to its creator John Paul Weier for comment this afternoon. He connected me with his brother Patrick, who is the one throwing the punch in the video. In his words, here’s what happened:
"I was inside John Barleycorn, I believe, and I was standing there posing for a picture. About 30 seconds before that video starts, I was standing there taking a picture with a guy and all of a sudden the guy I ended up hitting blindsided me and tried to tackle me from behind. He knocked me and almost knocked me over. I turned, looked at him, and kind of shrugged my shoulders. We had a little stand-down — looking at each other and I was like, “What’s up? What are you doing?” I’m obviously not talking, and everyone at the bar is like, “Kick his ass Billy! Get him Billy!” and we both just kind of stood there. So I just brushed him off, turned around and went to take another picture. That’s when the camera starts, and as I’m posing for the picture, he pulled the head off. I turned to grab the head back, I had my left hand on the head, and he had both hands on it. He wouldn’t let go. I said, “Let go.” And he said, “Fuck you!” And then I swung at him. As soon as I hit him, the bouncers all swarmed the scene. They grabbed him, and started escorting him towards the door. As I was putting my head on to try to walk towards the door, his buddy hit the tip jar out of my hand. The bouncers grabbed him and threw him out as well."
Patrick has worn the Billy Cub costume for the past eight years alongside John, and estimates he’s in the suit for about half of the team’s home games. His account seems to jibe with the description on the YouTube video:
"This guy was out with a bachelor party. He tried to trip the mascot three times and then threw himself into the mascot in an attempt to start a fight. The mascot ignored all of this until he got his head pulled off. After the guy was punched in the face and his friend was thrown to the ground, the guy knocked the mascots tip jar out of his hands. I just happened to be there with my camera."
Some people reach a very aggressive level of intoxication at these weekend Wrigley games. When I wore the costume, there were a decent amount of people who messed with me, albeit less combatively. One guy wanted to pay me 20 bucks to lift me over his shoulder and carry me, and maybe half-a-dozen smacked me in the back of my head and ran away. The costume was already onerous and uncomfortable, and these interactions would make me loopy for a minute or two.
I’m not justifying Patrick’s response, but how much physical abuse does one have to take from a drunkard before he’s deemed allowed to defend himself? This doesn’t make it right, but I can’t honestly say if I would have handled myself any differently.
Nevertheless, John wishes his brother had shown more constraint. The video is everywhere now. Billy Cub already had a tenuous relationship with the Cubs organization, who had MLB lawyers send Weier a cease and desist letter after receiving a complaint that one of Billy Cub’s understudies made a racist comment.
“I’m concerned about the Cubs coming after us for this,” John Paul Weier says. “They’ve been looking for a reason to get rid of us. They’ll take any excuse they can get. What I’ve always told the guys who work for me is don’t swing at anyone unless they swing at you first. That’s where my brother was out of line. We’re trying to avoid those situations at all costs. It could’ve been handled a little bit better on our part.”