Phillies to Unveil Changes to the Phillie Phanatic

William Pitts
The famous Phillie Phanatic.
The famous Phillie Phanatic. / Rich Schultz/Getty Images

In the same vein as pop idols and cartoon hedgehogs, one of sports' most famous mascots may receive an extreme makeover.

According to NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jim Salisbury, the Philadelphia Phillies will unveil changes to their beloved mascot, the Phillie Phanatic, at the team's spring training opener at Spectrum Field in Clearwater against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday.

The changes are coming not simply for change's sake, but due to red tape.

The Phillies purchased the rights to the Phanatic character from its creators, Bonnie Erickson, and Wade Harrison, in 1984. However, copyright law allows artists to renegotiate their rights every 35 years, and both Erickson and Harrison are demanding the rights to the Phanatic back unless the Phillies pay them millions in royalties.

The team filed a lawsuit last year in New York federal court, contending that their investment and promotion over the past 35 years made the Phanatic legally their own in perpetuity. Their rights to the character expire June 15th.

Whatever happens to the old Phanatic, we'll always this clip of Tommy Lasorda whaling on him (at least we assume it's a male) in 1988.