The Best American Sports Mascots, Ranked

Today is National Mascot Day, so what better time to examine the bizarro world of American sports mascots? Maybe your hometown or alma mater went with something simple like a Lion or a Bear, but thankfully we’re not all from where you’re from. Sports mascots run the gamut, from anthropomorphic animals to blobs to straight up monsters. Honestly, we don’t know how to classify some of these things. But they bring us and their team’s fans joy by riling up the crowd, performing weird stunts, giving away prizes, and simply looking ridiculous. National Mascot Day is a non-holiday holiday worth acknowledging if only because there are so many ridiculous ones. Surely we missed a few along the way, and we apologize to our furry friends. But for our money, these are the best of the best.

Mr. (& Mrs.) Met (New York Mets)

What on earth is Mr. Met? A human? An animated baseball? Clickhole once described him as a 10,000-year-old baseball monster, which seems fair. He’s one of the more lovable mascots on this list and he’s been around since 1963. That’s a long time caping for a franchise as historically inept as the Mets. Fortunately, the baseball gods took one of his ribs and created Mrs. Met, formerly known as Lady Met, to be his lifelong mascot companion. Okay fine, I made up the part about the baseball gods and the rib. But these two surely have some sort of weird biblical mascot origins. And they seem to have a loving partnership, which we love to see.

Phillie Phanatic (Philadelphia Phillies)

“Phillie” is another word for a resident of Philadelphia, Pa. And “Phanatic” is, well, a giant green mass of fur that likes to stomp on dugouts and smash things. The team describes him as a large flightless bird from the Galapagos Islands, but it’s hard to make that out. The Phanatic is his own being. He’s also a nuisance—one of his favorite hobbies is messing with other teams by riding around on his ATV, doing weird dances, and making a show in front of their dugouts. Just last weekend he dressed up like Frank Sinatra and destroyed a Yankees helmet right in front of the visiting team (see above), much to the delight of Phillies fans. That’s behavior we can all get behind.

Hammy (Rockford IceHogs)

Pig mascots deserve to be celebrated, even if it’s in minor league hockey. As you can see, Hammy is an absolute freak. His smile is wider than a plate of ribs and his general expression makes it look like he’s gonna be having you for dinner, not the other way around. That slightly raised eyebrow is saying so much while Hammy stays silent. This is not your average pig. This is a genuinely frightening hog with skating and stick skills to boot.

Sammy the Slug (UC Santa Cruz)

Yeah, banana slugs are a totally ridiculous mascot, but Sammy makes it work. Maybe it’s those weird antennae or that sweater or that creepy smile. This is probably the best known weird mascot out there, and for good reason. Comedian Hasan Minhaj has had his fun with the mascot (and school) on his Netflix show Patriot Act, but you know what? That only raised ol’ Sammy’s profile here even more. Here’s to a weird American original that absolutely no one else would name their team under any circumstances ever. Salute, Sammy.

Go the Gorilla (Phoenix Suns)

Go is the running not only for best mascot ever, but simplest. It’s literally a man in a gorilla suit. That’s actually the core of his origin story—a diehard Suns fan sent a signing telegram dressed in a gorilla suit to the arena. Security asked him to stick around, and eventually he was invited to become the Suns’ mascot. Talk about an everyman—er, everyape. But once that suit is on, whoever is inside becomes a superhero, performing incredible stunts and dunks get the Phoenix crowd rocking. This is what mascots used to be—people-shaped animals only slightly bigger than whoever’s inside the costume. That kind of simplicity is timeless, and it’s what gets Go on the list.

Big Red (Western Kentucky University)

Amorphous blob mascots are special, but perhaps none more so than Big Red. It’s not even worth trying to figure out what he is. The school’s nickname is the “Hilltoppers” because apparently WKU sits on top of a hill. But that just makes Big Red’s existence that much more mysterious. Whatever he is, we dig it, especially because he can fit basketballs in his mouth.

Gritty (Philadelphia Flyers)

Gritty was a viral sensation from the moment he was introduced. That fiery orange fur, that gaping maw, those manic, wide open eyes—he’s a unique creation of the social media era, and he shows it. Between threatening fellow mascots on Twitter and just generally looking like a lunatic, he’s the kind of mascot you just don’t want to mess with. On the bright side, though, he’s a worker with good politics. Even the biggest Flyer haters can appreciate Gritty, and if they can’t, something about that look in his eye tells us he’s gonna find them. Probably with a sheet cake.