A championship mascot undergoes his own version of spring training at this time of year, says Burgoyne, in his dressing room under Citizens Bank Park. The greatest challenge is to keep the character current. So these days, he surfs the Web and combs YouTube, trolling for that perfect new tune or strut, that great dance troupe to bring into the stadium. He quizzes his sons – ages 12, 10, and 5 – at the dinner table about the latest schoolyard favorites: Who sings that? What are the words? How does that move go? He wants to work a little hip-hop, maybe, into an act that's largely pop, classic rock, and Motown.
Though there are baseball purists who find the antics unbecoming the game, (indeed, former Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda admits having "body slammed" an early Phanatic incarnation to the turf), most of what the Phanatic does is familiar and beloved stuff. A cross between Daffy Duck and Charlie Chaplin, he spit-shines the bald pate of an embarrassed fan. He accidentally spills a lady's popcorn and then, when it's replaced, spills it again. He razzes visiting players, mimicking their characteristic stances, ever ready to tease the error-prone or the egotistical.
Visiting teams often sit on their dugout step to watch the ribbing. "I get the feeling they like coming to Philadelphia because of the Phanatic," Burgoyne says. When he's through with the players, he'll kidnap a choir member. Or her microphone. "There are a lot of ways you can wreak havoc on the field before the game," he chuckles, as if he only watched the hijinks instead of perpetrating them.