After two seasons with a slightly different look, the original version of the Phillie Phanatic will return to Citizens Bank Park. The organization reached a settlement with Bonnie Erickson and Wayde Harrison, the Phanatic's original creators.
"We welcome the original Phillie Phanatic back with open arms," Phillies executive vice president David Buck said in a statement. "We are so proud of the 44-year history of the Phanatic and what the character means to the organization, to the city of Philadelphia and to Phillies fans everywhere. Our goal throughout this process was to come to an amicable solution that guaranteed the Phanatic could continue to entertain future generations of fans."
In February of 2020, the Phillies introduced a remixed version of the Phanatic with stars around the eyes, scales under the arms and a different colored tail, among other revisions. The changes came as the team was embroiled in a lawsuit with Erickson and Harrison, who were hired to design the original Phanatic costume back in the late-1970s.
The Phillies purchased rights to the Phanatic in 1984, but federal law allows artists to renegotiate rights to their work after 35 years.
In 2018, Erickson and Harrison informed the Phillies that they would seek the rights to the Phanatic unless the team paid them millions. In 2019, the Phillies filed a lawsuit against Erickson and Harrison in New York federal court to keep their mascot, contending that the Phanatic's four-decade rise from a costume to a Philadelphia sports and cultural icon was the result of their creative forces and investment.
As the case wore on, the Phanatic had an adjusted look for a couple of years. In August, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled those changes were sufficient, while also finding that Erickson and Harrison were the Phanatic's sole copyright creators.
The settlement of the suit opens the door for the Phillies to go back to the original costume that pestered opposing players and managers for decades while helping turn countless little kids into lifelong baseball fans.
"Ever since we created the Phanatic in 1978, Philadelphia has been his home," Erickson and Harrison said. "We are thrilled to see the original Phanatic back where he should be, in Philadelphia, for the fans of the Phillies."
Jim Salisbury contributed to this article.