Picture this: waking up bright and early, arriving at the ballpark three and a half hours before game time, coordinating and preparing routines for the fifth and seventh inning, all while having to make time for appearances in schools, hospitals, nursing homes, at events for businesses, community days and weddings.
For us, this is no ordinary routine. But for the Phillie Phanatic, this is just a walk in the ballpark.
How is there time for the Phillie Phanatic to make appearances during the on and off season while devoting his time at the Citizens Bank Ballpark? From making appearances not just in the Greater Philadelphia area, but around the world as well, the Phanatic has roughly 560-600 appearances a year.
“You name it, the Phanatic has been to about everything,” Tom Burgoyne said.
Burgoyne, who calls himself “the best friend of the Phanatic,” has traveled everywhere from minor league to major league ballparks and has even made appearances in Japan, Australia and Europe. Burgoyne has even attended every All Star game since 1996. In his 22 years of bringing joy to the faces of Phillies fans everywhere, Burgoyne incorporates the character of the Phanatic to raise awareness in the Philadelphia area for a great cause.
Not only does the Phanatic parade around the ballpark bringing smiles to fans, but he is also part of a movement to encourage the importance of reading. Burgoyne launched the “Be a Phanatic About Reading” program to encourage kids ranging from kindergarten to eighth grade to read for 15 minutes or more a day. After they complete the program requirements, the kids fill out Phanatic-themed sheets to campaign for the mascot to visit the top 20-30 schools each year that participated in the program. The schools selected host a group reading assembly with the mascot.
When it comes to reading, Burgoyne isn’t all talk. He writes Phanatic-themed children’s books and just finished his eighth book, which comes out this spring.
“It keeps me busy a bit, but it’s all within the merchandise of the Philles and the Phanatic. I keep very busy and I enjoy writing books for children to encourage them to read,” Burgoyne said about his books.
The books can be purchased at the ballpark and, in the beginning of May, all the Barnes & Noble stores will have a special display for the books.
During game time, the Phanatic barely gets a break. The Phanatic isn’t just responsible for rehearsing routines; he has to create and coordinate them as well. Before each game, Burgoyne makes his way up to the control room, meets with the music operator and tells him exactly what he wants to do each night.
“It [game night] is a busy night, but it’s always different, and that’s what I like about the job. It’s crazy, but that’s what I like about it,” Burgoyne said.
Before Burgoyne gets suited up into the fuzzy green costume, he surveys his surroundings to get a sense of what’s going on. After he’s dressed, Burgoyne is out on the field on his red ATV, doing anything from messing with the choir singing the anthem to goofing off with whichever guest throws the first pitch. These acts are all to emphasize the comedic character of the Phanatic.
During the game, Burgoyne goes back out into the crowd, visits folks in the stands and then gets ready for his routine in the fifth inning. He has a break between his fifth inning performance and his seventh inning performance on top of the dugout.
“I could have Cabrini College dancers coming in to dance, other schools or dance groups at a time to come in, or another mascot to help out with another skit. There’s a lot of things that have to be coordinated,” Burgoyne said.
The Phanatic is preparing for the “Paint the Town Red” week, which is the last week of March. This is the fourth year for the event, and the Phanatic exchanges his typically green costume for a red one before the first home game to remind “phans” that baseball is approaching.
This year’s “Paint the Town Red” event will be especially important for the Phanatic. On March 29, the team will unveil 20 five-foot fiber glass statues of the Phanatic, all painted in different designs by various artists. These statues are going to be up all spring and summer throughout the city’s most popular tourist attractions, including the Philadelphia Zoo, Constitution Center, Liberty Bell, Love Park and more, all of which are open to the public.
The kick-off event for the “Paint the Town Red” week will be held at the Please Touch museum (Memorial Hall) and all information is posted on the Phillies Web site, Phillies.com.
Amidst his sea of responsibilities, the Phanatic still treasures his title as the most lovable mascot.
“I do feel like it has been an unbelieveable exeperience. I’ve lucked into it and it brings smiles to so many faces,” Burgoyne said. “The best thing is to see reactions of the kids and seeing that the adults get just as excited as the kids do. By being the Phanatic, you’re bringing a lot of joy to a lot a of people and one day I’ll look back and say, ‘Wow that was an unbelievable experience!’”