Dandy was the mascot of the New York Yankees between 1979 and 1981. He was a large pinstriped bird that sported a Yankees hat. He had a mustache that gave him an appearance similar to that of former Yankee catcher Thurman Munson. His name was a play on the classic American folk song "Yankee Doodle Dandy".
Eager to add a mascot, Yankees management contracted Wayde Harrison and Bonnie Erickson of Acme Mascots, who created the Phillie Phanatic in 1978, to develop a mascot for their franchise. After a meeting with Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, in which Steinbrenner and Erickson argued over the shade of blue to use, the Yankees leased Dandy for three years and $30,000.
Release and reception
On July 10, 1979, The San Diego Chicken, then working for the Seattle Mariners, put a hex on Yankees pitcher Ron Guidry during a game at the Seattle Kingdome. Yankees outfielder Lou Piniella responded by chasing the mascot and throwing his glove at him. In response, Steinbrenner said that mascots had no place in baseball, despite the imminent release of Dandy.
Dandy debuted in late-July 1979, weeks after the incident in Seattle. When Thurman Munson died in a plane crash on August 2, 1979, Dandy was put on hiatus, as Dandy resembled Munson. Though Yankees organist Eddie Layton composed a song for Dandy, it was never played. Dandy was confined to the upper deck area of Yankee Stadium by Yankees management. After the lease expired, Harrison and Erickson declined the Yankees' request to sign another lease, as they felt the mascot did not receive the necessary support from management.
Along with this experiment, the Yankees briefly had mascots resembling ballpark food (plus Yankees hats on top) during the mid-1990s. Outside of these two occasions, the Yankees have not had an official mascot or cheerleading squad roam the stands or perform on the field. Unofficial mascots have included a squirrel that Teddy Kider of The New York Times nicknamed "Left Field Ratatosk" after it was seen on the right field foul pole in late 2007. The squirrel was referred to as "Scooter" by the fans, for Yankees legendary shortstop Phil Rizzuto, who died in August 2007.
Though George Steinbrenner gave final approval to Dandy, he claimed had "no recollection" of Dandy in 1998. Joseph M. Perello, vice president for business development for the Yankees, and Lonn Trost, Yankees' general counsel, were unaware that the Yankees once had a mascot.