||As if the threat of physical harm wasn't enough, mascots also spend an inordinate amount of time in the courtroom. Somewhere, there's a David E. Kelley series in all of this:
Three years ago, a New Jersey man filed a $35 million lawsuit against the Orioles and their Bird, claiming mascot Jeff Gartner struck him with his tail, pushed him in the chest and took his property during a 1997 game at Camden Yards.
"Kind of reminds me of Jimmy Carter and the rabbit," Orioles owner Peter Angelos told the Baltimore Daily Record, referring to the former president's run-in with a bunny during a canoe trip.
A Detroit Tigers fan sued the team's mascot, PAWS, after he suffered neck and jaw injuries when a foul ball hit him during a 1995 game. The fan claimed he was hurt because he was paying attention to the mascot and not the game; a jury disagreed, and a circuit court judge ordered the fan to pay the Tigers $8,650 in legal fees.
During a game in 2000, Florida's Billy the Marlin accidentally hit a fan in the eye with a wadded-up T-shirt shot out of a CO2 launcher. The fan was knocked unconscious and later filed suit.
Three years ago, a former Kansas City Royals employee sued the club for allegedly patterning its mascot, Sluggerrr, after his copyrighted Leo the Royal Lion character.
According to an article in the Cardozo Law Review, the Phillie Phanatic "holds the dubious record as the most-sued mascot in the majors." Among the judgments levied against him: $2.5 million to a man who suffered back injuries from being hugged too hard; $128,000 to a man who was knocked over at a church carnival; and $25,000 to a pregnant woman who was accidentally kicked in the stomach.