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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The 'Baseball Bug' (Also Known as the Worst Indians Mascot of All Time) Is Somehow Alive and Well in Manhattan

Posted By on Tue, Jul 7, 2015 at 7:33 PM

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Tribe fans of a certain age might remember the Baseball Bug, the short-lived mascot the Wahoos trotted out for two brief seasons (1980-1981). For the rest of you, here's a breakdown on what is almost universally reviled as one of the worst decisions in Indians history.

From Greg Brinda and Bill Livingston's book The Great Book of Cleveland Sports Lists:

It was, said Indians Vice President Bob Dibiasio, "a red, furry thing." Supposed to look like a lady bug, a good luck 
charm, it was more appealing than the midges that would swarm in from the lake in the summer time. You know, the "swarm troopers" that beat Joba Chamberlain and the Yankees in the playoffs. But not by much. Told during a hitting slump in the 2007 season that the Bug should be brought back for luck, Dibiasio said: "I'd rather our bats be reincarnated."

And from the Indians Journal: Year by Year and Day by Day With the Cleveland Indians Since 1901:

"The Indians foisted one of the worst mascots in baseball history on Municipal Stadium patrons in 1980. Looking to follow the success of the San Diego Chicken and the Phillie Phanatic, the Indians introduced an insect of indiscriminate origin called "The Baseball Bug." The costume consisted of a red golbe-shaped body, with a blue vest and antennae of springs with baseballs on the ends. Fans understandably failed to embrace the idea, and "The Baseball Bug" was sidelined after the 1981 season."

You get the point.

Anyway, a few weeks ago, I got a note from a guy named Chris Cavalari who said his pal Michael Frank, a longtime collector who lives in Manhattan, had the full original Baseball Bug costume in his apartment. That turned out to be true, though there's not much more to know there besides the glorious pic of the Baseball Bug head sitting in the living room below.

Said Frank, "When I bought the costume, I thought I could wear it but it's too small and too complicated." He's never worn it and it sits in the closet. Long live the Bug. Fin.

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