Sometimes, a lovable mascot does not turn out the way a team’s management had imagined. With Halloween just around the corner, The McGill Tribune ranks the top-10 most terrifying mascots in the world of sports.
10. Buster Bronco (Western Michigan University)
Western Michigan University introduced Buster Bronco in 1988 but came out with a new look for him last fall. The new Buster is a slim, athletic creature with the most intimidating glare that a giant, fuzzy horse head can give. The change is a sharp contrast from the old, goofy Buster: His eyes were half open, he had a confused grin, and the colour contrast between his head and his snout was comically unnatural. Many students found him endearing and it took less than two weeks for 1,600 people to sign a petition to bring back the old mascot. Unfortunately, the university kept the updated, scary Buster regardless.
9. Wenlock and Mandeville (London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games)
The tall, pale cyclopes known as Wenlock and Mandeville look more like what would happen if Kang and Kodos from “The Simpsons” got left out in the sun for too long. Their eyes are the problem: Wenlock appears to have their brow scrunched to look determined and competitive, but it comes across as angry and menacing. Meanwhile, Mandeville’s wide eye gives the impression that they are afraid of the children who come to take photos with it. Whether angry or scared, it doesn’t matter—they are both very, very eerie.
8. Mr. Redlegs and Rosie Red (Cincinnati Reds)
At first glance, Cincinnati Reds mascots Mr. Redlegs and Rosie Red look like smaller, knock-off versions of New York Mets mascot Mr. Met. However, upon closer examination, Mr. Redlegs’ strange eyes and creepy stare become obvious while his disingenuous smile is hidden behind an oversized Stalin-esque mustache. Rosie Red, often at Mr. Redlegs’ side, is harder to pin down. If Flo from the Progressive Insurance commercials had her head enlarged to three times its size and then turned into a baseball, Rosie Red would be the end product. Simply put, Mr. Redlegs and Rosie Red are not the family-friendly couple to watch a ballgame with.
7. The Stanford Tree (Stanford University)
As the official mascot of the Stanford University marching band, the Stanford Tree goes wherever the band goes. In 1981, the school declared that all sports teams would be represented by the colour of cardinal in place of the Tree, but the band kept the tree due to its popularity, which persisted despite its distinctly off-putting appearance. The misshapen tree is a sight to behold. Its large buck teeth and eyes that look in opposite directions are very weird, and they bring to mind childhood nightmares of monsters under the bed.
6. WuShock (Wichita State University)
The Wichita State University sports teams are called the Shockers because students used to earn money in the summer ‘shocking’—or harvesting—wheat in the fields of Kansas. Naturally, the school wanted a mascot that both honoured their harvesting history and depicted them as tough competitors. Thus, WuShock was born. WuShock was intended to be a muscular, intimidating bundle of wheat. Unfortunately for the Shockers, there is no way to put a face on a bundle of wheat without it being strange. WuShock’s menacing scowl brings to mind the nightmare in which murderous scarecrows chase you down in a cornfield.
5. Purdue Pete (Purdue University)
Pete is not the official mascot of Purdue University, but he is honoured as such for how he hypes up the crowd at sporting events. His caricatured image dates back to 1940, but the costume has since undergone several major modifications. None of these changes got rid of his creepy features. In 2011, the university considered a makeover to downsize Pete’s head so as not to scare children. The proposition was met with backlash, though, and, so, his bizarre human face and large, ghoulish eyes still haunt sports fans today.
4. Friar Don (Providence Friars)
It’s incredibly difficult for any team to pull off a successful human mascot. Providence College’s Friar Don is no exception. Given their team name, Providence opted for the obvious mascot choice: A friar. Ultimately, that led to the monstrosity that is Friar Don. He is haunting and ghoulish with his “The Scream”-like face. The proportions of his facial features and costume elements are completely off-base; they definitely don’t match anything approaching reality.
3. Gritty (Philadelphia Flyers)
Gritty was introduced to Flyers fans in September 2018, but the fuzzy creature claims to have been hiding in the stands at the Wells Fargo Center for much longer. He’s gained many fans from the publicity that came following his introduction, but the reality is that he is a terrible mascot. No one is all that sure what he is supposed to look like; what is sure is that Gritty is absolutely terrifying. His giant googly eyes and wiry, unkempt hair give him an air of derangement while his orange-and-black colouring scheme gives off a distinct Halloween vibe.
2. Pierre the Pelican (New Orleans Pelicans)
The Pelicans brought Pierre to life in 2013, and his design was immediately met with criticism for his horrifying non-pelican-like features. His creepy, clownish face and giant, chicken-like body were a better fit for a low-budget horror movie than courtside at a professional basketball game. The Pelicans came out with a new design later that season, citing a broken beak as the reason for his reconstructive surgery. The lack of clown makeup in the new costume did wonders for his appearance, although he still looks more like a chicken than a pelican.
1. King Cake Baby (New Orleans Pelicans)
Somehow, Pierre wasn’t bad enough for the Pelicans. New Orleans has two spooky off-court talents: Pierre the Pelican ranked number two on our list, and King Cake Baby now takes the number one spot. The inspiration for the team mascot is the traditional king cake, a Mardi Gras custom in which people hide a small baby figurine inside of a ring-shaped cake. King Cake Baby is easily the most terrifying child found outside of horror films like The Shining. The team’s main mascot, Pierre the Pelican, was already scary enough, but the terrifying King Cake Baby made him look as friendly as Big Bird from Sesame Street.