Free agency in baseball is usually a monied game of chess that’s all about improving a team’s lineup or pitching staff, but for the Philadelphia Phillies it’s become a battle to retain the team’s mascot.
The Phillies are now suing the New York company that created the Phanatic mascot to prevent the green furry from demanding more money.
In a complaint filed Friday with the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, the Phillies alleged Harrison/Erickson threatened to terminate the Phillies’ rights to the mascot next year, and "make the Phanatic a free agent" unless the team renegotiated its 1984 agreement to acquire the mascot's rights.
The Phillies are asking a judge to affirm their rights and are suing H/E for “unjust enrichment and breach of good faith,” according to ABC News.
The Phillies contracted with H/E in 1978 to develop the Phanatic for $3,900, including expenses, which amounted to $2,000. The Phillies reached an agreement to cover promotional items and paid H/E $100,000 in royalties, only to be sued by the company in 1979. As part of the settlement later that year, the Phillies said they made a $115,000 one-time payment and agreed to pay $5,000 annually, increasing by $1,000 per year.
According to the Phillies, the team reached an agreement with H/E in 1984 to buy all rights to the "artistic sculpture known as the 'Phillie Phanatic'" for $215,000.
According to ABC News, Harrison/Erickson lawyers sent a letter to the Phillies on June 1 last year claiming H/E had the right to terminate the 1984 agreement and saying absent a new deal the Phillies would not be able to use the Phanatic after June 15, 2020.