San Diego Chicken laid way for mascots
    Tuesday, March 29, 2005
    John Petkovic Plain Dealer Reporter
    When Ted Giannoulas started flapping his wings, he had no idea he was hatching a      
    cottage industry.

    "I was making $3.30 a game," says Giannoulas. "It was the depression era for   
    mascots." Call it B.C. - Before the Chicken.

    By the late 1970s, though, Giannoulas - or, his alter-ego, the San Diego Chicken -     
    became a phenomenon. His "chickenshtick" not only helped Padres fans cope with a  
    horrendous team; it also became a wacky attraction across the country. He
    performed in ballparks and arenas, on TV, even at the White House.

    The yoke was cast off and the modern mascot was born. "I remember performing
    in Cleveland in September 1980, when the Indians were awful and playing at that
    old stadium," says Giannoulas, 51. "I drew 28,000; most for an Indians game that
    late in the season since 1959."

    The soaring flight of the Chicken inspired a menagerie of guys in animal suits -
    dogs, bears, wildcats. At this point, you'd be hard-pressed to find a pro sports
    team without one. "Tickets have gone up so much that teams have to provide more
    entertainment," says Giannoulas. "Mascots are as much a part of the package as
    the game itself."

    They've also become stars of the animal kingdom, though the people in the suit
    rarely get the attention that Giannoulas does. Overwelmingly, they aren't allowed
    to speak or reveal their names.