|Saturday, November 2
Mascot 'original' gets a little help from friends
ESPN.com news services
So much for thinking baseball mascots live a glamorous life.
John Routh, also known as Billy the Marlin, the mascot for the Florida Marlins, is considering to sue the team over his recent firing, The Palm Beach Post reported Saturday.
According to the report, Routh, 43, said he wants a severance package. The former mascot made more than $80,000 a year and has hired an attorney. But that's not all -- Routh has actually received backing from his former felt-woven colleagues.
"I've heard from all the other mascots around the leagues," Routh told The Post. "The Phillie Phanatic called me first, then Raymond (of the Devil Rays) in Tampa. I got a call from the Pirate Parrot today and Lou Seal from San Francisco. It's all been very positive."
"We believe Billy, er, I mean John, is entitled to a severance package and we hope the Marlins will do the right thing," Miami attorney Rick Bales said.
The team said Routh isn't entitled to compensation despite the fact he's been Billy since the team's debut in 1993, and that someone else will take over mascot duties at the start of the new season.
"John Routh's contract expired. He simply was not renewed because the team felt it was time for a change," Marlins vice president P.J. Loyello said.
According to The Post, Routh's salary is among the top of the scale in baseball.
Meanwhile, other mascots wait and see on Billy's fate.
"John made Billy the Marlin what he is today. He is really beloved down there in South Florida, and that's why mascots are so important: Even if you're not a big baseball fan everybody can relate to having fun and John realizes that," said Tom Burgoyne, the Philadelphia man better known around Veterans Stadium as the Phillie Phanatic.
"You really do need the right personality to play a character like that. You can't just throw anybody in there," Burgoyne said. "John is one of the originals. He has been acting like an idiot professionally for a long time so we all kind of look up to John."
Apparently, Billy isn't getting a lot of support sent the Marlins way:
Said Loyello: "I've received one phone call and the guy wanted Billy's job. I told him to submit a resume."