When the Phillies opened the doors to Veterans Stadium on April 10, 1971 they were ushering in a state-of-the-art venue. The Vet featured wall-to-wall AstroTurf, new luxury superboxes, 140 usherettes, and a (league-high at the time) $3-million scoreboard that, while giving fans updated scores, played electronic "funny" cartoons.
At the same time, the team introduced a pair of sibling mascots, Phil and Phillis. They were two young-looking people dressed in colonial garb. The duo weren't beloved or disliked, they were kind of just there. But while the live mascots may not have been a hit, there was another "Phil and Phillis" pair that caused a sensation. The Phillies had put together a "home run spectacular" as Bill Giles, Special Effects Executive at the time, called it. And spectacular it was. In Giles words:
- "They are part of my home run spectacular. When a Phillie hits a homer, Philadelphia Phil will appear between the boards in center field and hit a baseball. It will travel toward the message board in right center and strike a Liberty Bell. The bell will glow and its crack will light up. The ball will continue and hit little Philadelphia Phillis in the fanny and she will fall down. As she falls, she will pull a lanyard on a cannon and the cannon will explode. After smoke and sound effects, a Colonial American flag will drop down. Then my dancing waters will come into play to the tune of Stars and Stripes Forever."
In 1978 the Phillies introduced their new mascot, the Phillie Phanatic, to fans and he was an instant hit. The Phanatic, a creation of Wayde Harrison and Bonnie Erickson (Harrison/Erickson), is a large muppet-like creature that, as you probably know, is one of the most entertaining and interactive mascots in the history of sports. Needless to say, Phil and Phillis were the odd couple out. It really shouldn't have come as a surprise. Phil and Phillis were there to usher Veterans Stadium and the Philadelphia Phillies into the country's bicentennial and they did just that. So in 1979 Phil and Phillis were gone, and the home run spectacular was torn down and stored in the bowels of the Vet.
Then in 1980, then-Phillies Vice President Bill Giles held a Spring Clearance Sale. At the sale fans could purchase old leftover giveaways of the past such as shirts, hats, backpacks, posters, license plates, pennants, programs...you name it, the Phillies were selling it. Included in the sale were Phil and Phillis themselves. Fans had the opportunity to purchase the former mascots' costumes, and the 15-foot statues that had stood in the outfield for eight years. Stepping up to the plate to purchase the statues was the Fricano Family, owners of Storybook Land, a kiddie amusement park in Egg Harbor Township, NJ.
Today, Phil and Phillis still reside in Storybook Land in New Jersey, complete with a cluster of seats from the old Veterans Stadium sandwiched between them.