Monday Mascots #4: Mr. Red

20 07 2015

A week ago today I was at the home run derby!  I’m letting my homage to the Reds for the All-Star festivities last week leak over into this week.  On that note, here’s my 4th mascot post.  This is actually the first post about your more “traditional” mascot – meaning there’s a guy who is paid by the team to dress up in mascot attire.  I’ve done a post about Babe Ruth’s personal good luck charm, and one about the Angels’ Rally Monkey.

But, this particular mascot is actually retired.  So I guess I still haven’t done a post about an active mascot yet!

Mascot/Team:   Mr. Red (Cincinnati Reds, 1968-2007)

Mr. Red

Background:   The Reds first came up with a mascot known as Mr. Red in 1953 as part of the Crosley Field All-star game logo.  The character with a baseball head and a handlebar mustache and a bat.  The same character then appeared on either a primary or secondary logo for the team from 1954 through 1967.

Mr. Redlegs 1955

However, this mustachioed gentleman isn’t the guy really known as Mr. Red – the Reds would later dub that guy “Mr. Redlegs” when he came back in 2008.  He’s a mascot for another post!

The clean-shaven mascot known as Mr. Red first appeared in 1968 as part of the “Running Man” logo.  This became the team’s primary logo in 1972.  He donned the number 27, and the Reds were apparently hesitant to hand #27 out to an actual player due to this.

Reds Logo Mr. Red 1972-1992

The creation of this Mr. Red generally coincided with the Reds’ new ownership; Francis L. Dale bought the team in 1967 and committed to keeping the team in Cincinnati by building a stadium downtown by the river.  This was during the best days in franchise history.  From the Big Red Machine to the 1990 Wire-to-Wire World Champions, “Running Man” saw 3 World Series wins, 5 pennants and 7 division titles before he was replaced by the primary logo in 1992 (he functioned as an alternate logo until 2007).

Mr. Red 1975

The “live” mascot first showed up in 1973, when Dick Wagner purchased the team from Dale – he was there for the 3 home games in the 1975 World Series.  In the 1980’s, Marge Schott did away with him in favor of her dog Schottzie, but he returned in 1997 with a more modern look as Schott was on her way out of baseball.

Mr. Red was joined by Gapper in 2003, and he officially retired in 2007 to make way for the return of Mr. Redlegs and a female mascot named Rosie Red.  Those guys and gal will get their own post someday in the future, but this post is for the Mr. Red I was used to growing up!  His retirement didn’t completely last – he came back for a part-time gig in 2012 and can now be seen on selected dates helping the with the Reds’ mascot duties at Great American Ballpark alongside Rosie and Mr. Redlegs.

Mr. Red Mr. Redlegs Rosie Red race

Outside of baseball:   Like any good mascot, Mr. Red could be found off the field at parties, etc. during his days as the lone Reds mascot.  According the Reds website, when he retired you could expect to find “this Running Man sunbathing, vacationing and coaching in Sarasota, Florida”.

Baseball card connection:  I was surprised to see there were only 2 cardboard versions of Mr. Red.  He was featured (with the same photo) in the 2000 and 2001 annual Kahn’s set that was given out as a promotional item at a specified Reds’ home game.

2001 Kahn's Mr. Red

This year there was a Mascot set associated with the All-Star Fanfest.  Five cards of the Reds’ 4 mascots, and Mr. Red was featured on one of them.  I didn’t get this card when I was down there – just Gapper and Mr. Redlegs for me.

Mr. Red

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