Enter Tom Burgoyne, backup Phanatic.
"Any function where you want the Phanatic, that's where I go," says the cheerful Burgoyne, 27, a Mount Airy resident who works in the Phillies' marketing office.
Burgoyne dons the furry green suit as often as 200 times a year for new business openings, charity events and the like. This will be his fourth season in the relief role. (A third-stringer, Bill Keffer, is also on call.)
Burgoyne says organizations are told in advance when he'll be the one dispatched instead of Raymond, who first breathed life into the character in 1978.
"We're right up-front," he said. "Most people, when they think of the Phanatic, they think Dave Raymond. We let them know I'm around."
Some groups "do have some reservations about it," Burgoyne acknowledged. ''Once they see me in action, everything works out fine."
Burgoyne was fresh out of Drexel University with a marketing degree and a job selling business forms when he spotted a classified ad that read "Mascots wanted." Although the ad didn't say so, the Phillies were looking for a backup for Raymond. Burgoyne answered it because he wanted to make a few extra bucks.
Thirteen respondents were interviewed, asked to dance, then told to put on the 35-pound costume and "be the Phanatic for five minutes."
What helped him win the job?
"I've always been a sports fan. I've always been a Phanatic fan. I've got a lot of the ham in me, so that doesn't hurt."
Burgoyne and Raymond rehearse together to keep the Phanatic's funny business consistent.
"It's the same routine, the same moves," Burgoyne said. "Nothing risque, everything on a family level. Same gymnastics.
"We go over different pieces of music, different acts. We put together two-minute vignettes with a beginning, a middle and an end."
The only big difference between Phanatic I and Phanatic II? It's one that sharp-eyed kids sometimes notice: Raymond is lefthanded; Burgoyne is righthanded.
Like Raymond, who performs in minor league ballparks when the big club is on the road, Burgoyne gets the occasional out-of-town gig.
"I've done some CBA (Continental Basketball Association) games. I've done some travel, some minor league games. The Phillies are comfortable about sending me on the more popular appearances. I've performed before some big crowds."
When the Phillies are at home, Burgoyne either works in the scoreboard room, or takes the field as Phoebe, the Phanatic's mother. Same furry green suit, except that Phoebe wears a business suit, a pearl necklace and a pillbox hat. She is somewhat more restrained in her demeanor than her son.
Even after four years of scooter riding, dugout dancing, cartwheels and baby-smooching, Burgoyne said the act hasn't grown stale.
"Some days you just don't want to be funny," he admitted. "But once you
put the outfit on, every day's different. The character is spontaneous . . . You don't have too many things that are planned. That's what keeps it fresh for me."