Beloved New York Mets mascot Mr. Met recently caused a hubbub when he flicked off a fan, who (fortunately for the rest of us) caught it on video. The uproar apparently caused Deadspin—the site that creates content by randomly ranking things such as beans (?)—to rank all the mascots in American pro-sports. Obviously, Mr. Met won overwhelmingly, because Deadspin writers have the attention span of Lonnie Smith.
So where did our beloved TC Bear fall in the rankings? Answer: 52nd. They ranked TC Bear as the 52nd best mascot out of 70 mascots.
That is absolute bull crap.
Now, I know some people (even Twins fans!) think TC Bear is a stupid mascot because he is supposedly just some random bear that has nothing to do with the Twins. Do not listen to these people. These people are dumb. TC Bear is an entirely organic mascot who has everything to do with the Twins and Minnesota.
Sure, he only became the official mascot of the Twins in 2000, but TC Bear is actually much older than that. In fact, he’s even older than the Twins himself. He just wasn’t known as “TC Bear”.
He was known as the Hamm’s beer bear.
You know, the cartoon bear who was beloved by children and, um, used to sell adult beverages?
Despite the fact they only aired in 31 states, a 1965 survey by the Audit Research Bureau found the commercials featuring the bear were the most-liked advertisements in the country. It’s not hard to see why—they were well written, well produced, and get exponentially better with each delicious Hamm’s beer consumed. Trust me. I’ve consumed a lot of Hamm’s beer both in my life and in the course of writing this post.
Anyway, Hamm’s was and is brewed in the land of the sky-blue waters, a.k.a. St. Paul, Minnesota. When the Senators moved from Washington, D.C. to the Twin Cities and became the Twins in 1961, Hamm’s was one of the team’s first and biggest sponsors. The brewery paid for 50 Twins games to be televised and all Twins games to be broadcast on the radio for their inaugural season, and they proudly took out a full, two-page ad in the Minneapolis Tribune declaring this fact.
Even the music for the Twins fight song, “We’re Going to Win Twins,” was originally from an early Hamm’s beer jingle (“Sing out for Hamm’s beer!” ... and that’s the extent of the words that I know).
At some point it occurred to someone that maybe they shouldn’t be marketing beer to children, and the Hamm’s beer bear went away—but he was not forgotten. In 1999, Advertising Age Magazine, which is (was?) a real thing, named the bear ads the 75th best marketing campaign of the 20th century. In 2000, the St. Paul Pioneer Press named the bear one of the 150 most influential Minnesotans of all time, despite the fact he was a cartoon and not even a cartoon of a fucking person.
A long campaign to erect a bronze statue in honor of the beloved bear somewhere in the Twin Cities was finally realized in 2005. Think I’m kidding? Come to the Seventh Street mall and fight me. I’ll be standing next to the bronze statue of the Hamm’s beer bear.
Luckily, the Twins picked up on the nostalgia for the bear, and carried on his legend in the form of their much more kid-friendly mascot, TC Bear. The mascot Deadspin thinks is only the 52nd best mascot in American pro-sports (out of 70 mascots). To illustrate just how dumb this is, consider the following mascots, which ranked higher on the list:
- The Baltimore Orioles bird—which doesn’t even have a name
- The Phoenix Suns’ gorilla
- ThunderBug for the Tampa Bay Lightening
- Clark the Cub—the Chicago Cubs mascot which literally IS just some random-ass bear
- K.C. Wolf, the Kansas City Chiefs mascot
- Something called “Moon Dog”, which is apparently the mascot for the Cleveland Cavaliers
So on and so fourth.
Just in case any of you think the two bears are just a big kwinky-dink:
There you have it. Clearly, Deadspin is completely devoid of Midwestern writers who enjoy cheap beer and/or know anything about the social history of local sports mascots.