Mascots were initially introduced to sports to bring good luck. However, today, the role of sports mascots has broadened significantly. Sporting teams now utilize mascots to rev up the crowd, provide entertainment, build a relationship between fans and the sporting team, and help sell merchandise. It is not just about luck anymore. The best sports mascots form a team’s identity. This icon works as a branding strategy where fans equate the mascot to the team they support.
Mascots have been associated with amateur and professional sporting teams for at least two centuries. It is believed that the first mascot used in American sports was an English bulldog called Handsome Dan. This was at Yale University in 1889. Since then, mascots have become unanimous in sporting events.
Here are some of the best sports mascot for the NBA, NFL, NHL and MLB:
- Best NBA Mascots: Benny the Bull (Chicago Bulls), Jazz Bear (Utah Jazz)
- Best NFL Mascots: Roary (Detroit Lions), Swoop (Philadelphia Eagles)
- Best NHL Mascots: Wild Wings (Anaheim Ducks), Howler (Arizona Coyotes).
- Best MLB Mascots: Luchador (Arizona Diamondbacks), (St. Louis Cardinals).
There are many famous sports mascots in basketball (NBA), football (NFL), hockey (NHL), baseball (MLB), and soccer (MLS). Here is a list of the best sports mascots in history:
Best NBA Mascots
The NBA has some of the best sports mascots in history. Although to some, basketball mascots may seem like a diversion from the actual sport. To others, these lovable emblems are a welcome part of NBA culture.
Basketball mascots are particularly popular with kids, introducing them to the sport. These mascots have encouraged many children to watch their first basketball games. For some, they may even play in the sport. In fact, basketball is one of the best sports for girls and boys to build their confidence, dexterity, accuracy, and many athletic skills.
Every NBA home city loves their basketball mascot. However, they may not be aware of the NBA mascots on other teams, including some forgotten in the past.
Here are the best NBA mascots of all time:
Benny the Bull (Chicago Bulls)
Benny the Bull is the best NBA mascot. It is one of the older NBA mascots on this list, debuting in 1969. He’s included primarily for becoming one of the most recognizable mascots ever.
Having lived through years of Michael Jordan’s dominance, Benny the Bull has sometimes overshadowed the team’s performance. Benny’s still as much of an attraction as ever, no matter where the Bulls may rank.
Jazz Bear (Utah Jazz)
The Jazz Bear is a multi-time winner of the Mascot of the Year prize. Since debuting in 1994, he’s arguably become more iconic than the team. This famous NBA mascot takes the mascot thing to a whole new level, pulling out-of-this-world stunts off with ease.
From fearful stunts with fire to comedic goofs, the Jazz Bear is perhaps the NBA’s best mascot and one of the more effective campaigns to connect to a team’s home city.
Stuff the Magic Dragon (Orlando Magic)
Named after Walt Disney, the Orlando Magic chose to forego using a Disney character for its mascot. Instead, they went with Stuff the Magic Dragon for their inaugural season in 1989.
Stuff arrived in an iconic egg-hatching ceremony, and although Stuff has been compared to the Phanatic in Philadelphia, his NBA antics have set him apart.
King Cake Baby (New Orleans Pelicans)
King Cake Baby is as iconic as he is horrifying. Although Pierre the Pelican has since replaced the King Cake Baby, the reaction was mixed at best when the little guy hit the court first in 2014.
In honour of Mardi Gras and a Cronenberg-esque stare, King Cake Baby is routinely rated as one of the sports’ creepiest mascots.
Rumble the Bison (Oklahoma City Thunder)
The former Seattle SuperSonics’ Squatch turned into the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Rumble the Bison after the team moved in mid-2008.
In his first year on the court, he won the coveted NBA Mascot of the Year award. Rumble is a mascot character of multiple identities, part-bison and part-human, and one that’s deeply appreciated in his home city.
The Coyote (San Antonio Spurs)
The Coyote is one of the most famous basketball mascots in the NBA, gracing the courts since 1983. Over the years, this crowd favourite has found several ways to entertain the crowd.
From riding a unicycle to dribbling a ball off his feet and more, the Coyote has a wacky look and communicates everything you’d hope for an NBA mascot.
Bango (Milwaukee Bucks)
Bango is one of the top basketball mascots in the NBA. It is named after a catchphrase attributed to former Minnesota Bucks announcer Eddie Doucette.
Bango has been on the NBA court since 1977, enthralling fans with all sorts of stunts, dances, and shenanigans. Bango’s finest moment was perhaps completing a dunk from a massive 16-foot-high ladder.
Clutch (Houston Rockets)
Clutch debuted in 1995 and ever since has always kept the mood lively. He’s one of the most recognizable mascot designs in the United States. At the Toyota Center, Clutch has been seen making free throws, occasionally balancing on medicine balls.
In an impressive feat, Clutch even broke a dozen bricks with his bare paw! He even appeared in some State Farm commercials and has had a lasting impact on American culture.
Hugo the Hornet (Charlotte)
Hugo the Hornet is a famous basketball mascot that entered the NBA in 1988. Ever since, Hugo has been a very entertaining creature and attracted the eyes of youngsters everywhere. Sesame Street’s Jim Henson’s daughter designed its look, and its name was taken from fans’ suggestions.
Originally the NBA mascot in New Orleans, Hugo can now be found cheering on Charlotte, where he’s been since 2014.
Crunch the Wolf (Minnesota Timberwolves)
Crunch the Wolf may be one of the weaker, less creative names in the current landscape of mascots in the NBA, but he’s always gone above and beyond to deliver an unforgettable experience for fans.
A backstory building on being a wolf from northern Minnesota, Crunch’s an award-winning mascot designer who’s brought a lot to the table since his debut in the late 1980s.
Grizz (Memphis Grizzlies)
Grizz has been a key figure in Memphis sports for a long time. A long-tenured NBA mascot has engaged in entertaining gags and dances, capturing the imagination, keeping fans engaged, and cheering on his home team.
Grizz himself often pays tribute to Memphis’ professional wrestling history with WWE-related stunts a regular in his game-to-game routine.
Best NFL Mascots
American Football is a favourite pastime for millions of people during Autumn. The players, the action, and the competitiveness of the teams and fans all mix to be a pinnacle of excitement and dedication. This can be shared with the wearing of team jerseys, the flying of flags, and the displaying of logos and icons to show exactly where your allegiance lies on the football field.
However, a massive aspect of a unique sports team is the football mascot. Naturally, the NFL has a treasure trove of the best football mascots for each team, ranging from silly to intimidating. Which NFL mascots are the best, though?
Here are the best NFL mascots that define football royalty:
Roary (Detroit Lions)
Roary is the best NFL mascot. Debuting in 1995, this lion clad in black and blue represents the Detroit Lions well. The fun-loving character can often be seen on the sidelines supporting his team and interacting with fans. However, he does his part off of the field, as well.
Whether it be entertaining members of the community, working towards charitable goals, or simply teaching the children of Detroit about good character, Roary is always busy helping out however he can.
Swoop (Philadelphia Eagles)
While the Detroit Lions have Roary, the Philadelphia Eagles have Swoop. This giant eagle is the face of the team and shows it by always sporting the team jersey and cheering for the players during games. However, there appears to be more to the story than that.
As the legend goes, Swoop was born in Neshaminy State Park. Unfortunately, the bald eagle was brought into the world with poor eyesight and pitiful strength, although he had a strong and true heart. Soon enough, however, a Philadelphia Eagles fan granted poor Swoop a team jersey that granted him eyesight as sharp as an eagle and strength to rival that of a football player.
Now, Swoop is an important part of the community who dedicates his life to helping others and supporting his team.
Steely McBeam (Pittsburgh Steelers)
This chisel-jawed steel worker is immediately recognizable by his oversized head featuring a gleeful look of determination. Plus, his huge steel beam and Steelers logo are pretty iconic.
His name, Steely McBeam, is fully representative of his community. Steely represents the industrial heritage of Pittsburgh, naturally. The “Mc” prefix alludes to the community’s Irish roots, and the “Beam” suffix is for the steel beams produced in Pittsburgh.
The character’s appearance and name were carefully crafted in pride of the community that he so often cheers for.
Sourdough Sam (San Francisco 49ers)
Sourdough Sam is one of the top football mascots. Taking over the role of the mascot from the blanket-clad mule mascot, Clementine, Sourdough Sam is currently the face of the San Francisco 49ers.
Originally appearing in the 1970s, the energetic prospector is a good representation of the California gold rush, after which the team is named. While the character has seen various redesigns, each new iteration features the same familiar spirit and visuals of an 1800s prospector.
Poe (Baltimore Ravens)
This large, black raven earned his name from famed Baltimore resident Edgar Allen Poe. However, he was originally backed up by two other brothers, Edgar and Allen. The brothers all took the form of a raven as a reference to the famous writer’s poem, The Raven.
However, the brothers also came along with some original lore separate from poems and writers, yet more focused on the players on the field. Edgar was the first to hatch and was the tall, broad-shouldered older brother. This brother represented the backfield of the football team, the linebacker, fullback & quarterback.
Allan was the smaller of the brothers. Quick and agile, he was representative of the receivers and running backs who carry the ball down the field. This left Poe to symbolize the linemen who defend the line.
Poe’s personality is that of a slow, fun-loving slob of a Raven. However, these personality traits were retired in 2008 with the loss of Edgar and Allen, who were replaced with two real ravens, Rise and Conquer.
Pat Patriot (New England Patriots)
Pat the Patriot is a famous football mascot depicted as an American Revolution soldier, complete with a tricorne hat and Continental Army uniform. However, the mascot caused some issues for the Patriot’s merchandising department, as Pat is so cleanly detailed in his design.
This makes the mascot exceedingly difficult to include on merchandise and promotional material. It was seriously considered to simply retire the mascot in 1979. However, they ultimately let the fans vote for the fate of the mascot. Pat the Patriot was the overwhelming victor of the poll in true brand loyalty and has survived retirement even today.
Best NHL Mascots
The NHL has had famous hockey mascots for many decades. Unlike football teams, most mascots for the NHL are actual humans who wear specially designed costumes that reflect the sporting team and its colours. Whether the team is losing or winning, the best hockey mascot can help bring a smile to the faces of the fans with theatrics.
It might be difficult to notice a mascot watching hockey games on television, unlike baseball or basketball events. If you attend a live NHL game, hockey mascots are front and centre of all the action. Who is your favourite mascot?
Here are the best NHL mascots:
Wild Wings (Anaheim Ducks)
Anaheim Ducks are a professional ice hockey team based in Anaheim, California. The Ducks play their home games at the Honda Center. The official mascot for the Anaheim Ducks is a duck named Wild Wing. The duck has been the team’s only mascot since its inaugural season. The mascot wears a Duck jersey with the number 93 etched on the back, referring to the year the Ducks were elected to join the NHL.
The Duck is well known for his entry into the arena from the rafters. The importance of a mascot can be judged because when the Anaheim Ducks used a secondary mascot, The Iceman, in a few games, the mascot was poorly received by fans and was quickly eliminated. The Wild Wing thus continued to be a fan favourite.
Howler (Arizona Coyotes)
Arizona Coyotes have a famous hockey mascot called the Howler. The Howler was introduced in October 2005 and wore the number 96 on his jersey, which reveals the year when the ex-Canadian team, Winnipeg Jets, moved to Arizona.
The Howler is well known for beating the bucket to rev up the fans. Another unique feature about the Howler is the many different outfits it wears with the same number.
Blades the Bruin (Boston Bruins)
The Boston Bruins mascot is named Blades the Bruin, who has served the team for nearly two decades. Blades was named by Jill Dempsey, a young fan attending a Boston game in 1999.
Blades is most well-known for wearing an oversized Jersey with size 13 skates. When not attending ice hockey games, the mascot raises money for charity and enjoys great popularity among children.
Carlton the Bear (Toronto Maple Leafs)
The mascot for the Toronto Maple Leafs is Carlton the Bear. He made his first appearance in 1995 when the Leafs were playing at home against the New York Islanders. Carlton’s name and number come from the location of the Maple Leaf Gardens, which was home to the Leafs from 1931-to 1999.
The Leafs have since then moved to the Scotiabank center. Carlton travels everywhere with the team and is well known for throwing souvenirs shirts to the fans.
Chance the Gila (Vegas Golden Knights)
Chance the Gila is one of the best NHL mascots. The mascot for the Vegas Golden Knights is Chance the Gila monster. Chance fits the job perfectly in a city like Las Vegas, where everything is done in style and flair.
Chance the Gila defines the essence of hockey as a sport. This famous hockey mascot is strong, dedicated, colourful, and loud at every hockey game.
Fin the Whale (Vancouver Canucks)
The mascot for the Vancouver Canucks is Fin the Whale. Fin is named after an orca and made his debut during the 2001-2002 season. His trademark move is emitting mist from his blowhole and chomping down on the heads of unsuspecting fans when they visit Rogers Arena.
The unique feature about Fin is that he is also an excellent goaltender. When not attending hockey games, he is a regular at Canuck Place, a hospice for terminally ill children run by the Canucks.
GNASH (Nashville Predators)
Another popular NHL mascot is GNASH of The Nashville Predators. GNASH is lovable and fun-loving. This famous mascot is well-known for his exuberant personality.
You can find GNASH cheering on for the Nashville Predators in many matches. He energizes the crowd during games with his stunts, skits and lively spirit.
Sabretooth (Buffalo Sabres)
Sabretooth is one of the best NHL mascots. Sabretooth is the mascot of the Buffalo Sabres. He is a sabre-toothed tiger who has also previously served as the mascot of the Buffalo Bandits of the National Lacrosse League. He shoots shirts into the crowd and plays Sabres charts on a drum.
Harvey the Hound (Calgary Flames)
The name of the Calgary Flames mascot is Harvey the Hound. Harvey has been delighting Flames fans and children for many years now and is considered one of the most popular mascots in professional sports.
Stormy the Pig (Carolina Hurricanes)
Stormy the Pig is one of the most famous NHL mascots, taking the form of a lovable pig. The name of the Carolina Hurricanes mascot is Stormy the Pig. Stormy loves to play hockey, dance, pull pranks, and give high fives.
Best MLB Mascots
The tradition of using mascots in baseball was started by the New York Mets when they opened Shea Stadium in 1964. Over the next few years, baseball mascots were temporarily used by a few teams. In 1977, the San Diego Padres introduced the San Diego Chicken, who became a permanent fixture at their games. Since then, all except three teams on the MLB have official baseball mascots.
Today, mascots play a vital role in marketing the team and introducing the game to children. Here are the ten best MLB mascots:
Ace (Toronto Blues Jays)
Ace is the official mascot of the Toronto Blue Jays. Initially, he worked with his female counterpart, Diamond, and they performed as a duo in all home games; today, Diamond is no longer present. Ace now has a younger brother called Junior.
Ace resembles a tall blue jay. Ace wears the number zero, and Junior’s number is 1/2. Junior is usually present on Junior Jays Days (usually Saturdays or Sundays) when children are also invited to run the bases.
Luchador (Arizona Diamondbacks)
The mascot for the Arizona Diamondbacks is Luchador. He is the second mascot for the team and was introduced in 2012. Since then, he has become very popular with the kids. He always wears red pants, a black cape, and a patterned mask after the team’s logo.
Luchador’s history is related to Hispanic culture. Since he was introduced, Luchador has enjoyed a significant presence and is admired by most Arizona Diamondback fans.
Fredbird (St. Louis Cardinals)
The mascot for the St. Louis Cardinals is Fredbird. He was introduced in 1979 and has proven to be very popular with fans because of his fancy dancing maneuvers and throwing T-shirts into the stands.
Off-season, Fredbird makes many volunteer appearances at schools, hospitals, and other charities.
Lou Seal (San Francisco Giants)
The official mascot of the San Francisco Giants is Lou Seal. Introduced in 1996, he has become a regular at all Giants home games. Lou Seal wears the orange jerseys at home games and sometimes can be seen wearing a giraffe hat.
Marine Moose (Seattle Mariners)
The mascot for the Seattle Mariners is Marine Moose. He made his debut in April 1990. Each year, he makes hundreds of appearances at Mariner home games and visits hospitals, wedding receptions, and schools during the off-season. He is a little wild, but that is what the fans love about him.
Phillie Phanatic (Philadelphia Phillies)
The official mascot for the Philadelphia Phillies is Phillie Phanatic. This large furry green bipedal creature with an oval beak is a regular feature at all Philly home games. He is often seen riding an ATV and is known to give away baseballs and other souvenirs.
Rosie Red (Cincinnati Reds)
Rosie Red is one of the best MLB mascots. The mascot for the Cincinnati Reds is Rosie Red. This female mascot was introduced in 2008 as a new companion for two other mascots, Mr. Redlegs and Gapper.
Swinging Friar (San Diego Padres)
The mascot for the San Diego Padres is the Swinging Friar, who has been with the team since the late 1950s. The Swinging Friar resembles an overweight cartoon character, always smiling and dressed like a friar.
During the Padre home games, he often wears a special camouflage cloak. He also has an active following on his Twitter account.
Homer the Brave (Atlanta Braves)
Homer the Brave is the official mascot for the Atlanta Braves. He has a baseball-shaped head and made his first appearance in 1989. The Atlanta Braves haven’t been very lucky with their mascots and have made quite a few replacements in the past: from Chief Noc-A-Homa to Rally to the Bleacher Creature.
Rangers Captain (Texas Rangers)
Rangers Captain is the official mascot of the Texas Rangers. He is exciting and energetic. Apart from his presence at the games, Rangers Captain also makes appearances at birthday parties, school shows, corporate events, community events, and fundraisers.
Best Soccer Mascots
World soccer is one of the most beloved sports in the world. As such, there are plenty of mascots to enjoy for all of the best teams. As you know, however, not all mascots are the same. Some famous soccer mascots are better than others, but that largely comes down to preference. There can be no definitive answer to what the best MLS mascots are.
Let’s take a look at a bunch of the mascot greats in the world of soccer. Perhaps your favourite mascot will cut!
Here are the best soccer mascots of all time:
Castle (Real Valladolid)
Castle comes from the Real Valladoid and is known as one of the best soccer mascots. This character helps Spanish La Liga Segunda side Real Valladolid pay homage to their home region of Castille and Leon. The mascot resembles a castle tower and strolls around the crowd.
As far as soccer mascots go, Castle is simple and memorable enough to succeed as a character. He’s certainly made an impression on the team.
Berni the Bear (Bayern Munich)
This big, lovable bear is a perfect character to represent soccer. His design is excellent, and he encapsulates the spirit of sportsmanship. Naturally, this has helped him become one of the most beloved sports mascots ever coming out of Europe. As a bonus, he is also highly marketable to kids and fans of all ages.
Cyril the Swan (Swansea)
This soccer mascot is a bit of a troublemaker. He has had more than one run-in with the police for the assault and battery of other soccer mascots. For example, he once removed the head of Millwall’s mascot and proceeded to drop-kick it across the field, much to the horror of Millwall fans.
Of course, this also makes him highly entertaining and enjoyed by many. Let’s hope his antics don’t get him into trouble.
Billy the Badger (Fulham)
Another mischievous soccer mascot, Billy the Badger, has a habit of game interference on the sidelines or even in the middle of the field. Billy once decided that he wanted to delay the second half of a match by beginning by break dancing on the field. Naturally, he was promptly escorted off of the pitch by a referee.
These incidents also extend to interacting with managers. He once noticed that Avram Grant, who was in charge of Chelsea then, did not look very happy. Then he did the logical thing and attempted to give the manager a big hug to cheer him up.
Wolfie is yet another mascot that isn’t opposed to fighting. In a match against Bristol City, he thought it would be a lot of fun to start a bit of conflict.
Bristol City had their two pig mascots, and Wolfie decided to confront them both. A few punches were then thrown before another mascot came to break the whole thing up. It’s all just good-spirited sportsmanship, right? Wolfie did nothing wrong here.
Gunnersaurus Rex (Arsenal)
The Gunnersaurus Rex is one of the best sports mascot in history. Gunnersaurus Rex is a terrific mascot built to help Arsenal make its way to victory. He can inspire the best of cheering and get the teammates pumped up to support each other.
This famous soccer mascot represents Arsenal well. Plus, he’s always on hand to celebrate when a goal is scored without fail.
Samson is one of the best sports mascot in soccer. While the old superstition claims that black cats are bad luck, Samson seems to be a good luck charm for Sunderland more often than not. He’s always ready to help lead the fans in a cheer and can easily inspire the team with visions of victory.
Rammie is a breath of fresh air in a world filled with some ill-mannered mascots. This is one of the more well-behaved mascots in British football and was the first full-time character to join the sport. Naturally, this makes him a very popular figure with fans and a great asset to the team.
Chaddy the Owl (Oldham)
This lovely owl is a two-time winner of the Mascot Grand National, a race held among various mascots. That’s a pretty impressive goal, and he’s most certainly a good fit for the team, as well as a fantastic addition to any match.
Although, he has not always been a good mascot. He’s been the source of some trouble on a few different occasions, namely a couple of fights. One fight happened with the Blackpool mascot while the match was ongoing, which is never good.
Another incident happened when Chaddy pulled the boots off of Bloomfield Bear and proceeded to hurl them into the crowd. No one is perfect, but Chaddy might have crossed the line a time or two!
Best Sports Mascots FAQ
Benny the Bull is one of the best basketball mascots in the NBA. This famous bull mascot has over decades of history with the Chicago Bulls.
Roary is the best NFL mascot. This famous football mascot represents the Detroit Lions. It is a lion mascot clad in black and blue, representing the team’s colours.
Wild Wings is the best NHL mascot. This popular hockey mascot belongs to the Anaheim Ducks from Anaheim, California. It is a duck mascot that wears the team’s jersey proudly and exuberantly.
Luchador is the best MLB mascot. It represents the Arizona Diamondbacks team. A favourite with the kids, Luchador wears red pants, a patterned mask, and a black cape in his costume.