THE INTERVIEW: The Famous Chicken

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE INTERVIEW Late-Summer 2018
Ted Giannoulas – The Famous Chicken
with LondonOntarioSports.com Editor Jeffrey Reed

After decades of working as an ink-stained scribe, few things shock me anymore. But in the early-1980s during an interview at a downtown hotel with London’s Ted Giannoulas – The Famous Chicken – I was stunned when I came face-to-face with his feathered outfit and head hanging in a closet. It was like seeing my favourite superhero, Batman, without his mask. Fast track to just a few months ago, and Giannoulas also experienced a surreal moment involving his famous mascot head. “Someone had one of my chicken heads up for auction and got almost $10,000!” said a shocked yet amused Giannoulas (read the full story below). Giannoulas, 64, is a former Londoner who now lives in San Diego, the city where he hatched his comedy routine. The legend of The Famous Chicken is well known. He first worked for $2 an hour in a rudimentary chicken costume for San Diego radio station KGB in 1974. After five years and enormous success, Giannoulas wanted to grow the legend, while the radio station wanted exclusive rights to the then-called San Diego Chicken. He was fired, and was sued for trademark retention. The London native won, became a “freelance chicken,” and in July 1979 hatched at Jack Murphy Stadium at a Padres game in front of 47,000 fans. For decades, the 5’4” acrobatic, animated Giannoulas would play stadiums and arenas 260 days a year. His act has always been part Groucho Marx, part Charlie Chaplin but mostly the young boy who lived in a modest home on Essex Street in London while attending Empress Public School and later Central Collegiate. But now, Giannoulas puts on The Famous Chicken outfit for just dozens of games each year while enjoying life with his wife, Jane, and letting his body heal from a gruelling gig which has tested his physical fortitude for more than 40 years. A little-known fact: The Famous Chicken was born at Eager Beaver Baseball Association (EBBA) Little League games at London’s Kensington and West Lions parks. “I would go out to the parks to watch my friends, and carry on along the sidelines,” Giannoulas said. Before his family moved to San Diego when he was 16, Giannoulas also worked the old wooden scoreboard at Labatt Park during Pontiacs’ Intercounty Baseball League contests. Oddly enough, this scribe, too, worked the scoreboard and later lived on Essex Street. Make no mistake about it: The Famous Chicken was a finely-tuned athlete – not just a “generic, homogenized” mascot like those who dominate the sports scene today, according to Giannoulas. Jane said when she watches her husband perform, it’s like “a child experiencing fireworks for the first time.” When Giannoulas decides to hang up The Famous Chicken outfit for good, rest assured, his contribution to sports, in particular Major League Baseball, will live forever. Here’s the late-summer edition of THE INTERVIEW, with Ted Giannoulas aka The Famous Chicken.

Jeffrey Reed: Ted, it has been a few years since we’ve been together for a lengthy chat – probably the end of the Class AA Eastern League London Tigers reign in 1993.
The Famous Chicken: Has it been that long? Time flies!
Reed: No pun intended (laughing).
TFC: (Laughing) That’s right!
Reed: How is life treating you now that you’ve cut back substantially on your gruelling schedule?
TFC: Life is good, Jeff, I can’t complain. I’m really enjoying life. You’re right, I’ve pulled back my horns a little bit. In fact, I’ve cut back on my schedule considerably, after doing this for a 44th year!

Reed: And you have so many local ties – some of which we share, like working the old wooden scoreboard at Labatt Park.
TFC: Yes! I used to race the other kids to that Labatt Park to see if I could get the scoreboard job. A lot of times I would get beaten out there, so I learned to get down there sooner and sooner. And then, thankfully, the general manager or the president of the team, whoever I was dealing with, liked what I did so much with the scoreboard in keeping up and not missing a pitch, that he always looked for me thereafter to make sure that if I was coming to the game, I would get the job. So If I got there by a certain time, I got it automatically even over the other kids.
Reed: I remember receiving the huge sum of 25 cents to do that job – and of course, that was a bag of chips and a Pepsi back then.
TFC: That’s right!
Reed: I chased down foul balls for Arden Eddie, too – later I would play under him and coach with him, which was quite a thrill. You would chase down ‘fowl’ balls, I suppose (laughing)? Sorry, bad joke.
TFC: That’s right (laughing). But I used to chase foul balls as a fan, if it was near my section. And boy, I wouldn’t give up that baseball for anything! I think I only got one in all my years at Labatt Park.  You know, even as a fan, even as a kid, boy, it wasn’t the Major Leagues, but it sure felt like big-time baseball. But I know it wasn’t the big leagues, because I was a huge Giants fan.
Reed: I did not know that!
TFC: Yes. I first became aware of baseball around 1962 when I was in Grade 2. I just loved the Giants. One day, they were playing a rare game on local TV and I was just fascinated by the makeup of the team, and how fancy they played the game. They had big home run hitters, and this big high-kicking Dominican pitcher – Juan Marichal, of course – and this great, fast centre fielder who would always catch the ball down around his belt buckle – Willie Mays. And we had players like Orlando Cepeda, Willie McCovey. Gosh, the entire makeup of the team impressed me. We hit a lot of home runs – not much running the base paths, but a big home run hitting team. I was just captivated by all of it.
Reed: They had an amazing slugging team. I think Mays was the best to ever play the game. But not far behind him was my childhood hero, the Pirates’ Roberto Clemente.
TFC: Yes, he was a great player. And Mays, too, could do it all. You know, Jeff, I just wonder if Mays had played in a decent ballpark for most of his career, instead of Candlestick Park, what the heck kind of numbers he would have put up!
Reed: Precisely. It was not a friendly ballpark for hitters or fans – windy, cavernous come to mind.
TFC:  The wind at Candlestick Park would take everything to right field and so, literally he lost so much of his power. He had to alternate and go to right field so much, because otherwise he’d hit into the teeth of that wind which would just knock everything down. If he had he played in any other stadium, really, in the National League, oh my gosh, what incredible numbers he would have had —numbers that would’ve been put out of reach, I think, even to this day. And Jeff, I did games at Candlestick, and I’m telling you, even in July, the wind was so bitterly cold. Mark Twain wrote, ‘The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco! (laughing). I knew what he meant. It was no place to enjoy a sporting event. Had they built the stadium more inland, it would have been much better. But there was some sort of backroom political deal that talked them into putting it where it was. If you know the story or a little bit of history, they took —they took (Giants owner) Horace Stoneman out there in November, after baseball season, when the weather is at its best. You’ve seen this when the 49ers played at Candlestick. The weather would be gorgeous in November. So Stoneman thought it would be great. Well, unbeknownst to him, it was just a mess there for another 10 months out of the year. He got suckered into that, and it was terrible. And I have to tell you, even for me it was not fun performing at Candlestick.
Reed: Add to that the fact you wore your Chicken outfit which, I am assuming, made you the hottest man on the field at every other ballpark but Candlestick.
TFC: Believe me, it was biting cold around my legs. The wind would blow through the beak. You’d see those fans just bundled up in parkas and toques and you wondered, how the heck do people come out here to enjoy a midsummer night’s game?

“Jeff, I did games at Candlestick, and I’m telling you, even in July, the wind was so bitterly cold. Mark Twain wrote, ‘The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco! (laughing). I knew what he meant. It was no place to enjoy a sporting event.” – The Famous Chicken

Reed: There are continued rumblings of how Rogers Centre is obsolete and how an outdoor park, in the style of Pittsburgh’s PNC, would be great for Blue Jays fans. But I say, big mistake – another Mistake by the Lake, in the style of Exhibition Stadium.
TFC: Wow. I would never guess they would be having those conversations. But I have to say, Jeff, as a sports fan, it really amazes me, for all the beauty of Canada, the natural environmental beauty of Canada, why virtually every sports stadium has artificial turf! How can that be?

Reed: Never been a fan of it – cuts back on and even ruins some careers. But money talks – easy to maintain.
TFC: I can’t explain it. You see the beauty of natural turf on a televised game, or when you are attending in person. And then, when you see a stadium with plastic, or even when they make the turf look like grass and the dark beads kick up on every ground ball, you wonder, why can’t they just put down natural grass? It doesn’t matter if it’s the CFL or Major League Baseball. Just think of how beautiful Canada is, and all of its forestry. You think of grass. Then you tune into a game and see plastic turf. So I hope if they decide to build a new ballpark in Montreal, like I’ve heard talk, then they should go with natural grass.
Reed: Tell me, after performing for more than 40 years, just how badly is your body beat up after being on artificial turf – or real grass, for that matter?
TFC: Oh my knees hurt – they are always hurting badly the next day. Even when I was in my 20s. I did a SMU football game at old Cowboys Stadium in Irving, Texas. I remember that the next day, my knees were just aching. It was like performing on a parking lot.
Reed: You are amazing athletic, flexible, full of energy – hold nothing back when you perform. You are the opposite of lethargic when it comes to entertaining the fans – and the players, coaches and officials. You were an innovator.
TFC: I decided very early that I couldn’t just be a walk-around character that would wave to people – a benign figure. I had to be animated, like a cartoon. I brought my fascination for comedy, merged it with my love of sports. And I brought my natural athleticism into it. I saw myself as a cartoon. I thought, Bugs Bunny moves around pretty good. Why can’t I move a little bit like Bugs Bunny? And I did bring my natural athleticism into it. As a kid my favourite goalies were Roger Crozier, Rogie Vachon. They moved like cats on a hot tin roof! I just loved their style. It was so entertaining to watch. So I decided to bring my energy to the performances. Even my wife says, when she sits up in the stands and looks down at the field at me, it’s like watching a cartoon come to life, right before your eyes.
Reed: Your act is timeless – it will stand the test of time. What other mascot has brought so many smiles to even the players in the dugout and on the field? None. You remain the mascot gold standard.
TFC: Thank you, Jeff. A few years ago, Lady Gaga made a grand entrance, hatching out of a giant egg …
Reed: Just like you did when you debuted your now-famous Chicken costume.

TFC: Yes! Gaga was brought in by some Egyptian slaves …
Reed: I remember – on the red carpet at the Grammys!
TFC: I saw the reference right away! But of course, I liked that act better when the Chicken did it 34 years ago! (laughing).

“I decided very early that I couldn’t just be a walk-around character that would wave to people – a benign figure. I had to be animated, like a cartoon. I brought my fascination for comedy, merged it with my love of sports. And I brought my natural athleticism into it. I saw myself as a cartoon.” – The Famous Chicken

Reed: That’s hilarious! You see? Timeless. And from someone who knows and respects the game, I have always admired the way you also did the same – picking your spots, inserting comedy so it works best. And I think of the opposite of what you do – a Cincinnati Reds mascot with a giant baseball head, wandering around aimlessly almost while shaking hands with random fans. Which brings me to my next point: today’s mascots pale in comparison to your act. The Phillie Fanatic rates a distant second. But really, today’s mascots are off an assembly line.

TFC: That’s true, Jeff. They are generic, homogenized mascots.  And I’m just guessing maybe several people take turns dressing up in these outfits, so they can’t really rely on a single person. In some instances, it might be who draws the short straw for the night: who is going to suit up tonight? I came at it from a different perspective. I enjoyed it. I had fun with it and it just wanted to have fun and amuse an audience. Because when I looked at a stadium, I was always enthralled by the fans who would come out because I saw it as a community gathering, a place to have some enjoyment and entertainment. And I can add to that. I don’t want to impede the dignity of the game and I don’t want to encroach on the players’ mentality to win on any level, but I think there’s an opportunity here to have some fun and remind everyone, this is just a game. Thousands of games are played, and there’s always another one tomorrow. And so, we can spice it up with a few laughs here and there. And thankfully all the sports – at least the ones that I’ve enjoyed playing in North America – have been very accepting of this. Sometimes I wonder if I was overseas and I was performing at a European soccer match, how fans would react (laughing).
Reed: True. We don’t want any soccer hooligans plucking your feathers.
TFC: (Laughing) Soccer is a very difficult sport to perform for, because all the focus is on the ball and it is all over the place. And years ago, I just found I couldn’t be as funny at soccer games, so I cut that out from teams requesting. I said, I’d love to come in and take your cheque, but I can’t be funny for your fans. There’s no way. The focus is on the ball and in the odd situation that maybe a ball goes out of bounds or goes on the fly and hits me, then I can play off of that. But those are few and far between – even though that’s happened a few times! I can’t corral the audience’s attention as much as I could, say, during a time out of a basketball game, or obviously at baseball or even hockey game, when fans sit right on top of you. At hockey games, I can play off of the glass. The players are just inches away from me and I can goof off of them through the glass and behind the nets, and around the stands, and still add to the entertainment of the evening.
Reed: I have to again thank you for your tips before I filled the role of mascot incognito at my high school alma mater, Montcalm Secondary School, where I was the Cougar mascot for one game. It was an amazing experience – I can see how it can be addictive, like stand-up comedy. I did a dance-off, breakdance-style, with one of the fans. So yes, I stole your act for one game.
TFC: I’m honoured! I’m happy it got a few laughs!
Reed: But I have to tell you, I was physically spent after that gig! I can only imagine how exhausted you must have been after every game.
TFC: Yes, I was. It’s very interesting Jeff. Afterwards, I would sit with fans and sign autographs and take selfies or photos, and then I would actually get a second wind, tapping into their enthusiasm. I mean these lines would go an hour or two hours long, believe it or not, post-game. And to me, it was a personal thrill to see that I would touch that many people, that they would stay around that long for photos or to get an autograph, or just to shake a hand and express their appreciation for the evening.
Reed:  That’s amazing.
TFC: It meant a lot to me, and revitalized me after a game. But by the time I was done and ready to take off the outfit, I’d still be exhausted, but I wouldn’t be totally spent. I’d feel good about the evening.
Reed: It’s like what Jim Bouton wrote about in his book, Ball Four: ‘The cool of the evening.’ It’s the feeling of satisfaction that you have after a good performance.
TFC: Yes. And I would have some energy left afterwards, and that’s tapping into the good will of the fans. Jeff, I don’t mean to make it sound corny. I don’t mean to make it sound like a cliché. But I am telling you, the energy that they bestow to myself as an entertainer is incredible. I can see the players themselves go, ‘Boy the fans just fired us up.’ So there is something to be said for that, there really is. It’s just that fifth element that comes in with energy, and you have to instinctively rise up to meet it. Even the visiting ballplayers got into it. Eric Karros, when he was a first baseman with the Dodgers – he’s from San Diego but he had a long career with the Dodgers and then later with the Cubs, and is now a TV broadcaster – got into it. One time the Dodgers, the archrivals of the Padres, were visiting San Diego and I made a surprise cameo appearance on the field to put the voodoo hex on all of the Padres.
Reed: The voodoo hex was my favourite gag of yours!
TFC: Well, the fans went nuts – they went nuts! This was after a long summer on the road, and then I finally made a Padres appearance. Karros was quoted in the L.A. Times as saying, ‘It was great when the Chicken came out there, and the fans went nuts. It felt like a Raiders/Chargers game, like I remember from a kid. Oh, it just jacked me up.’ It was great to read a quote like that.

Reed: When I think about baseball in the late-1970s and throughout the 1980s especially, and the whole subculture attached to that – TV shows including The Baseball Bunch, and This Week In Baseball included – and, of course, all of your live appearances where the legend was born, then I quickly realize you are an important part of that era. And you’ve hobnobbed with the stars – everyone from David Letterman to U.S. President Ronald Reagan.

“Afterwards, I would sit with fans and sign autographs and take selfies or photos, and then I would actually get a second wind, tapping into their enthusiasm. I mean these lines would go an hour or two hours long, believe it or not, post-game. And to me, it was a personal thrill to see that I would touch that many people, that they would stay around that long for photos or to get an autograph, or just to shake a hand and express their appreciation for the evening.” – The Famous Chicken

TFC: Thank you Jeff. And really, it’s just something that I just bumped into or walked into, unbeknownst, it was a unique form of gorilla marketing.
Reed: Tell the story, then, of how the San Diego Chicken – your predecessor – was born.
TFC: In 1974, it was unheard of – gorilla marketing – and the radio station that I worked with had just hired me to wear a chicken suit for a one-week promotional gimmick. A lot of people don’t know that my first stint was to go to the zoo with Easter eggs. And that was it. But as a rouse with the station to stay on, I offered to go to a ballgame – opening night with the Padres. I was hoping to get in for free to opening night. And as I walked the grandstands and cavorted a little bit and goofed around, just on a minor scale, it got a lot of attention. There was tremendous amusement, and it was really the first form of gorilla marketing. In other words, putting an advertisement for a product in an unusual situation that draws lots of attention with very little cost attached. It cost $2 an hour at the time because that’s what they were paying me.
Reed: You were working for chicken feed – sorry, bad pun.
TFC: (Laughing) It drew a lot of attention for the radio station, so as a result, that was the genesis of the Chicken, and from there it just grew and grew. And I was encouraged quite a bit, not only by the radio station, but also by the San Diego Padres, because their fans were loving it. And the Padres’ owner, Ray Kroc, who was the founder of McDonald’s, he just loved anything that made his customers happy. He was all about the consumer.
Reed: How ironic that Kroc loved your act – a good thing he didn’t make Chicken McNuggets back then!
TFC: (Laughing) Kroc said, ‘Whatever satisfies our fans, makes them happy, is good. We have a losing team, but our customers go home every night laughing at that Chicken: great stuff! Give him whatever he wants. I’m fronting it.’ And he had a good sense of humour, too. So, it was the Padres who kept encouraging me to do more and more as time progressed. So really it was a perfect storm for what I was doing at the time.
Reed: And as I said, you were the innovator when it comes to mascots. You set the bar high and really jump-started the modern mascot frenzy.
TFC: Jeff, it’s interesting that you say I was almost historic in nature. Someone had one of my chicken heads up for auction and got almost $10,000! I’ve given a few heads away over the years, for example to sports bars to display. So one of them may have put it up for sale. Collectors called me out of the blue asking if it is authentic before they bid on it. I took a close look at photos of the head online, and confirmed it was the real deal. I’ve had about 60 heads over the past 44 years, most of which I’ve kept, or else because they were so bad I just ended up recycling them or destroying them. I can tell if it’s real from some of the dirt markings, and the stitching, because my mom (Helen) would sew those things together for me. I can’t believe someone would pay $10,000 for my chicken head!
Reed: And one of your complete Chicken outfits is on permanent display at the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Rightfully so. As I stated, you are a permanent part of baseball history – an important figure.
TFC: Without sounding too corny, I really do look at it sincerely that I am in the Hall of Fame of people’s hearts.
Reed: And I know you are sincere about that. You take the Chicken very seriously and it warms your heart that you have brought so much joy to sports fans – baseball fans in particular.
TFC: Thank you, Jeff. That matters more to me than anything else.
Reed: Ted, we have seen many mascots stem from the Chicken’s success – the Phillie Fanatic, for example – perhaps the best example. BJ Birdie at Blue Jays contests. Have any of these mascots spoken with you and thanked you for inspiring them, or to being a part of their own success?
TFC: Very few have reached out, believe it or not.
Reed: That surprises me. But again, there are multiple people wearing any given mascot outfit, right?

“Someone had one of my chicken heads up for auction and got almost $10,000! I’ve given a few heads away over the years, for example to sports bars to display. So one of them may have put it up for sale. Collectors called me out of the blue asking if it is authentic before they bid on it. I took a close look at photos of the head online, and confirmed it was the real deal.” – The Famous Chicken

TFC: Yes. And you’d be surprised. There’s a lot to be said about that. There aren’t that many people that stay with it. And Jeff, I am surprised how many teams pass on the opportunity to seize on this as a marketing vehicle. For the five years I was at KGB radio, we recognized, at the very least, that this is a wonderful marketing vehicle in the community. Why sports teams haven’t realized that they can take a character and, if it’s done properly, really monetize it, market it and be an ambassador for this team, really does surprise me. Ray Kroc understood this. The Padres even told me, privately, ‘Ted, you are a tourist attraction, do you know that? We get people coming out here to see a game, but they also come to see you every night, and that makes you a tourist attraction, like any animal that they’ve got at the zoo!’ (Laughing).
Reed: You are a sports institution. But tell me about the tough times – unruly fans who rode you pretty hard.
TFC:  I did a basketball game one time in New Jersey, in the Metro League, and this was a playoff game. The opposing fans hated each other. I mean, the court was like the demilitarized zone, and the fans on one side were screaming at the fans at the other side and vice versa. I’m thinking how am I going to make this audience laugh? They don’t want to laugh. They are just screaming at each other. It was in the northeastern corridor which has an edge to it, as you know.
Reed: Oh yes. I sat along the third base side at a Pirates game at Three Rivers Stadium, and from the first pitch the fans rode the umpire with language that would make a sailor blush. Tough, blue-collar fans!
TFC: And at this basketball game, it was very difficult for me to make that audience laugh. They weren’t particularly nasty about me, but whenever I would go on the floor during a timeout break, they would just get quiet and maybe have a little bit of laughter, and then I’d come off the floor and the screaming at each other just ensued all over again. That was a tough night. But as a personal reflection of a difficult crowd, there’s been times I’ve gone into that northeastern corridor around Philadelphia.
Reed: Philly fans booed Santa Claus at an Eagles game, remember?
TFC: Yes. So I’m introduced at a ballgame, and at first they don’t give any applause or even just a little greeting. They look at you with a jaundiced eye as if to say, ‘You’re not one of us, you’re not from here.’ They’re very tribal. But after five or 10 minutes, they see the act begin and then the laughter starts. And then they are your new best friend.
Reed: You have to earn their respect. Same in New York.
TFC: In the late-70s, I did a couple of games at the old Vet in Philadelphia. This was a fanatical audience. The fans were very, very, fowl mouthed. They still laughed grudgingly at the bits and it got tremendous media exposure and play. But boy oh boy, when a Philadelphia athlete really says, ‘I just don’t like it here,’ like Mike Schmidt, Dr. J, Moses Malone all said at one time, then I know exactly what they’re talking about. Just a few days ago, the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins struck out. The ball got away from the catcher, and he was thrown out at first base. He’s trotting back to the dugout and the camera caught him talking to fans in the front row who are just hurling (insults) at him! So he goes into the dugout, pulls his helmet down, but then he actually comes back up to the top of the steps to address the fans! I guess they are still yelling at him, and he points to the plate and says, ‘Why don’t you go hit?’ And I’m thinking, these are your hometown fans. This poor guy had a great rookie season last year and he had a good hitting streak this year – he caught fire. So, he’s in a bit of a slump, they turn on you that fast. I said, boy that’s gotta’ be a difficult place to be, right? Thankfully, I’ve got a perfect storm. Growing up here in San Diego, and growing up with the Chicken here in San Diego, I had the perfect storm here – great weather, super fans, and at the time with former owner Ray Kroc, very warm ownership, very inviting and encouraging.

“In the late-70s, I did a couple of games at the old Vet in Philadelphia. This was a fanatical audience. The fans were very, very, fowl mouthed. They still laughed grudgingly at the bits and it got tremendous media exposure and play. But boy oh boy, when a Philadelphia athlete really says, ‘I just don’t like it here,’ like Mike Schmidt, Dr. J, Moses Malone all said at one time, then I know exactly what they’re talking about.” – The Famous Chicken

Reed: Ted, do you have a favourite gag from your repertoire?
TFC: Oh, there are so many! The one that always endeared itself the most, and the one I always had so much fun with, has been the baby chicks routine.
Reed: That’s one of your go-to gags, a staple of your act!
TFC: Yes, when I get the 4- and 5-year-olds pulled out of the stands and I rehearse with them. They dress up in baby chicken suits and follow me out onto the field for an inning break, and to copy all my moves. And we do three simple things. We parade out onto the field in a train formation, one behind the other, with a little toddler at the end, and we spank the catcher on the butt for good luck. It’s always the home team catcher. Then, we go in front of the visiting dugout and we do the voodoo on them – the whammies! And then we do a U-turn and head back towards the home dugout where we came from, but we detour momentarily by the home plate umpire and, standing behind him one at a time, we all do the raised-leg salute, one at a time. Kind of like a dog going on a fire hydrant.
Reed: That one always cracks me up.
TFC: (Laughing) It’s a good one. The fans just scream out loud in hysterics, especially when we get to the littlest toddler of all. And over the years, I’ve done this to the point where a few of those little kids actually went on to become big-league ballplayers.
Reed: No way?!
TFC: One of them is (recently-retired big-leaguer now New York Yankees advisor) Nick Swisher, when he was 4 years old. It was in Norfolk, Virginia.
Reed: Ted, to wrap up, do you think we’ll ever see another mascot on the same scale as the Famous Chicken?
TFC: Probably not, because a lot of mascots now are done by committee, it seems. And it’s very interesting Jeff, you know, I didn’t go to the players or the managers and coaches or the umpires with my ideas. They actually came to me.
Reed: That’s a testament to how they felt about you, Ted. You respected the game and understood the game.

TFC: Thank you, Jeff. They would come to me and say, ‘Boy, Ted, you gotta’ do this and that.’ And umpire would say, ‘Why don’t you come out there in the fourth inning with me and do something with me and players.’ Even remember (former Yankees pitching great) Ron Guidry asking me to come out to the mound with him. He said, ‘My wife is a big fan and she’ll be watching back in New York. Can you come out and goof out there with me? She’ll get the biggest kick out of it.’ So I would plan something with them for a certain inning. Don’t forget, these were superstars. They were the highest paid players. We thought it was state-of-the-art money back then. Not by today’s salaries. Anyway, all of these superstars, umpires, coaches, even front office personnel would come to me. There was humility and humour about them that was so magnificent. It was a different time. So to answer your question, I don’t know if we’ll ever see that ever. I may have ridden a perfect storm in society, in our culture and where nobody was really offended with much, but they took everything with a sense of humour. When they saw it, it was in the vein of a sense of humour.

“I didn’t go to the players or the managers and coaches or the umpires with my ideas. They actually came to me.” – The Famous Chicken

Reed: Indeed, political correctness rules with an iron fist today. I see The Famous Chicken as a modern-day Charlie Chaplin, kicking the immigration officer in the rear, challenging authority but in a funny way.
TFC: I look back to the ‘70s when I was in my incubation and my growth period, and unemployment was out of control. Inflation actually reached 21% – that’s unheard of these days. And yet people seemed content and happy, and able to work through the tough times with a positive spirit. They knew it was OK to laugh. So I look back on those days and those headlines – and there were some trying times back then. But people were positive, and I think it reflected in what I was doing in a chicken suit. I only existed because people laughed through it, about it, and with it.
30

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be sure to read our archived editions of THE INTERVIEW:
Spring-Early Summer 2018  Mike Weir
Winter 2017-18 John Kastner, Commissioner, Intercounty Baseball League
Fall 2017 Ken Duke, PGA Tour
Summer 2017 Adam Hadwin, PGA Tour
Spring 2017 Olympian Lanni Marchant
Winter 2016 Former London Knights Captain David Simpson
Late-Fall 2016 Olympic Gold Medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir
Early-Fall 2016 Mackenzie Tour PGA Tour Canada President Jeff Monday
Summer 2016 FC London Soccer Club President Ian Campbell
Late-Spring 2016 Bodybuilder Emily Zalinka
Early-Spring 2016 Sport Tourism London’s Cheryl Finn
Late-Winter 2016 London Mayor Matt Brown
Early-Winter 2016 Fanshawe College Manager of Athletics Nathan McFadden
January 2016 Golf Professional Alan McLean

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook Email

About jeffreyreed

A leading Canadian communications professional. Corporate office http://www.JeffreyReedReporting.com established 1989. Publisher/Editor of this website and https://londonontariogolf.com.

No comments yet... Be the first to leave a reply!