Baseball fandom’s inherently local qualities make it hard to go too deeply into any one team’s world if you’re not already rooting for that team. There are conversations, jokes, controversies and memes that, say, Giants fans have that non-Giants fans will never likely know about. There are nicknames Tigers fans may give to a utility player that non-Tigers fans will never hear. It’s one of the cooler things about baseball fandom, actually, and whenever I stumble upon some new, well, thing that a given fan base has discussed and considered for some time, out of the view of most other fans, I smile. It’s such a rich world out there.
But it can be a bit disturbing at times to realize that you didn’t know about something important. Such as the rumor — which has now gone fully into accepted wisdom, it seems — that Hank the Dog, the Brewers’ unofficial mascot, is an impostor.
The theory, which dates back at least to December but was being discussed even before that, is that the original Hank has been replaced with a fluffier, more photogenic dog. It’s all laid out here at Brew Crew Ball, and it’s fairly undeniable based on the photographic evidence.
Is it a scandal? I’d say no. There are any number of live animal mascots which have been replaced as time has gone on. In most cases they get numeric designations like “Bevo XIV” or “Uga 10.” There’s no reason the Brewers can’t have a “Hank II” if the first Hank either died or was otherwise deemed not to be good for public appearances for some reason.
The Brewers have been more cagey about it, however. All of which makes me wonder if the Phillie Phanatic has been secretly replaced or if the original Mr. Met died in a smelting accident or something. How deep does the mascot deception go?