Aug 20, 2012

The Famous Chicken

Thursday, August 20, 1992
Ft. Myers Miracle @ West Palm Beach Expos
Municipal Stadium - West Palm Beach, FL

Pitching: Mike Misuraca vs. Joey Eischen

Results: Expos defeat Miracle, 5 - 1

Notes: I'll always remember going to this game with my dad less than two months after my 12th birthday.  The Famous Chicken mascot made a special appearance.  On the way to the game, Dad told me a bit about him.  He began his career in California where Ted Giannoulas first donned the chicken costume to become a character then known as the KGB Chicken.  After separating from KGB Radio, he performed as the San Diego Chicken, and then The Famous Chicken later.

The Chicken was a brilliant physical comedian who gave birth to the concept of the sports mascot as we know it today.  He began performing at San Diego Padres games in the mid 70's and was the inspiration behind the creation of the beloved Phillie Phanatic.  Like the Phanatic, The Famous Chicken made everything that he touched more fun and special.  This game where I first saw him took place 20 years ago, and I still remember it and smile today.

The Chicken was awesome with kids.  I got to meet him at the game where he signed this 8x10 photo for me, which I kept with the game program all these years.  I was able to see him perform one more time, 16 years later on August 14th, 2008.  The game was in Scranton where the SWB Yankees were taking on the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs.  I may have been the only 28 year old who stood in line to meet him that night, but I wanted to take a moment to shake his hand and thank him and let him know how much I enjoy his work ever since that first night back in '92 when I was a kid.  He was a very gracious and awesome guy, and he took a moment to sign my game program with his real name.

The Expos has a great game the night that the Chicken came to town.  Southpaw Joey Eischen struck out 12 in 7 innings of work for his 7th win of the season.  Eischen made his major league debut two years later with the Montreal Expos.  He was traded along with Roberto Kelly to the Dodgers in 1995.  He would go on to pitch in relief for the Dodgers, Tigers and Reds before returning to the Expos in 2001.  He had an excellent season in 2002 with a 6-1 record, a 1.34 ERA, and 51 strikeouts in just under 54 innings of work out of the bullpen.  He remained with the organization for the rest of his career, including the move from Montreal to Washington in 2005, and retired after the 2006 season.