The Story of Homer the Beagle: The NY Mets’ First Mascot and the Only MLB Animal Mascot

When the New York Mets played their first major league season in 1962, it was a rough one that ended with a record of 40-120-1. But they still managed to bring in 900,000 fans, which was a big number at the time.

And we can only assume their attendance was helped by Homer the Beagle – Their first mascot and the only live animal mascot for an MLB team. (Sorry to break it to you: The Cardinals’ Fredbird, The Giants’ Lou Seal, and the Phillie Phanatic are humans wearing costumes and not actual animals.)

MLB animal mascots
*Not actual animal mascots, just humans in animal costumes

Things started off great for Homer, who lived lavishly at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and was sponsored by Rheingold Beer. He was trained by celebrity dog trainer Rudd Weatherwax, best known for training the Rough Collies that played the iconic canine character, Lassie. And even though he was beloved by fans, his career only lasted one season.

Homer the New York Mets dog mascot
Credit: Unknown

Homer was originally supposed to sit in the dugout with the team, but The Mets manager, Casey Stengel, was not a fan of the pooch and got him barred from the bench. Homer then got his own little bench behind home plate for the rest of the season. Homer’s routine, which went great in rehearsals, was to run all the bases whenever the home team got a home run. But during actual games, Homer was known to take detours and rip around the field.

Homer the Beagle in the MLB hall of fame
Homer in the MLB Hall of Fame [Credit: Reddit]

Homer was fired at the end of the season. Then Mr. Met, who was previously just a comic character, was made into the mascot. While it must have been sad for dogs across the United States to see the only canine mascot get fired, they probably got distracted right away when they saw the new mascot had a ball for a head.

Homer was supposed to celebrate a Mets home run by running the bases at the Polo Grounds. According to Roger Angell’s book “Game Time,” Homer performed well in rehearsals, but in his first real test he touched first base and second, then took a detour and raced to center field. He had to be wrangled by “three fielders, two ushers and the handler,”

Richard Sandomir, New York Times, January 2012

The Mets do have some canine representation though, in partnership with America’s Vet Dogs. They currently have a black labrador named Seaver as their official service dog. Shea, a white lab, was their previous service dog, who went on to formally train as a service dog for veterans when Seaver took over in 2023.

Related: Move over bat boys, Ripkin the Bat Dog fetches baseball bats professionally!

Ripkin the Professional Bat Dog
Credit: Ripkin the Bat Dog
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