The Crazy Crab: Hang In There
Hang In There
The official slogan for the 1984 San Francisco Giants was “Hang in there”. This is, as slogans go, not the most promising. The reason for such a lackluster outlook was the combination of a few factors. It had been nearly a decade since the team made the postseason, attendance was low, and Candlestick Park was a frigid wind tunnel perched on a piece of land in the middle of San Francisco bay. Also, the team had a few holes to say the least. The outlook wasn’t good. The Giants needed to do something to bring more fans to the Stick. The marketing department thought long and hard and came up with the perfect plan: a mascot. Not just any mascot, an anti-mascot.
During the 70’s mascots were all the rage. By the time 1984 rolled around the Giants decided to try their hand at lampooning the mascot craze by creating the Crazy Crab. The Crazy Crab was the marketing department’s attempt to get fans in the stands. Did it work? Not really. It just made people mad and they took their anger out on the Crab.
In the beginning fans were encouraged to boo the mascot, but as time went on things got a little dangerous. How did things get dangerous? Here’s the formula:
beer + frigid cold + bad baseball team + large crab + hard objects = dangerous
The Crazy Crab, played by actor Wayne Doba, spent its days taunting the fans while having hard objects thrown at it. From beer bottles to batteries, he was a target for frustrated, drunken fans. The Crab was even in a commercial with manager Frank Robinson, who had to be restrained from assaulting the wretched crustacean. Eventually the Crab’s costume had to be reinforced with fiberglass for Doba’s safety.
Barely Hanging In There
While Wayne was having his costume bulletproofed, the Giants’ ’84 season got continuously worse until they were languishing away in last place. Robinson was fired and replaced by Danny Ozark. Then, as the end of the season was in sight, the San Diego Padres came to town. The Crazy Crab was having a nice stroll near the visitor’s dugout, going about his typical antagonistic behavior, when he was tackled by a couple of the Padres’ players. Who was the guilty party? None other than future Giants manager, Bruce Bochy, then catcher for the Padres, and utility infielder, Kurt Bevacqua. During the attack, Wayne suffered back injuries, forcing him to miss the final two games of the season and leaving him disabled for a month. He then sued the Padres and eventually settled out of court to the tune of $2,000.
Enough For Now
The Giants opted out of a Crazy Crab encore for the ’85 season, robbing Doba of a curtain call. In fact, they opted out of a mascot until 1996 when they introduced Lou Seal, a much more tolerable motivator. The Crab made a return to Candlestick for the final game at the windy palace. He was also celebrated in the form of a bobblehead giveaway to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Giants move west. Fans continue to embrace and loathe the Crazy Crab, who now lends his name to a delicious sandwich that one can get at Oracle Park.
Have Giants fans seen the last of the crab? Has Wayne Doba permanently hung up his claws? Only time will tell if we continue to “love that Crazy Crab” (Google “The Crazy Crab Song” you won’t be disappointed or maybe you will).
Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images