Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Threshers' Phinley itching for mascot title

David Deas has been Phinley, the Threshers’ mascot, since 2006. Before Deas, the job turned over each year.

CHERIE DIEZ | Times (2006)

David Deas has been Phinley, the Threshers’ mascot, since 2006. Before Deas, the job turned over each year.

CLEARWATER — The downside to being Phinley? The shark suit gets so hot that cooling off in a walk-in freezer at Bright House Field doesn't stop the sweat. And Little Leaguers can be, well, bad news.

But David Deas loves it. Even when the creepy guy dressed as an Elvis impersonator wants to get his picture taken with him — every game. Or when those Little Leaguers push him down.

"Once kids get in a pack, they think they're tougher than they are. The No. 1 rule is don't talk. But I get knocked down once or twice and have to say 'That's enough' and walk away," said Deas, 40, who works for the city of Clearwater as a customer service representative when he's not entertaining the crowds at Clearwater Threshers baseball games.

But he has never reached his limit. For 13 seasons, Deas has slapped palms and hugged innumerable children. Since 2006, he has embodied Phinley. Before Deas, the job turned over each year — high school or college kids handled the contests, schmoozed the suites and made the peanut-crunching rounds of the grandstand.

Deas grew up near Dayton, Ohio. He was a high school mascot — Weebe the Elk — but after moving to Clearwater he started to jones to don an itchy costume.

As Phinley, Deas makes $15 an hour. Not bad for seasonal work in a game he loves.

But the icing on that cake? That would be winning's Best Mascot in Minor League Baseball contest.

Last year, Deas made the final four before losing to Orbit, the mascot of the Albuquerque Isotopes, the Triple A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

This year, he wants the belt. But first, he must best the other 11 mascots in the Florida State League, a rogue's gallery that includes variations of a manatee, a hammerhead shark and a cuddly pirate.

After working the phones all day answering Clearwater residents' questions, keeping mum has its perks.

"I talk all day," Deas said, "so it's nice to put on a suit and not have to talk to anybody."

To vote for Phinley, go to and click on "Florida State League" or tweet a vote using #mascotmania and the @threshers handle by noon on Thursday.

Charlie Frago can be reached at or (727) 445-4159. You can follow him on Twitter @CharlieFrago.

Voting for Phinley

To vote for Phinley, go to

mania and click on "Florida State League" or tweet a vote using #mascot

mania and the @threshers handle by noon Thursday.

Threshers' Phinley itching for mascot title 07/30/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 31, 2013 12:14pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tampa moves to pause permits for 5G wireless equipment to assess impact of new Florida law


    To business groups, the bill that Gov. Rick Scott signed Friday will clear the way for superfast 5G wireless communications and give Florida an edge in attracting high-tech companies.

    Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and other local officials have worried that a new state law aimed at facilitating the installation of 5G wireless technology could clutter scenic corridors like Tampa's Riverwalk.
  2. Trump takes another swipe at CNN after resignations over retracted Russia story


    NEW YORK — President Donald Trump used the resignations of three CNN journalists involved in a retracted Russia-related story to resume his attack on the network's credibility Tuesday.

    Anthony Scaramucci, a senior adviser to President-elect Donald Trump, talks to reporters in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York. [Associated Press]
  3. Clearwater woman dies after losing control of SUV, flipping in Palm Harbor


    A Clearwater woman died early Tuesday morning when she lost control of her SUV and crashed in Palm Harbor, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

  4. Countryside alum A.J. Andrews lands in ESPN's annual body issue


    A.J. Andrews has taken over the spotlight in softball. Last year, the former Countryside High and LSU standout became the first female to win a Rawlings Gold Glove in the award's 59-year existence.

    Former LSU/Countryside softball player AJ Andrews, now w/ Akron, is the first female to win a Rawlings Gold Glove in the award's 59-year history. (Courtesy of Rawlings)
  5. Bill Nelson Video: Talk to this Florida mom before you call Obamacare a failure


    Sen. Bill Nelson spoke on the senate floor about the health care reform debate, sharing the story of a single Florida mother trying to keep alive her daughter, kindergarten teacher Megan Geller, who died at age 28 in 2015 after a two-year battle with leukemia.