PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- It's the ultimate Philadelphia comeback story. The original Phillie Phanatic is back in action after taking a backseat for two baseball seasons to a comrade who looked like him.
"It's really exciting to have the original Phanatic. Really, really awesome. I know fans are excited," said Tom Burgoyne, best friend to the Phanatic.
The grand debut took place Wednesday at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society's Home Run for Trees event as many gathered to capture the moment.
"Part of the evolution, the Phanatic actually gained some weight, and his butt got a lot bigger," Burgoyne said. "Now that he's devolving, some of that weight has gone away."
The Phanatic saga goes back to 2020. The new-look involved flightless feathers rather than fur-colored arms, stars outlining the eyes, and a larger frame with a powder blue tail.
The legal dispute between the Philadelphia Phillies and the mascot's creator forced the team to give the beloved character an extreme makeover. But in the settlement, the original prevailed.
"The Phanatic went through some changes. He's a flightless bird, so he grew some extra feathers years ago, but it turns out he still can't fly, so those feathers went away," Burgoyne said.
Jack Braunstein added, "It's a new era, and it's time for some change with new energy from the Phanatic."
In this case, ultimately, nostalgia won. It's now why the beloved native from the Galapagos Islands is back in its original form.
"To see this reaction over the Phanatic really does re-emphasize that people love this character. I think they see a little bit of themselves in the Phanatic," Burgoyne added.