DES MOINES — Ted Giannoulas’s arrival was delayed four-plus hours; some of his luggage had not arrived. Now, in a brightly lit, empty drive-through restaurant outside of downtown, he savored a double burger as closing time neared. It was a late Sunday night in early August. The surrounding suburban strip malls offered little for sale but boredom.
The next day promised to be better. Men will want to shake his hand. Women will want to marry him. Children will want to take him home.
The San Diego Chicken will have a crowd.
Giannoulas, who turned 63 this month, has spent 42 years as perhaps the most influential mascot in sports history. Geoff Belinfante, a former executive producer with Major League Baseball Productions, said he believed Giannoulas’s riotous antics in the 1970s spurred other teams to create their own mascots.