Phanatic's mechanic is local dealership
nLancaster Honda sold Phillies mascot his ATV and services it each off season. BY TIM MEKEEL, Business Editor
Phillies fans such as David Moore have watched the antics of the Phillie Phanatic for decades.
But Moore has a reason to pay special attention to one particular part of the oversized, furry green mascot's routine.
His business, Lancaster Honda, provided the Phanatic with one of his signature props, a four-wheel Honda ATV.
"It's not about me. It's about the Phillie Phanatic," said Moore on Tuesday.
Moore's ties to the Phanatic and his ATV date to 1978, when the Phanatic debuted in Veterans Stadium, then the Phillies' ballpark.
At the time, Moore worked at the now-defunct Delaware Cycle Center in Newark, Del.
A frequent visitor was Harold "Tubby" Raymond, then the University of Delaware's football coach.
Raymond's son Dave, then a Phillies intern, was the first Phillie Phanatic.
And when Dave got the idea of having the Phanatic scoot around the field, he turned to Delaware Cycle Center for help.
The dealership and Honda Motor Co., both eager for the exposure, split the cost of a three-wheel all-terrain cycle to give to the Phanatic.
Later, the Delaware dealership eventually closed and the Phanatic's account switched to West Chester Honda.
The West Chester store, owned by a business partner of Moore's, closed in the mid-1980s as well.
Lancaster Honda, which Moore and his wife, Diane, had bought in 1983, then picked up the Phanatic's business.
The Phanatic no longer gets his transportation for free.
Lancaster Honda has sold the massive mascot his last two all-terrain vehicles.
They include his current ride, a TRX 250 four-wheel ATV sold to the Phanatic in 2003.
Moore doesn't recall the price, but he said a new TRX 250 today carries a suggested retail price of $5,149.
Lancaster Honda customized it for free, however.
"I just wanted it to be a cool machine that people would enjoy, to help make the Phanatic popular," said Moore.
The Dairy Road dealership added special lights, a hand shift with a baseball knob (because the Phanatic's shoes are too big to allow shifting by foot) and a kill switch (so opposing players and coaches who hijack the ATV can't operate it).
Lancaster Honda also replaced the standard ATV tires and rims with passenger-car tires and rims.
That way, when the Phanatic cruises across the field at the Phillies current home, Citizens Bank Park, the natural grass is unscathed.
(Tearing up turf was not a problem at the long-gone Veterans Stadium because its field was artificial turf.)
The Phanatic's 10-year-old ATV requires minimal maintenance, according to Moore.
Every spring, Moore fetches it in Philadelphia, brings it back here for an oil change, engine tuning and check up, and returns it.
He provides the service at cost.
"They last a long time," said Moore. "It's one of the joys of owning a Honda."
Lancaster Honda's role in the Phanatic's act is low key. The only sign of it is the dealership's logo on the sides and nose of the ATV.
According to Moore, the Phanatic's ATV has never broken down. It did shut off surprisingly once, however.
Dave Raymond's successor and current Phanatic Tom Burgoyne didn't know what went wrong. So he called Moore for help.
Moore drove to Philadelphia, immediately saw what the problem was -- and simply filled the ATV's gas tank.
Moore, 64, is a native of the Philadelphia area and a lifelong fan of its sports teams. The Phillies hold a special spot in his heart.
Moore, who attended Friends Central School in Wynnewood with two daughters of the late Phillie Richie Ashburn, a Hall of Fame centerfielder, hopes for big things from the team in 2013.
"I'm always optimistic," he said. "I'm a sales guy."