For the past six years, Billy Cub has been part of the landscape of the Friendly Confines, strolling the grounds outside Wrigley Field for 10 hours a day during 81 home games. The unofficial Chicago Cubs mascot is the creation of John Paul Weier, who says Billy gets a great reception from fans. They take lots of pictures with him and sometimes give him kisses.
"You get to see the smiles and the reactions from people. It's really worth it," Weier said.
But now, Weier says, Billy Cub is getting the kiss-off from the Cubs. They are one of three Major League baseball teams without a mascot. And they want to keep it that way.
"MLB sent me a cease-and-desist letter, and that was the first time it ever crossed my attention that I was not wanted out on the streets, and what I was doing was not appreciated by the organization," Weier said.
The 100-page letter dated last fall cites allegations of trademark infringement. Weier says he has since taken off any official logos from Billy Cub's costume. The letter comes after the Cubs organization says it received complaints from fans about Billy Cub.
"Some of these complaints include reports of 'Billy Cub' characters engaging in offensive, harassing or racially-charged behavior," said spokesperson Jason Green.
Weier says other people have occasionally filled in for him and worn the costume and has apologized for any offensive behavior on their part. Still, he says, his chance for being hired by the Cubs as the official team mascot looks unlikely.
"It's just taking away my dream that I've devoted to the last seven years. Whether I'm the official mascot or not, I'd like to continue what I've been doing," Weier said.
Weier says the Cubs offered to buy him out if he agreed to sign over all rights to the character and stop performing outside the ballpark. But he has refused.