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1984: Love that Crazy Crab

Fans took the idea of a mascot you love to hate to an extreme.

The '70s may have brought us bell bottoms and disco, but they also saw the beginnings of the mascot craze in professional baseball. In 1984, the Giants decided to try their hand at the mascot game, but with their own special twist: They created an "anti-mascot."

The creature they unleashed was the now-legendary (and infamous) Crazy Crab. The idea was to poke fun at traditional mascots, and television commercials depicted manager Frank Robinson having to be restrained from attacking the poor crustacean. Fans were encouraged to boo and hiss the phony mascot, who was portrayed by actor Wayne Doba.

The prodding worked all too well. With a 96-loss season soothing no souls, Crazy Crab became the object of hatred and abuse. The crowd would hurl all sorts of things at the beast, both verbally and literally, and even players got into the act, dumping drinks and other things into the suit.

Broadcasters Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper, both players during the year of Crazy Crab, were asked in an online chat if they ever had trouble with him. Their response: "No, we used to drill him with the resin bag daily, so he was scared of us."

Catcher Steve Nicosia once donned the suit while he trashed the volatile Jeffrey Leonard's locker. While playing the Crab, Doba was even tackled by a San Diego Padres player and ended up filing a lawsuit against the team for back injuries.

On the final day of the 1984 season, as he stood on the field in the suit before the game, Doba reportedly told a Giants executive, "I hope there's nobody up there with a gun."

The nightmare for the bug-eyed object of foam derision ended after just one season. The Giants would not attempt another mascot, "anti" or real, until 1997, when Lou Seal made his cautious debut. But no mascot will likely ever again as sharply define the term "love-hate" as the vaunted Crazy Crab.

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