PHILADELPHIA -- Fun-loving Marlins catcher Miguel Olivo, who has been tormenting the Phillie Phanatic for years, met the mascot without his costume during batting practice on Sunday, putting to rest years of good-natured 'acrimony' between the two.
"You're the best," Olivo said after hugging the Phanatic, sans his outfit, in front of the Marlins dugout.
Said the Phanatic: "Are you going to steal my keys today?"
Olivo's favorite prank: stealing the keys to the Phanatic's ATV, sending the furry green mascot into an animated panic.
"That's his gig," said Tom Burgoyne, the Phanatic's spokesman and 'best friend.' "He loves stealing the Phanatic's keys. He had the Phanatic kissing one of his teammates. In order to get the keys back, I had to kiss one of the teammates, and the Phanatic was disgusted by it. But he had to do it because the game was getting started and he had to get off the field."
Olivo has tried all sort of tricks to swipe the Phantic's keys. While with the Colorado Rockies in 2010, Olivo put the Phanatic in a headlock and tried to remove the mascot's head while a teammate grabbed the keys and took off.
Olivo said the Phanatic kept yelling, "Don't pull it off! Don't pull it off!"
The hijinks continued this series when, with rookie pitcher Jose Fernandez lending a helping hand, Olivo managed to get the Phanatic's keys again on Friday. Before Saturday's game, Olivo stood on the top step of the Marlins dugout and waved for the Phanatic to come over. The Phanatic shook his head side to side and refused to leave his ATV before hopping aboard, revving the engine, and zooming off.
"Every year I come here and mess with him," Olivo said. "That's why he not leave the (ATV)."
Olivo said there's no better mascot in the majors.
"Yesterday, when he danced the 'La Bamba,' I was in the dugout dying laughing," Olivo said. "My stomach hurt so hard I almost threw up. I just laugh like crazy. I've never seen a mascot make me laugh so much. He's number one."
Burgoyne said Olivo is one of the Phanatic's biggest tormenters. Others have included Joe Carter and Tommy Lasorda.
"The Phanatic, I think it's one of the things that sets him apart from some of the other mascots in that for all these years -- this is his 36th season -- that rapport with the players has been a big part of it," Burgoyne said.
Burgoyne said Olivo isn't the first Marlin to give the Phanatic a hard time.
"Chuckie Carr, he was a party waiting to happen," Burgoyne said of Carr, a member of the original 1993 Marlins. "He would come with the whipped cream. He pied the Phanatic on one occasion. Of course, Mark Kotsay is a guy who's been around the block. But when he was with the Marlins, the Phanatic stole one of his jerseys and put it on a dummy and did the whole thing. And Kotsay came out and ended up getting into it with the Phanatic right in the middle of the game, the fifth inning."