It turns out that old adage about not poking a bear rings true for cuddly mascot bears, too.
A YouTube video posted Saturday shows a man dressed as “Billy Cub,” an unofficial mascot of the Chicago Cubs, punching a patron in a bar after he removes the head of the costume.
John Paul Weier, the man who has been playing the role of “Billy Cub” for the last six years, says the costumed man seen in the video is his brother, Patrick Weier who frequently fills the role.
Weier says his brother was being harassed by the patron long before the video footage began. He said the man was punching his brother in the back, shoving him into the bar and continued to poke and hit him until his brother confronted the man.
He said the man left, but came back shortly after and removed the costume’s head.
“It’s obviously not good publicity. You never want anything like this to happen, but from what I’ve read online it seems like people understand that the guy was antagonizing [my brother],” Weier said. “It wasn’t something he was looking to do.”
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Renae Kondrat, who filmed the video, said two intoxicated men were antagonizing the mascot at Wrigleyville bar John Barleycorn.
Kondrat and her friends were taking pictures with "Billy Cub" when the incident started.
She said one man was taken out of the bar when he became too rowdy, but that a second man continued to tease the mascot before taking off his head.
"A drunk guy threw himself into [Billy Cub] and I happened to have my camera so I started recording and it all happened real fast," she said. "I wasn't surprised. You're not supposed to take off the mascot's head, everybody knows that."
This isn’t the first time a “Billy Cub” character has had issues with fans.
“We have received complaints from fans, mistakenly believing ‘Billy Cub’ to be associated with the Cubs,” Green said in a statement.
Green cited complaints that two years ago, a Billy Cub character swore at a patron and used an ethnic slur, because of an inadequate tip. On another occasion, a Cubs employee claimed to have witnessed a “prolonged verbal altercation” between Billy and another fan, again over the size of a tip.
“This behavior is wholly inconsistent with the enjoyable fan experience we try to create at Wrigley Field,” Green said.
Weier said the complaints mentioned by the team didn’t involve him, however, and noted that he has severed relations with the employee who was wearing the costume on those days.
The Cubs and “Billy Cub” have battled over the mascot title for some time, until the Cubs unveiled an official mascot dubbed “Clark the Cub.”
Citing allegations of trademark infringement, the League sent Weier a 100-plus page letter, ordering him to stop wearing the Billy Cub costume, and engaging in “unabated Mascot Activities.”
"They can threaten legal action, it’s once they finally take legal action that’s kind of a different story," Weier said. "I’m willing and prepared to go to court and try to defend myself over what I’ve built over the last seven years."
Weier says he has no intention of stopping his role as "Billy Cub."
"We'll have a little mascot competition now," he said. "There hasn't been an official mascot yet, and now we've got an official mascot and an unofficial mascot. So, a little competition in Wrigleyville."