Living and growing up in San Diego, my grandpa would take me to San Diego Stadium to watch the Padres play. The team wasn’t good but the players were friendly and the games were always fun. 1974 was the first season I started attending games on a regular basis and it also marked the same year a young man in a costume would appear in my life. He would dance in the stands, walk through giving high 5’s to fans, and lead the fans in cheering for the San Diego Padres. That man was Ted Giannoulas – aka – The KGB Chicken.
Ted would attend events all over San Diego while representing KGB but my memories of him were at San Diego/Jack Murphy Stadium, always entertaining fans, making them laugh, signing autographs, taking pictures and always being friendly. Anyone who lived here in San Diego remembers 1978 when KGB fired him but he would arise bigger and better than before as The San Diego Chicken. He would appear all over the country bringing joy to fans of all teams and become the standard by which all mascots are measured today. He truly is an icon.
Skip forward to 2013 and another group of bloggers – Padres Public – did a segment for Padres and Pints where they interviewed The Chicken. I watched the interview and began to wonder about what he had done since 1992 when he left the Padres as their regular mascot. As I researched Ted Giannoulas, I came across a book called “From Scratch” by The KGB Chicken. I purchased a copy of the book on Amazon.com and started to read it and I thoroughly enjoyed reading about his career from 1974-1978, but once again, the glass was half-empty and I needed to fill it.
I decided that the only way to get the answers to my questions to go to the belly of The Chicken himself and ask. I decided to send him a copy of my book requesting he sign it to me and ask him for an interview for Padres360. I appealed to him as “a refined chicken” and that he might enjoy an interview over some wine out of costume at first so he could be relaxed. Two days later, my book was returned signed with his response. My hero said yes!
Rebecca didn’t grow up with The Chicken but she understood how much this meant to me and how much I wanted this interview to be right … maybe even the inspiration for my hero to write his autobiography. So we worked out the time for November 15, 2013 and the place would be at 50 Barrels Urban Winery. We spent the better part of a six hour drive to Arizona putting together the questions that would include what we thought people would want to know about this living legend.
We arrived an hour early for the interview at 50 Barrels where one of the owners, Denise Wells, was waiting for us. At the appointed time, Ted walked in, shook our hands and sat down and chatted a little bit before we got started. Denise opened wine for us and poured us a glass and then we turned our recorders and the interview started…
Rebecca took pictures of Ted during the interview, but it was impossible to get a facial shot as it always seemed liked something got in the way… he’s a tricky bird!
After 2 ½ hours, Ted changed into his new costume to allow us some great photo opportunities. Ted changed back into his street clothes, Denise gave him some wine to take home.
I hugged Ted and thanked him and we told him we hoped he would write a book for all of us fans out here who love him.
Thank you, Ted, for taking the time to talk to us. It was more than I ever dreamed it would be and it a memory I will cherish as long as I live. You have made this world a better place by being you and reminding us that hard work pays off. God Bless you and your family.
We have so much to share with everyone that we decided to make this a weekly feature: Tuesdays with Ted. Be sure to subscribe or check in each Tuesday to read all the amazing stories that Ted shared with us!
Wayne & Rebecca