Raymond D Ray
Since the Tampa Bay Rays are not playing until this evening, it gives me some time to have fun with my blog today and maybe get deep and into one of the real characters of the Rays family. For years people have wondered aloud and in their own minds as to the origins and the reasons for the fluffy blue mascot of the Rays. Even during the radio broadcast on MLB.com yesterday, the Houston Astros announcers were discussing Raymond D Rays, the official mascot of the team. They were discussing how in 2008, radio broadcaster Dave Raymond had his picture taken with the “Big Blue One.”
With their mention of Raymond, I thought it might be fun to get back into the origins and the make up of this entertaining and animated of the Rays. There is a wide spread rumor that the Rays scouts went out on a fishing expedition prior to the 1998 season and spotted a weird but highly energetic creature playing out in deep of the Gulf of Mexico waters.
The amused scouts had just begun eating their lunch of boiled hot dogs and sodas when a blue-hued creature was seen swimming towards the boat at a high rate of speed. The creature, being the sea-actor that he was started to mimic and provide antics that the scouts found funny and entertaining. They rewarded him with unlimited hot dogs and chips. During all of the excitement it dawned on one of the scouts to entice the blue one to come back to Tropicana Field and become the team’s first mascot. The decided to use a piece of the teams name to bring his persona into reality for fans to enjoy. they decided after a few hours of throwing around names that Raymond was the perfect name for this creature.
They then tried to persuade the blue one to leave his lifestyle of frolic and mayhem out in the middle of the Gulf to entertain fans and kids at their new ballpark for their expansion team. The scouts, who have been getting prospects to sign for years had the right incentives to entice Raymond to work with the team. With the promise of all the hot dogs he could eat, all the high fives and belly wiggles he could stand, the scouts brought back Raymond for the rest of the Rays front office to enjoy. they also were quickly amused and loved the belly wiggling and dances that he pulled off with the radio being on in someone’s office. It was decided then and their that Tampa Bay had found their perfect mascot.
Raymond’s animal-like appearance causes confusion among fans of all ages. His fuzzy face is similar to a walrus and his bulbous blue belly likens him to a mutant manatee. So what exactly is he? In 2005, scientists from Sarasota’s Mote Marine Institute made a startling discovery; Raymond is actually a previously undiscovered species of dog known as “Canus Manta Whatthefluffalus” or in layman’s terms, a Seadog. It common among these canines to show resemblances to all the traits of normal landlubber dogs. They also enjoy going for walks, playing with kids, and fetching. Unlike other dogs they are almost six feet tall, walk upright, are royal blue in color. Some people have been quoted as thinking he is a product of Big Bird and Papa Smurf having a love affair on the Love Boat and Raymond fell overboard during the trip.
While other dogs live on land, Seadogs usually live in or around the water. And now living in the St. Petersburg area, he has water on three sides of the city in which he is living. Seadogs have been known for their fun-loving nature and silly pranks, their true passion for baseball, and general good looks of a sea mammal. But one of things that quickly became part of his personality was his ability to use sarcasm and prat falls to evoke smiles and laughs from his new fans. Raymond finally got to meet his new fans as he was introduced on the field before the June 21, 1998 game. He emerged from his egg on the third base line and the Rays fans have not been the same ever since.
His routines of using his ATV before games to tease and chat with other players, and his ability to mock and imitate both security guards and players has made him a fan favorite at Rays games. But early in 2001 he began to learn some new motor skills and began to sew new costumes and mild props for his adventures during the game. Who will forget his first costume as a superhero named “Rally Rays”, who was called out in the bottom of the ninth inning to pump up the crowd and the team to bring a victory to the Rays. But with his new found love of the Rays he got to enjoy the company of other mascots around the league. He became great friends with Wally the Green Monster and Ace, the mascot of the Toronto Blue Jays.
He even was invited to their stadiums for events concerning their mascots, and they came to the Trop. to be with the fun-loving blue-hued creature. with his new found fame, he did not let it go totally to his big head. He began to be more community oriented and visited countless hospital wards around the Tampa Bay area to make children smile and to take endless amounts of photos with parents and kids alike. His personality grew, and so did the reason we all loved Raymond. It was feared that in November 2007, when the Rays dropped the “devil” from their names that R
aymond’s day might be numbered, but the team renewed their faith in him by issuing him a new logo jersey with his trademark “00″ number on the back.
Raymond has been a part of the Rays since their inception. He is a small part of the fun and adventure that being a Rays fan encompasses when you enter Tropicana Field. One of the first things you see when you stroll down right field street is his small alcove where cartoon videos play all the time, and mascot bobbleheads line one wall.
As long as the Rays keep up their promise of unlimited hot dogs and a few cold beverages, Raymond will still come out and entertain the masses and tease the opponents team fans in the stands. Some people think that mascots are not good for the game of baseball and take away from the action and the atmosphere. I think he actually heightens the energy level and entices the crowd to cheer and make noise throughout the game. Him just walking into a room can make a child run towards him for a huge hug, or even a photo opportunity. Raymond is not only a part of the team’s name, he is part of the culture of Tampa Bay, and its fans, and hopefully we will get to enjoy him for a long, long time.