Likes: Rays baseball, belly dancing, hugs, hot dogs, doing flips, full contact shuffle board, poodle shaving, extreme chess, reading, and KIDS!
Dislikes: Hairballs, taking baths, getting nacho cheese in his fur, falling off walls.
In early 1998, Rays scouts on a fishing trip in the Gulf of Mexico spotted a strange looking animal. The creature, apparently drawn to the boat by the smell of hotdogs on the hibachi, climbed aboard and soon won the scouts over with his silly antics. During the excitement, a scout had a brilliant idea: make this fun loving fuzz ball the mascot for the new baseball team. "Raymond" as the scouts dubbed him, immediately accepted their contract offer of all the hotdogs he could eat, all the high fives he could handle, and the ability to shake his groove thing to countless Tampa Bay fans.
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 marine biologists and zoologists 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. Seadogs have all the traits of normal dogs. They enjoy going for walks, playing with kids, and fetching. Unlike other dogs they are five to six feet tall, walk upright, are blue in color, and chase catfish. While other dogs live on land, Seadogs usually live in or around the water. Seadogs are well known for their fun-loving nature, passion for baseball, and general good looks.
Grab your crayons and color Raymond. Click on the links below to download a larger black and white image of Raymond. Choose from three different images, or color all three!
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To know Raymond is to love him. The Rays mascot has entertained millions of fans at Rays games over the years and appeared at thousands of community events in the Tampa Bay area. Everyone knows Raymond. But does anyone really know Raymond -- behind all the antics and belly shaking? For the first time in his mascot career, Inside Pitch sat down with Raymond to discuss his life, love and pursuit of hot dogs.
*It is important to note that Raymond, of course, does not speak and therefore had to write all of his answers down.
INSIDE PITCH: I know you get this question a lot, and I'm sorry, but I have to ask because I want to find out from you directly -- what exactly are you?
RAYMOND: If I had a hot dog for every time someone asked me that, I would have ... well, I'd have a lot of hot dogs. I'm glad you asked though, so I can finally clear this up. I am not a Muppet, although I'm a big fan. I am not a giant fur ball, that's just ridiculous. I am, in fact ... a sea dog. (pauses) Can you give me a minute? I told myself I wouldn't cry. I just feel like I've been so misunderstood for so long ...
After a 22-minute delay due to Raymond's uncontrollable sobbing, he continues to pen his answer
I'm originally from the waters of Tampa Bay, and that's where the group of Rays scouts found me on their fishing trip that fateful day. It was tough to leave my family behind, but it was an opportunity I couldn't pass up-unlimited baseball and hot dogs.
INSIDE PITCH: Tell me about your childhood ...
RAYMOND: I grew up the youngest in my family-I have 27 sisters. My dad really wanted a boy, and he never gave up. I was actually a shy, quiet kid. I didn't feel comfortable in my own fur. I didn't even know how to dance. It wasn't until middle school that I started opening up. I had eaten too many hot dogs at a school dance one year and my belly starting aching so bad that it started shaking and jiggling. Everybody saw me doing it and thought it was a great new dance move. They started chanting, "Go Raymond, go Raymond!"
I've been dancing and entertaining crowds ever since. They say genius comes from the strangest of places. Mine came from my belly.
INSIDE PITCH: Reports surfaced years ago that Billy the Marlin was unhappy when you first debuted as the Rays mascot. What happened and have things been resolved?
RAYMOND: Oh, Billy, Billy, Billy. Things definitely started out rough. He finally gets his shot at the bigs in 1993, the Marlins win the World Series in '97 and he's riding high. Then the next year I sign with the Rays and start doing my thing, and I find out through the grapevine he's upset that I'm stealing his thunder. Apparently, a bunch of mascots were jealous that I jumped straight to the major leagues and didn't have to work my way through the minors. They didn't think I "paid my dues."
So Billy calls me one day huffing and puffing, and I asked him: "What do you want me to do-make my dance moves less awesome? Be less funny, entertaining and ruggedly handsome?" I mean, I can't turn this all off. It's who I am.
We didn't speak for a while after that. As I got older though, I realized I probably didn't handle the situation the best. I took a trip to see him in the offseason one year and we patched things up. We're good now. There's plenty of room in the Sunshine State for both Billy and I to shine bright-even if I shine just a teensy bit brighter.
INSIDE PITCH: People have noticed that during the Pepsi Bottle Race, you frequently intervene and attack the participants but never harm Sierra Mist. Is there something going on between you two?
RAYMOND: (turns red in embarrassment) Yeah, I guess you could say I have a thing for Sierra. She's a great girl. She's refreshing, she's sweet. I don't know, I guess I just find her bright, bubbly personality really refreshing. The only problem is that she's been hung up on Pepsi for years. She keeps saying he's "the right one, baby" but I don't see it.
INSIDE PITCH: Give me your thoughts on these mascots. Lou Seal (San Francisco Giants):
RAYMOND:Lou's a good friend. We're both from the sea, so we clicked. We also debuted around the same time. He told me he's thinking about copying Brian Wilson and growing his whiskers out. I told him that would not be "epic."
Stuff the Magic Dragon (Orlando Magic):
RAYMOND: Stuff is my boy. He throws these crazy pool parties with Dwight Howard, and Stuff's a master of the barbecue. Guy makes the best flame-broiled hot dog you have ever had.
The Famous Chicken:
RAYMOND: What can you say about him? He's a pioneer. I owe my entire career to that chicken.
Phillie Phanatic (Philadelphia Phillies):
RAYMOND: No comment.
INSIDE PITCH: You had a meteoric rise to stardom. Has that affected you?
RAYMOND: I'm still the same Raymond I always was. If I wore pants, I'd put them on one leg at a time just like everyone else. Sure, I have my assistants put the ketchup and mustard on my hot dogs now. And yes, I visit the spa daily to make sure I get that extra fur sparkle. And okay, maybe I push Rusty out of the way occasionally so I can get more face time on the jumbotron. But I'm still the sa ok, maybe I've changed a little. But one thing that has never changed: I love the Rays. And I love hot dogs. Two things.
You can ask Raymond a question! Just e-mail your query to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Raymond makes appearances at all occassions, including:
Because of his popularity, it is suggested that applicants submit requests at least four weeks prior to the event, allowing at least three weeks for the approval process. All requests are subject to availability, and blackout dates apply. Appearance fees range from $150-$250 an hour. Registered 501(c)3 charities are eligible for complimentary Raymond appearances, depending on the schedule. Raymond is not available on home game days. To request Raymond call 727-825-3314.