Opening Day for the Tampa Bay Rays is this Friday, and you know Rays mascot Raymond will be roaming the stands. But what exactly is he?
I went to Spring Training with the big, blue guy to find out.
Why do they call him Raymond?
He's funny, he's sly, he's huggable, and he's really blue. But what... is he?
I asked him as we roamed through the stands at Charlotte Sports Park.
Between stops to hug and high-five fans, he gestured the letter "C" -- meaning "sea" and then wagged an imaginary tail and barked, like a "dog."
Raymond's a sea dog -- in this case, that's a dog that lives in the sea. The story goes that a group of executives from Tampa Bay's new baseball team were out on a fishing trip in the Gulf of Mexico back in the late 1990's.
Splashing around out there in the water, Raymond was attracted by the smell of grilling hot dogs on their boat. The folks from the then-Devil Rays fed him a frank, and decided Raymond would be a great mascot for their new ball club.
Raymond the character has been with the team since day one, fourteen years ago -- even though there have been a few changes with folks behind the scenes.
And he's always been blue, even though the team's colors were not blue until 2008.
Legend has it those fishermen who found this canine of the deep created his name Raymond from the team's name, the Devil Rays.
He does more than just bound through the bleachers; Raymond makes big blue appearances at 200-plus community events each year.
Sure, he has some issues with authority figures -- playfully taunting umpires and distracting opposing players.
But this sea dog is really all about being everybody's best friend.
Why do they call it that? Now you know.
Raymond will be part of our live coverage of Tampa Bay Rays Opening Day on Friday!
He'll join me live during The Morning Show as we broadcast from the turf at Tropicana Field.
All day Friday on 10 News, we will get you ready for a new season of Rays baseball. And that starts with The Morning Show, beginning at 5 a.m.
We feature new "Why do they call it that?" stories each Wednesday on 10 News at 5 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Check out previous editions of the Emmy-nominated series at our "Why do they call it that?" website: wtsp.com/callitthat.
Grayson Kamm, 10 News