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David Raymond on Life as a Mascot
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In 1978 one Philadelphia Phillies intern was trying to show the team management that he was willing to do anything for the team. The Phillies were just looking for a 'stooge' to fill their new mascot costume. What they found was a sports entertainment legend.
Nearly 25 years later, David Raymond is still entertaining fans around the world and giving back to the business that didn't even exist when he started.
Now as Acme Mascot's Director of Fun and Games, David performs as the character Sport, creates new characters for teams and companies, teaches performers and strives to do things that others are not.
We are very pleased to have David join us for the May Interview.
Gameops.com: How did it happen that you started as the Phillie Phanatic?
David Raymond: I worked for the Phillies for 2 summers as an intern in 1976 and 1977. When the spring came around in 1978 I wasn't sure I was going to be back. One day while at school, I got a message to call the Phillies right away. I thought it was probably a call telling me that I wouldn't be back for the summer. Rather they needed me to come dress up in their new mascot costume.
They were looking for a stooge to fill this costume.
Gameops.com: And you were that Stooge?
Raymond: At the time I remember thinking it would be important to show the team management I would do anything for the team. I really wanted to work for the Phillies. My friends all thought I was crazy, most of them fearing for my safety knowing some of the fans in Philly.
My parents were really important in convincing me this would be a good opportunity. They both saw the potential of the character and thought there was a chance it could be really big.
Within 9 months the character had become a full-time position for me and my sole
responsibility for the team. I was getting paid $25 a game, but I really enjoyed being a part of the game and the Phillies.
Gameops.com: We could talk a long time about your time as the Phanatic, but let's fast forward to your final years and talk about why you left the Phillies.
Raymond: As the years passed on, I wondered what's next for me. I thought that I would like to have some type of ownership of the Phanatic, but I couldn't justify asking for it. I mean, there was no precedence for something like that. I really thought that I wanted to have a proprietary interest in a character moving forward.
In the early 1990's I also saw that a market for entertainment acts was starting to grow in the minors. Acts were starting to find significant opportunities during the summer. I enjoyed performing for these teams and decided that I wanted to pursue a character separately from the Phillies.
Gameops.com: Was it hard to leave the Phillies and the Phanatic?
Raymond: It was difficult. The biggest part was leaving the friendships I had there. Also you leave behind the equity you have spent time building. You also leave behind "being somebody" in Philly. For example, it's a lot easier for "the Phanatic" to get tickets to a Flyers game than it is for David Raymond (laughs).
So after the 1993 World Series we created Sport and Acme Mascots. Overall it was worth the sacrifice. I now had the chance to perform in front of all new fans.
Gameops.com: Talk about Acme Mascots. Who are you working with and what does Acme Mascots do?
Raymond: Acme Mascots includes the costumers, Wade Harrison and Bonnie Erickson. They are famous for their world-class costume designs which include the Phanatic, Hugo the Hornet, Stuff (Orlando-NBA), KC Wolf (KC-NFL) and of course, Sport.
Acme Mascots builds character branding programs. We are able to build a character from scratch, reinvigorate old characters, find performers for characters, and assist in merchandise development.
We are mascot development, soup to nuts. No one else can offer the full complement of services that we do.
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