Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Rays VP helps fans get the Trop rocking

Darcy Raymond calls Rays fans “the 10th man nation” to show just how crucial they are to the team.


Darcy Raymond calls Rays fans “the 10th man nation” to show just how crucial they are to the team.

ST. PETERSBURG — The man they call D-Ray worked until 2 a.m. Tuesday. Six hours later, he was back in his office above Tropicana Field taking phone calls.

Related News/Archive

No, they still haven't confirmed who is performing the national anthem.

No, they haven't figured out how many staffers to assign to the standing-room-only section.

The World Series was only 34 hours away and the Rays' vice president of fan experience still didn't know who was going to throw out the first pitch.

"I've got meetings all day," he said, "about everything."

• • •

Two years ago, Darcy Raymond was hired to rebrand Tampa Bay's struggling baseball team — and re-energize the few fans it had.

Today, when 42,000 baseball fanatics stream into the Trop, D-Ray will have overseen "everything they see, hear, touch, smell and taste."

"It won't be much different than what our fans have experienced during the rest of the playoffs," he said. "You gotta admit, it's been working."

• • •

In fall 2003, Raymond left his job at Proctor & Gamble, where he had helped introduce the Swiffer mop. He enrolled in Harvard Business School and met Brian Auld, who nicknamed him D-Ray — as in Darcy Raymond, not Devil Rays. "It was an A-Rod thing," he said, "first initial, shorten the last name."

Two years later, when Auld was recruited to be a Rays VP, he introduced his boss to his buddy D-Ray — and Rays executives hired Raymond to survey season ticket holders. "Only 46 percent of the people buying tickets were rooting for the Rays," he said.

In January 2006, the Rays asked Raymond to convert baseball fans to Rays fans and to bring a new crop to the Trop: people who didn't know much about baseball.

He implemented theme nights: Tuesdays for retirees featured Elvis impersonators. Sundays meant kids could run the bases.

"If we were going to turn this team around," Raymond said, "we had to make the fans feel like part of the team."

He called the fans "10th man nation," the most important part of the roster. After asking ushers to identify the most enthusiastic cheerers, he started a group of 500 Maddon's Maniacs who meet between games and agree on new chants. Raymond coordinates their plans with the producer who runs the Trop's video screen. When they say, "Tampa!" the screen says "Bay!"

Blue disco wigs and cowbells. Pepsi bottle races and kiss cams. Carvel cup switches, trivia contests, Spot the Cow. Fans come to expect those segments, he said. The promotions become part of the fabric of the field.

Major League Baseball won't allow local branding for the World Series, so Raymond spent Tuesday trying to figure a way to have bottle races without the labels and kisses without e-Harmony's endorsement.

• • •

About 11 a.m. Tuesday, Rays president Matt Silverman ducked his head into Raymond's office. "We got it," he said. "Bob Stewart is going to throw out the first pitch."

"Mr. Baseball?" Raymond asked, referring to the Pinellas County commissioner.

He wrote himself a note, crossed that off his to-do list. Only 33 hours until the big show.

Lane DeGregory can be reached at or (727) 893-8825.

Rays VP helps fans get the Trop rocking 10/21/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 21, 2008 9:52pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. No. 21 USF Bulls roll over Temple to stay undefeated


    TAMPA — They emerged from Raymond James Stadium's southwest tunnel on the 11-month anniversary of their public humiliation at Temple.

    Bulls tailback Darius Tice, who rushes for 117 yards, is elated by his 47-yard run for a touchdown in the second quarter for a 10-0 lead.
  2. Fennelly: USF thrashes Temple to stay unbeaten; too bad not many saw it in person



    No. 21 USF ran its record to 4-0 Thursday night with some payback against Temple, a 43-7 trouncing, no contest, as if anyone cares, at least judging by the paltry crowd at Raymond James Stadium. Where was everybody?

    Bulls cornerback Deatrick Nichols (3) celebrates with teammates after making a defensive play during the first half.
  3. Former Ray Tim Beckham's over being traded, or is he?

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — As the Rays reunited Thursday with Tim Beckham for the first time since he was dealt July 31 to Baltimore, it became very clear that not everything in assessing the trade is as it appears.

    Tim Beckham, here in action Monday against the Red Sox, has hit .310, with 10 homers and 26 RBIs since going to the Orioles.
  4. Bucs probe how to fix deep-ball chances missed vs. Bears


    TAMPA — It was only minutes after the Bucs had demolished the Bears 29-7 Sunday when quarterback Jameis Winston tried one final time to connect with receiver DeSean Jackson.

    QB Jameis Winston says he’s focused on the deep-ball chances to DeSean Jackson he missed in the opener: “We left a lot out there.”
  5. Rays journal: Ugly first inning dooms Andriese, Rays against Orioles (w/video)

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — Rays manager Kevin Cash said before Thursday's game that RHP Matt Andriese was among the pitchers who would most benefit from a strong finish to the season.

    Matt Andriese has a tough first: hits to four of first five batters, leading to three runs, the only ones he gives up in six innings