By Patrick Hruby
Page 2

Former Phillie Phanatic Dave Raymond discusses the arc of his career, from Phillies intern to Mascot Hall of Fame inductee:

On becoming the Phanatic:
"I wanted to teach and coach, do what my dad [Harold 'Tubby' Raymond, former University of Delaware coach and a College Football Hall of Fame member] did. I was playing for him as a punter at Delaware and working as a lifeguard at the university pool during summers.

"He said, 'Don't waste your time. I can help you get a Phillies job as a team intern. You never know who you'll meet.' It sounded great. I loved the Phillies, and in 1976 they had the All-Star Game, so I had a million things to do.

"Stuffing envelopes. But the next summer, there was virtually nothing.

"So when they called in 1978, I thought they were going to tell me they didn't have a job for me. The team secretary, who I knew, said, 'David, I'll put Frank [Sullivan, the team's promotion director] on the phone. But I'm telling you, whatever you do, say NO.'

"He asked me if I would be the Phanatic. …

"The Phillies had Jim Henson design the costume. They invested $4,000 in it. That was scads of money at the time. Nobody knew how fans would react. I didn't know if I had any aptitude for this. I just thought that getting into this green Muppet suit would show how dedicated I was. …

"I think fans adopted the Phanatic because he wasn't expected or shoved down their throats. And I was a Philadelphia fan myself. I knew they were sarcastic. I liked slapstick humor. I was having so much fun. I was in shape, so heat wasn't a problem."

On his rivalry with the San Diego Chicken:
"In 1979, my second year, Bill Giles hired the Chicken to come out and perform with the Phanatic. I thought, great. I'll be able to watch him and talk to him, learn from him. So Ted [Giannoulas, who plays the Chicken] runs out during the pregame, throws rubber chickens all over the field. Then he graphically humps Mary Sue Stiles -- the famous blonde ballgirl -- and it brought the house down.

"All the media wrote it as 'The Chicken stole the show.' But the thing I remember -- and I guarantee that Ted will never, ever admit this -- is that his handler came up to me after the game and said, Hollywood-agent style, 'You know kid, you're very, very good. Ted is impressed with you. We think you have a future. We want you to come out and be his backup in San Diego.'

"I thought that was kind of pompous. Ted came off as a Hollywood guy. I couldn't relate to him. I was happy where I was. But there's no question we had a rivalry going after that. One year Sports Illustrated said the Chicken was out and the Phanatic was in. Tim McCarver said the Phanatic was the best mascot in baseball. The players on the West Coast teams were always like, 'You're good and all, but you're no Chicken.' I wanted them to go back and tell the Chicken the same thing about me."

On Tommy Lasorda:
Two things pissed Dave Raymond off -- one, the Dodgers beat the Phillies; two, Tommy was really a Philly guy, but he shed his skin to be Mr. Los Angeles. He had pictures with Frank Sinatra on his wall. Everyone hated that. The Phanatic called him out on that stuff. And Tommy could be phony.

"In 1980, I went to Japan on an All-Star tour after the Phillies won the World Series. One time during pregame, I was standing in the dugout near Tommy -- I wasn't in costume -- and he was talking to Bill Madlock from the Pirates. Tug McGraw was also on the team. He was my closest friend among the players. So Tommy sees Tug and is all, 'Hey! Hey Tug!' Very friendly. Then Tug walks away and Tommy says, 'That little Punch and Judy, he shouldn't be in the majors.'

"He and Madlock go on to make fun of him. They're serious.

"I told Tug about it. The next season, the Phillies are playing Pittsburgh. Madlock comes up. McGraw is relieving. Tug beans him. Madlock is like, 'What the f--- are you doing?' Tug just points. I was like, 'Oh s---, he aimed for his head!' But I knew exactly why it happened …

"After Tommy attacked me [in 1988], the next inning I got on top of the Phillies' dugout. I had the Tommy doll in one hand, a pizza in the other. I'm stuffing his face with pizza, then smacking him. … The next day, I'm getting calls from the L.A. media. Tommy attacked me in the papers! Said I was bad for kids!

"I didn't want to get in a war of words. The next time the Dodgers came in, I sent him a pasta dinner from a favorite place and a note that said, 'I'm sorry.' I went down to see him after the game. I asked him if he got the dinner.

He said, 'Yeah. The sauce was overdone. Anything else?'"

On the enduring appeal of his job:
"It's a release from who you are. It has its own energy. If you're doing it right, you're taking on another personality. You can get away with things you can't otherwise. You can go up and hug people, anyone you want. You can go anywhere, nobody stops you. Even in this day and age of terrorism, you could probably walk right through airport security in a mascot costume."

On his legacy:
"Sports Illustrated once had a famous quote from my dad: 'I used to be famous as a football coach. Now I'm known as the father of a green transvestite.'"

Patrick Hruby is a columnist for Page 2. Sound off to Page 2 here.