Messenger - Vol. 3, No. 3, Page 17
Spring 1994
Alumni Profile
Former Phanatic sports new image

     After 16 glorious seasons of mischief and rip-roaring, crowd-
pleasing pranks, David Raymond, Delaware '79, the man, if you will,
behind the protruding snout of the Phillie Phanatic, has hung up his
size 20 Phanatic shoes.
     Raymond's successful stint as a professional mascot began when he
was still a student at the University, six credits shy of receiving
his bachelor's degree in physical education. While playing on the
football team for his father, Blue Hens head coach Harold R. "Tubby"
Raymond, he came to know R.R.M. Carpenter Jr., longtime trustee and
University benefactor, who was then president of the Philadelphia
Phillies and for whom the Bob Carpenter Sports/Convocation Center on
campus is named.
     "I began working for the Phillies on a part-time basis over the
summer months, stuffing press packets and doing other odds and ends
for the team," Raymond says. He says he felt right at home with the
Phillies' "family" from the start.
     Enter Frank Sullivan, director of promotions for the Phillies,
with a creative job proposition for Raymond: Wear a furry, green
costume and frolic around the ballpark in the name of entertainment.
"He described the mascot as best he could over the phone, but it was
hard to picture what he was talking about without seeing it," Raymond
     Sullivan told Raymond that the mascot wasn't a clown. It was more
of a fluffy, fun-loving, life-sized character, similar to a Jim Henson
muppet. In fact, the amiable, fat Phanatic had been designed by
Harrison & Erickson, a New York company with experience in creating
characters for the Children's Television Workshop. While working with
Henson, Bonnie Erickson created Miss Piggy.
     However, Raymond wasn't sure how Phillies fans would take to such
a Phanatical sight, considering that, previously, the fans actually
booed Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny off the field. The Phillies
team members themselves feared a huge public relations gaffe. The
question was: Would the cute and cuddly mascot flop in the eyes of the
     To add to the uncertainty, Raymond wasn't exactly sure of what to
do once he was in the costume. "I knew that I had to develop a
character with the Phanatic, but that doesn't happen quickly. It took
about a year to fully develop a personality," he says. And, whenever
he planned a staged, sure-to-get-a-laugh stunt, it would backfire.
     "I would try to plan out funny things for the audience, and, of
course, they never worked out. By accident, I would fall over a
railing, and people would laugh hysterically. Ninety-five percent of
the time, the things that worked out were never planned. They just
     Raymond honed the Phanatic's persona by watching Warner Brothers'
cartoons, Charlie Chaplin films and episodes of The Three Stooges.
Eventually, he perfected his naughty personality, using pantomime and
     "The Phanatic turned into a hyper, intense Phillies fan who was
very much like a child, very naive," he explains. "The Phanatic never
meant to get into any trouble; he just wanted to enjoy himself and
make people laugh."
     The fans started getting used to the 300-pound mascot making
mischief, ruffling feathers and teasing cranky managers and fans. In
fact, the crowd looked forward to the crazy, unpredictable Phanatic,
and Raymond felt a solid rapport building among the team, the fans and
the mascot. "I related to them all-the players, little kids, bald
guys, beautiful women-the Phanatic became a part of me," he says.
     According to a recent story on Raymond's retirement in the
Wilmington, Del., News Journal, Bill Giles, the current Phillies
owner, said he picked Raymond for the job "because he was a
wisecracking, animated, athletic smart-aleck. A big kid."
     Most memorable from Raymond's 16 seasons was the celebratory
parade down Broad Street in Philadelphia after the Phillies defeated
the Kansas City Royals to win the 1980 World Series. The Phanatic
wound up with his own 18-wheel, flat-bed truck to dance around on.
     Another experience that sticks out in Raymond's mind occurred on
home turf when the Blue Hens played Villanova at Delaware Stadium. "I
think it was in 1979 when I made a cameo appearance at half-time on my
three-wheeler that I drove around in front of 20,000 people," says
Raymond. "I drove out when the Villanova Marching Band was performing,
jumped off my bike and started bumping into the band members on the
field. Everyone loved it."
     Everyone, that is, except for an irate assistant band director
who wrote a letter to the editor the next day, insisting that the
Phanatic "ruined the performance and should apologize to everyone
     As a former football player, Raymond had always loved marching
bands because they help raise team spirit before a game. "I spoke to
the band the next day up on the podium and everyone understood it was
all in fun. They had a great time," he says.
     Yet, choreographers and band directors continue to be the
Phanatic's nemesis. At a Dodgers' game in California, a band director
tried to accost the mascot, chasing him through tubas and trumpets on
the field. "I know what it's like to be a sensitive person," Raymond
says, "but I also can see the humor in any situation."
     Despite all the fun and fervor, Raymond recently decided it was
time to move on. "I have taken the Phanatic as far as I can," he says.
"When you get into the suit and switch to auto-pilot, you know it's
time to do something different."
     Raymond and his business partners, Wayde Harrison and Erickson,
who designed the Phanatic, have established a sports entertainment
company that will provide mascots to entertain at all sporting events,
including golf. Raymond's new signature mascot is called Sport and
features big, bright eyes, a plump tummy and a soft nose. Acme Mascots
expects to start scheduling bookings this spring.
     Although a new person is filling the over-sized Phanatic's shoes,
Raymond says he learned a lot from his years as a mascot. "If you can
focus in on the good times, if you can laugh about something, even
though you know that life is tough, that's what it's all about," he
                                         -Gayle McCarthy, Delaware '92