Maddon’s Maniacs Video Shoot



Man, even thought I have been down this street a million times in my life, when I hit 16th Street and 1st Avenue South in St. Petersburg and I can gaze up at that lop-sided pill of a roof, I know I am home. As giddy as getting near the stadium as I get every time I drive near it, the jelly-legs I got yesterday after almost what seems like an eternity to actually drive into the parking lot and walk up to the main entrance was amazing. I got there early just in case I wanted to do my usual sneaking around up on the third floor saying hello to old friends and just taking in the old stadium before the rest of the “Maddon’s Maniacs” got there for the video shoot.

As usual, Sean Liston, who is officially listed in the Rays front office description as the Coordinator of Fan Experience, could best be described as the wildest front office member in the MLB. I actually mean that in a good way. He reminded me of myself at 24, you might remember the feeling open to the world’s sarcastic and wild notions of fairness and irony, but also naive enough to know life can be a roller coaster with great results. I miss those times.  As he usually does when we first get together, he was instrumental in getting us motivated for the upcoming shoot, and also made sure we knew the process we were about to embark on, and that it will be time consuming to say the least.



Two years ago the “Maddon’s Maniacs” did their first video production with ex- WWE star Brain Knobs based on a loose adaptation of the movie “Braveheart”, in which he leads his band of warriors and warriorettes’ against the Red Sox and Yankees. I still get a great chuckle at the video. I will try and see if I can get my copy to upload today and link it on my blog for the rest of the world to enjoy too.  So as we stood there getting ready to go inside, you could see multiple painters and workers taping off and also removing tables and articles from all over the concourse floor. Liston advised us that the old floor color, the Rays green was going to be replaced throughout the stadium with the new traditional Rays blue, which is a color between the royal blue and marine blue on the Crayola color chart.

So because of this impending painting adventure, we had to walk around towards Gate 4, which is located at the SW corner of the stadium to enter without disturbing any painting or prep work on the floors. As we walked through the stadium exterior, we got to see the players’ cars down in the South lot, and a few people were trying to figure out who cars were in the lot. I knew who drove two of the cars, and pointed them out to a few people as we walked around the dome. When we finally reached the building entrance, we strolled in to a entrance way that was already decked out in the new colors and designs. Walking behind the home plate suites and party areas, we could see that they also were getting some renovations and paint changes this off season. But the wild part was the awesome paint design of the Rays blue followed by a yellow striping on the stadium entrance hallways that seemed to draw you into the stadium bowl.



Once inside the bowl, you got that giddy anticipation of excitement and anxiousness of the impending fun. We all walked down towards the bottom of the section that was located right behind the Visitor’s Bullpen area and took our seats in the first 6 rows of the section.  I did not even notice the number of the section, but I am going to guess we were in the 127-129 section of the seating bowl.  Again Liston was in there leading a few Rays cheers and getting the crowd worked up into a lather for the “Ground Rules” producer and staff waiting on us to all get seated for the shooting. It was then that I began to take in a wild view of the entire re-works and updates to the stadium since we last saw it after Game 2 of the 2008 World Series.



So as we sat there wondering how we might be utilized for the video we got word that this segment will be played before every home game in 2009. The video group that does the in-stadium entertainment for the games has only been with the Rays now for two seasons, but they have proven in the past to be a great addition to the Rays entertainment value with their awesome skits and video shorts during the 2008 season and playoff run.  About this time we also learned that the Rays were trying to formalize a Rays fans viewer party at a local wing joint. As we sat there, we were reminded that it might not be finalized today, but if it is, we would get information about it after the shoot. ( No news yet, but I will get it right to you if it breaks this weekend).



I am not going to bore you with all the rules we shot today, but a few of them are really funny, and I will have a few close-ups since they put me in the front row for the first segments of video shots. They also decided to give me a close-up during a foul ball segment based on my glove coming up, and the female director loved my blue eyes. Ahh, the Cal Ripken Jr. eyes do it again for the third year in a row. the Rays invited a local youth baseball league ( the Burg League ) to also be used as young fans and also give themselves some great publicity during the shoots.  But I have to tell you, that is why I was never a counselor at a camp or youth academy as a kid. Having 40 kids running around behind us all yelling for Raymond, who decided to pop out and show off his 2009 style and mannerisms to us today.



But in the end, after 4 hours of kids shuffling in their seats and multiple takes and angles on the video segments, we got to take a take our leave of this great stadium. As I was walking out we did the last take on a video segement to be sued during the ” Emergency” segment. But as I strolled out into the concourse, I was greeted by a huge Foggdog-type decal of B J Upton on the stadium inner walls. It seems that the Rays have placed these huge wall sized photo decals of their star players all over the blue wall of the stadium for the fans enjoyment this year. I loved seeing some of the great additions and the grounds keeping crew beginning to put the touches on the infield clay and foul lines.



But the wildest adventure of the year is the formal announcement that the “Maddon’s Maniacs” are now an official club of the Rays. From that first meeting with maybe 50-75 of us crammed in the upper area of what is now the second floor of the Ted William’s Museum, we have grown and grown daily to now take on guidance and leadership from MLB Advanced Media. That is the true test that you have made it, when the New York office of baseball leads your around the stumbles and the tumbles of becoming a great arm of the fan experience.

So before the games when they begin to play the “Ground Rules” up before the crowd in the stadium, I know I will get nervous every game. Now I have been a a few of these videos over the years, plus on the “First Pitch” cover, but now my big mug will be up there every game for the entire year/ I hope I do not embarrass the Rays or the “Maniacs” with my quirky looks and sarcastic expressions. But what I am most proud of is the fact that this small group of devoted fans has grown and grown so much that the team now had formulated them into a formal club like the “Golden Rays” or “Rays Rookies” organizations. It makes me so proud to know that the spirit and the passion of the fan’s has seen such an increase in the last 3 years. The sky is the limit, but knowing that the club is now officially a part of Rays baseball forever is the greatest gift for some of us today. The video is just icing on the cake, and I love cake!

Photo credits:  All photos are by RRCollections today.


Wow. Sounds like the Rays really have some great things planned for the fans – and you have a ringside seat for all of it! Love your description of walking up there with your “jelly legs.” I know the feeling exactly.

I hope we get to see the video sometime! Congrats to you and I LOVE the new photo up top! Have fun in Philly!


I can say this in true honesty here. I was crowned “Mr Lucky” when I was enshrined into the Fan Wall of Fame, but I do feel lucky every day I am at this ballpark.
I mean, I have been in places where most fans never see because of my work with the team as a Pepsi rep for 8 seasons, and got to go places on the 3rd floor most people see as windows.
I could go to the Pepsi suite any game, plus I had stashes of soda and drinks hidden in the suite for my use, and other Pepsi employees besides the one for the Suite members that night.
It has been a great ride, and we are only on our first time around the track.

Rays Renegade

When the season starts in a week for us at home, I will ask the stadium entertainment crew if I can get a DVD of it.
If and when I get a copy, it is going up on here without a problem.
That picture was a video outtake of Brian Knobs choking me out in the first part of the video that hit the scrape heaps. I actually like it!

Rays Renegade

Nice to see the Rays getting into it with the fans! Wish all the teams would do that!


the entire department in charge of that for the Rays is pretty young, and they have a huge amount of fun thinking of great stuff for us to experience during games and the season.
That is a huge plus for the fans, and they do not even know about most of it.
I would think every team would do the same, but sometimes that might not be an option, or an idea that has gotten to the top of the baseball food chain yet.

Rays Renegade

Even more reasons why I want to get to St. Pete!
I hope it works to get everyone into each game…baseball and fun…just goes together! Enjoy the fun, Renegade!

I always have fun at the ballpark chatting with my buddies on the Bullpen bench, or Scott Cursi, the Bullpen Catcher.
If you ever go to a game, he and I always chat for a few seconds before the game, and he does a hand gesture back to me before walking towards the dugout after the game. I treasure that, and he knows it.
Great guy and even better atmosphere for baseball.

Rays Renegade

Man Rays you are THE man! That’s awesome you have those experiences and taking it to the limit! You are making it more of a neccessity to catch a Rays game just to see your video beforehand! Well done #1 fan.

Thanks Tommy.
I am not the number one fan, but I can get into that top 25 spot without a problem.
Hey, I only do it for the love of the game, not about money, power or fame for me.

Rays Renegade

Very cool, RR. Man, you are EVERYWHERE! Ordinarily I’d be afraid of a club called the “maniacs” but you give it street cred. Play ball!

Well Jeff,
That is how we roll down here in the Dirty South. We have fun, which can be sometimes hard when your team was not winning over 50 percent of their games.
But it go even more street cred., and also some more exposure in 2008 due to local radio and television stations wanting to use us as background fans in segemnts and commercials.
the rest is history.

Rays Renegade

Being part of history = Priceless.

I agree Jeff, being part of history when this team is in their infant stage is fantastic.
No one will remember us when we hit our team’s 25th birthday, but they know us during our 12th season.
And I will take that, becuase the future is so bright, I have to wear shades ( I had to do it).

Rays Renegade

Rays, love your enthusiasm for your team! Another Blue team! Emma crzblue-sent by blackberry.

Why thank you Emma,
I have never been known as an Eeyore or gloomy person. I am just lucky enough to have a good seat, and a great bunch of people to cheer with.
I think every stadium should have that too.

Rays Renegade

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