Imagine yourself enjoying a game at Tropicana Field when all of a sudden you hear “Are You Ready?” blare out of the loud speakers. As you look at the jumbotron, a cat is raising his paws and dancing around. What on earth makes the fans so excited about a cat?
Racing mascots have always been a fan favorite in baseball. The Milwaukee Brewers have sausages that run around the warning track, while presidents can be seen competing for the title of fastest runner at Washington Nationals games. Not all mascots must race to gain attention though.
During the 2011 National League Division Series, the St. Louis Cardinals adopted the rally squirrel as their unofficial mascot. Mr. Met of the New York Mets was even named the #1 mascot in all of sports by Forbes Magazine this year. Despite these popular franchise icons, the Tampa Bay Rays have someone no other team does: DJ Kitty.
While wearing a white Rays’ jersey, Rays’ cap worn backwards, and a 2008 American League Championship Series ring dangling on the end of his chain, DJ Kitty is a turntable spinning fan favorite.
That was exactly what a group of Rays’ players, whose names have never been revealed, envisioned when they created the video in mid September 2010. Their intent was to keep fans enthused during the Rays’ rally for a playoff appearance, after Tampa Bay’s futile attempts to get fans energized with a video featuring a cat playing the keyboard. Sure enough, it worked.
Shortly after DJ Kitty premiered, he became a viral sensation on YouTube. Even ABC Action News and The Wall Street Journal gave the cat some publicity. Eventually, Darcy Raymond, the Rays’ Vice President for branding and fan experience, revealed to Lane DeGregory of the St. Petersburg Times that DJ Kitty is his cat.
DJ Kitty has remained a staple at Rays’ games, becoming co-mascot with Raymond the seadog. In February of 2012, fans could take pictures with both mascots at the Rays Fan Fest, where the life size DJ Kitty mascot was revealed. His appearance differs slightly from the DJ Kitty in the video by sporting a cowbell on the end of his chain. However, DJ Kitty’s remix of “Jump!” by The Movement still plays on the jumbotron regularly. Over the past two years, Rays fans have received promotional giveaways featuring a DJ Kitty puppet, bobble head, and t-shirts.
Tropicana Field often receives a bad wrap for its catwalks, domed ceiling, and location in St. Petersburg, but there is nothing disappointing about DJ Kitty. I have seen silent stands turn loud instantly, as DJ Kitty appears on the screen. People jump to their feet and dance, just as the music implies, reminding fans once again that any experience at Tropicana Field is far from ordinary. While other teams are defined by history and legends, the Rays stand out as a team that delights in creativity, a mindset fostered by the innovative skipper Joe Maddon. When the game is slow and the fans are quiet, all it takes is DJ Kitty’s remix skills to remind fans that they have plenty to root for. I don’t know about you, but to me that sounds like one cool cat.