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Rays roll out unique, in-stadium animated series
08/08/2007 2:14 PM ET
ST. PETERSBURG -- The very existence of baseball is being threatened by the Evil Umperor, a fallen umpire from the beginnings of baseball whose sole mission is to corrupt and destroy the game. Bent on promoting the virtues of winning at all costs even if it means cheating, the Umperor must be stopped... but who will rise to the challenge?

It all comes to life on "Defenders of the Game," an animated series featured on Tropicana Field's video scoreboard at every Sunday home game of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

In conjunction with One Sum Communications, the Rays have developed this unique feature targeted for youngsters in attendance at Tropicana Field.

"Off-season research indicated that young Rays fans and their parents have a very strong interest in cartoons," said Rays Vice President of Branding and Fan Experience Darcy Raymond. ""Defenders of the Game" is a great way for parents to celebrate the magic of baseball with their kids every Sunday at Tropicana Field."

Animated likenesses of Rays players Scott Kazmir, Rocco Baldelli and Carl Crawford, Manager Joe Maddon and Senior Advisor Don Zimmer make up the cast of animated heroes. All provided voice-overs for their characters.

"The players, Joe Maddon and Don Zimmer were involved from concept through the recording sessions and they seemed to have a lot of fun in the process of taking their athletic skills and personas to the animated level," said John Franzone, the Rays Senior Director of Creative Service Entertainment. "That, coupled with our cliffhanger story structure, makes it really engaging and fun for our young fans."

Past episodes of "Defenders of the Game" can be seen on the Rays official website,

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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