PRESS RELEASE – Stoney, the adored mascot of the Charlotte Stone Crabs, Advanced ‘A’ affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays, has officially announced his retirement effective at the end of the 2016 season. The Stone Crabs are hosting a Retirement Party on August 20th, when the team hosts Bradenton at 6:05 p.m. with Stoney’s retirement ceremony to begin at roughly 5:15 p.m.
Since the beginning of the 2009 season in Port Charlotte, the face of the Charlotte Stone Crabs has been none other than their big, blue, cuddly mascot, Stoney. Through the blistering summer heat, school tours for the reading club and endless community appearances year-round, the 6-foot-7 mystical sea creature has brought joy, and sometimes even tears, to the faces of children in Charlotte County, Florida.
“The desire to spend more time around his grandkids and family is the driving force behind this,” said a close friend of Stoney. “The appeal of retirement has really jumped back into his life,” continued the friend, “Everyone forgets that Stoney came to Charlotte County to retire back in 2008 but after an endless pursuit of his services by the then soon to be Charlotte Stone Crabs, Stoney’s retirement dream was put on hold.”
Despite his passion and dedication for the Stone Crabs and the entire community, Stoney has decided to hang up his size 22 shoes. A source close to the organization confirmed this was a decision that took a lot of time and consideration, but one that Stoney is ultimately comfortable with in the end. His last game with the Stone Crabs will be on Thursday, September 1st at 6:35 p.m. and of course there will be post-game fireworks for Stoney’s last game.
“It’s a very sad day for the Stone Crabs organization,” said Stone Crabs General Manager Jared Forma. “No one, and I mean no one has been a bigger, more important part of this organization for the past eight years than Stoney,” Forma continued. “Additionally, he is one of the most recognizable faces in Charlotte County and has had as big an impact in the community as anyone over the years. Despite all of our efforts to convince Stoney to stay for another year, I know what is in his heart and how much his family means to him. Michael Jordan, Peyton Manning, I guess all the greats need to retire at some point.”
Meanwhile, Stoney’s retirement party, which is guaranteed to stir emotions throughout the entire Sports Park, will take place on Saturday, August 20th at 6:05 p.m. with a special pre-game ceremony to start approximately at 5:15 p.m. A variety of Stoney’s mascot friends, including the Chick-Fil-A cow, Swampee from the Florida Everblades Hockey Team, Scoopy of Culvers and so many more will be in attendance to celebrate the big day. There will be gifts, speeches from members of the organization as well as other notable representatives, and of course, a ton of the area’s local kids will be on the field to help say goodbye to Stoney.
The Stone Crabs, with the help of Stoney, will be holding an extensive search starting in September for a new mascot to represent the team. In conjunction with this interview process, the organization will unveil a “Name The New Mascot Contest” in September as well.
“This is just another example of Stoney’s character. He is adamant that he will not leave the Sports Park until he helps the Stone Crabs find his replacement,” said Forma. “Stoney actually had to help convince me that the Stone Crabs will be better off moving forward with a new mascot and that the timing of his retirement has never been better.”
Before ending the interview due to becoming too emotional, Forma added, “You know, everyone sees him out and about in the community, smiling and laughing but for the past three and half years I started every day off with a morning coffee with Stoney. I learned about what his day was going to entail, how many people he made smile the previous day and we talked about our families, life and how we can improve the community. It’s a sad day and beyond emotional, I’m not sure how I will hold it together on August 20.”