Stingray mascot mocks Steve Irwin's death

AIMEE GULLIVER
Last updated 17:08 08/04/2013
Fairfax Australia

US baseball team the Tampa Bay Rays are forced to apologise after their stingray mascot held up a sign mocking Australian Steve Irwin's death.

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A US baseball team has apologised after its mascot was photographed holding a sign mocking the death of Steve Irwin.

Irwin died in 2006 when he was fatally struck in the chest by a stingray's barb while fliming a documentary at the Great Barrier Reef.

The Tampa Bay Rays mascot, a stingray, posed at a match last week holding a fan's sign that read "Rays To Do List".

Top of the list, and crossed out, was 'Steve Irwin'. Under this was the yet to be achieved 'World Series'.

The team issued an apology after the photo circulated on the internet, and said fans were welcome to bring signs into the ballpark provided they were not offensive.

"The Tampa Bay Rays regret that this particular sign was displayed in the ballpark, and we apologise for the lapse in judgment," a statement from the club said.

The sign's creator Lloyd Johnson was unapologetic and said that critics should lighten up.

"I love Steve Irwin, but come on, it's funny," he said.

"Every time I stood up I was stopped to take a picture with someone.

"The reaction, at least from what I heard at the stadium and on Facebook, was positive."

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