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Stingray mascot mocks Steve Irwin's death

09:41 Mon Apr 8 2013
The Tampa Bay Rays' mascot holding the offending sign. (Supplied)
The Tampa Bay Rays' mascot holding the offending sign. (Supplied)

A major league baseball team in the US has apologised for a "lapse in judgment" after its stingray mascot posed with a sign mocking the death of Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin.

But the fan who created the sign is unapologetic and says critics should lighten up.

The club mascot for the Tampa Bay Rays, based in Florida, was photographed holding a sign reading "Rays To Do List" during a game against Baltimore last Wednesday night.

Number one on the list showed Steve Irwin's picture and name with a line crossed through it — making a droll reference to his death from a stingray attack in 2006.

Number two on the list was winning the World Series baseball championship.

The team issued an apology after a photo of the mascot holding the sign began spreading around the internet.

"Last night Rays mascot Raymond was handed an inappropriate sign brought to the game by a fan," the statement read.

"Fans are welcome to bring signs into Tropicana Field provided they are not offensive. The Tampa Bay Rays regret that this particular sign was displayed in the ballpark, and we apologise for the lapse in judgment."

But the fan who created the sign, 29-year-old Army veteran Lloyd Johnson, said he cannot see what all the fuss is about.

"I love Steve Irwin but come on, it's funny," he told the New York Daily News.

"Every time I stood up I was stopped to take a picture with someone. I probably took 20-30 photos with people.

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