Rays Fan Fest 2009 Photo Blog

I promised you a photo blog today, and I am going to deliver it. I will also make sure to put some captions and explanations to some of the photos. Some have an interesting background that I did not cover in my Fan Fest blog that I finally got online after 9 pm on Saturday. I can tell you that I was a bit late coming back to the house after my laptop died at the stadium because my cord for some reason did not work in the outlets today at the Trop. But have no fear, the pictures are here…………Hope you enjoy them as mush as I did taking them today.





I came through the center field opening about 9:03 a.m., and it was a sight to see how well spread out the Rays had done the event this year. It was also the clam before the storm as over 35,000 fans ended up coming into the dome today to meet and greet the 2009 Rays team members at either the autograph tables or during the many team player events throughout the Fan Fest.



I do not think this sign needs any more introduction other than to tell you it is the last thing the Rays team players see before they step down into the dugout and onto the field. To say that the Rays have their own brand of doing things might be an understatement. They are a team that takes on the personality of their manger Joe Maddon and fights to the last out every inning, every game.


As you can see by the above two pictures, Rays Manager Joe Maddon is big on quotes of inspiration and influence. Maddon is a firm believer in the mental side of the game, and it effects on a team. All throughout the clubhouse you will find saying and antidotes bringing up character and honest effort on and off the field. 


As you can see by the last two photos, the Rays clubhouse is an awesome place to relax and get into game mode. Chris Westmoreland, the Rays Clubhouse Manager was selected as the leagues best at his job in 2008. And by looking at the comfort and the extreme luxuries he has given the team, from laptops usage in the clubhouse to food services, he is about making sure everyone in this locker room get what they need daily. The second photos is a side view into Maddon’s office where he has several uniforms framed on his wall. One is a team mate jersey from Lafayette University where Maddon played baseball in college.  He also has a very unique feature in there, a wine rack that Maddon regularly uses after games to relax with coaches and players.







This is the scene at 10 a.m. just after the front door were opened to regular fans who did not have a season ticket. As you can see, the lines in the autograph area have not truly formed yet.  Near the end of this photo blog, you will see the chaos that unfolded around 2-3 p.m. in the dome. The second photo is a from my seat right there at the bottom of Section 138. One of the great features of having Season Tickets is that you get a black nameplate on your seat to show that you are a true fan, and that you sit there. Believe me, during some of the series in the Trop., you have to shoo people away with a bat from that prime seat for foul balls in Batting Practice.













These photos are of the kid’s zone area that catered to young Rays fans and tested their skills out in front of the crowds. Talk about pressure cooker situations.






In the first photo is famous boxing corner man Angelo Dundee who was signing today for fans and also taking pictures. Many people might remember him as the corner man for boxing champions Muhammad Ali, and Floyd Whittaker. The second photo is of the tandem of Dave Willis and Andy Freed who do the Rays Radio broadcast of every game. These guys have an awesome chemistry and are some of the nicest people you ever want to meet in baseball.







Here we have Dick Crippen, local sports legendary sports anchor announcing the members of the Rays/Pepsi Fan Wall of Fame. The wall now hold the names of over 100 enthusiastic Rays fans who have been nominated by the Rays management and the Fans for their spirit and involvement in the Rays games. I was inducted into this wall in 2004, and up until 2007 I also helped build the Pepsi displays that served as the background for the events.   I have to say, that the displays have been getting bigger and better evey year. I can not wait to see what the 2010 display will look like and how big it will be. Pictured above is Pieter Wiemken, who was enshrined today in the Fans Wall of Fame. Most people might recognize him for his wig and his signs during the Boston series this year and by him banging his cowbell in the upper deck right behind home plate. He is a great addition to the Wall of Fame.








Here we have the awesome Rays calliope that was a piece featured in the Schrader’s baseball collection display. The collection is touted as being the “World’s Largest Privately Owned Baseball Collection.” The calliope itself is an amazing centerpiece to the display. Also pictured is the styrofoam “Maddon’s Maniac” character that graces all of that special Rays club’s cowbells and t-shirts given out to the club’s members. I will talk more about the 2009 expectations of this great club in the future.










Starting with the first photo here, we have Rays starting pitcher James Shields and speedster Fernando Perez taking a photo with a Rays season Ticket holder. The event went on all afternoon long with two players each standing their for photo opportunities from 1-5 p.m. At one point, the line stretch about half way into the right field street hallway before finally slinking down towards the 5 p.m. time. The second photo is of Pat Burrell recording a voice mail message on my cellphone for people to hear when they call me. This event sponsored by Metro PCS went on from 1-3, and also featured Rookie David Price and other players calling friends and family during the event. The third photo is of  the Rays Radio team doing an interview with Buck Martinez in the Budweiser Brew House. This is the event that Martinez talked about the uphill battle the Rays might have to take in 2009, but he sees it as a positive for the team, and stressed that this is also a better team than the one that won the A L Pennant in 2008.









In the first photo in this set we have Rays reliever Grant Balfour and new Rays Matt Joyce up on the signing tables waiting for the fans. You might notice that I am sitting in my Season ticket seat right now taking in the last few hours of the event. I even have a pretty good sight line when I am at Fan Fest. In the second photo, you see Rays reliever Jason Hammel looking over at Carlos Pena, who also has his charming young daughter up on stage with him drawing during the autograph session. In the last picture is the greeting between Rays Manager Joe Maddon and Pena before he leaves the stage at the event.







Here is an idea to show how crowded the autograph areas got during the day. The first photo was taken at about 1 :30 p.m. and you can see that the line snakes around past my seating area and into the hall beyond right field. The second one, I wanted to get the time in the picture to show you how it got even more congested just before 3:00 p.m. around the stage one area.







The first photo shows Rays Bullpen coach Bobby Ramos holding court up in the Stage one area with Maddon and Rays Hitting coach Steve ” Hendo” Henderson sitting their listening to Ramos. This group of coaches all seems to fit so well together. I have seen them after games at a few places, and they truly like to spend time with each other. The second photo is as Pena was leaving and dn he was shouting over to see if I was still going to be sitting their in 2009. By the way Carlos……….where else would I be except maybe the dugout…I wish. In the third photo, Scott Kazmir was coming off the stage area and asked if I was going for chicken wings. I hate that some of these guys know me so well they know I am bound for Ferg’s and his world famous chicken wings anytime I am down in St Petersburg.




And this last photo says it all. Here we are at the apex to spring training and the Rays have the enthusiasm and the confidence to even provide a “Magical Number” for 2009. It was a fantastic day to again chat and revisit  with friends and players alike and dream about what might be in 2009. I hope you enjoyed my photo blog of my adventures at the 2009 Tampa Bay Rays Fan Fest.



All Photos today were obtained by the RRCollections and can be copied or used for advertising and promotion of the Tampa Bay Rays.




Wow, thanks for sharing your photos with us! It sounds like it was a great time. I like how Joe Maddon puts a lot into the mental part of the game. When I pitched for my softball team, I was told that it’s 90% mental, 10% physical after I walked 9 batters in a row LOL. I was the only pitcher so the game didn’t turn out that well.
I also think that it’s nice that you have name plates if you’re a season ticket holder.

Hey there Elizabeth,

Yeah, Joe Maddon is one of those thinker that you meet in life and you always know he could talk to you and still solve a Rubik’s cube at the same time. That is one of the reason I love the guy. He is not a “yeller” at his players and takes the calm approach to warning and getting the best out of them.

Mental aspects of all sports can turn an event in seconds. Look at the Superbowl. The Arizona Cardinals had the momentum a few times in that game and the Steelers just drove the stake into them again and again, but the confidence and courage of the Cardinals kept rising up until Santonio Holmes drove his own stake through their hearts.

That is just one of the cool things they do for us. The best is the promise of one of every good promotional item to keep or give as gifts. The Rays have been very, very good to me and the rest of the Season Ticket fans.

Rays Renegade


Hey – congrats on #9 on the Leader’s list!


Love all your photos! It looks like you had a blast!


Hey I’m Orangebird. Blogger of Up In Section 360 and seen on the link lists of Eat, Sleep, Baseball and Julia’s Rants. I’m just trying to get mt name out. The Orioles have a good role model in the Rays. Awesome fanfest and great young talent. Great team to model. Excellent blog by the way


Thanks for the congrats. I have been hovering in and out of the top 10 for the past three leader boards. I think I am just going to refer my blog as the yo-yo factor.

It will all depend on what I write if I am popular or boring as a board. lol

Rays Renegade


Anytime I have stepped into that dome, I seem to have fun. First did it a long time ago for the Tampa Bay Lightning versus the Philadelphia Flyers hockey game, which at that time was the largest crowd to ever watch a hockey playoff game.

Maybe it is also the fact that I used to ply on the oil-soaked roads that led to this storage facility before they tore it down in the mid 70’s. Who knows, but I love this part of the city so much I almost bought a condo within a block of the Trop.

Rays Renegade


Thank you for that Orangebird.

Just be yourself and take time to get all the facts and you will do fine. It will be a bit before you soar up into the top spots, but if you keep at it……….the sky is truly the limit.

Baltimore is a club that is going to rebuild fast. I have a buddy who plays for your team, and he did cause some strife before people saw he was just a prankster and did not mean any harm. Great food and the Inner Harbor area is awesome. And if you go to a game at Camden Yards and do not go to Boog’s BBQ, you miss out on some true fun on a bun.

Rays Renegade


The name plates are awesome! It’s great to see the pics of all the fans! Next year they are going to need two days. Hope everyone down there is ready for a great season. Can’t wait to get started!

Wow! Looks like you had a great time. I hope that the Rays can continue to build on the fan support they had this past season. I find it interesting how their amazing season coincided with the removal of the word “devil” from their name. Congrats also on your #9 ranking!
Rants, Raves, and Random Thoughts

It actually was 2 days a few years ago, but things got so spread out it became boring, and people sat around for hours at the booths doing almost nothing.

And with the Daytona 500 basically falling on the Sunday date, it would put a crimp in some fans schedules to try ans hit both events on separate coasts of the state in the same day.

Rays Renegade


Thanks Sue,

I actually thin it was a great thing, but the team was building itself even before the name change. They both kind of went hand-in-hand last year.

M C Hammer did a Sat night concert and I have thrown this out before, but he very loudly proclaimed that, ” They took the devil out, and the wins came in.” What else would you expect out of a minister with satin parachute pants.

Rays Renegade


Thanks for the tip on Burrell! I will surely give it a try! Great photos….LOVE the nameplate :O) I wish the Phillies did that for all the seaosn tickets holder….at CBP, it is only the 1st two rows in the Diamond Club area I think that get any sort of plaque. Oh well!


Great picture show! I felt as if I were literally at the event. A wine rack in the clubhouse? That’s cool. Can’t picture Joe Girardi having one of those. LOL. I loved how Kazmir asked you about the chicken wings. Did you go and have them afterwards????


Love all the pics! I like to see the clubhouse from different stadiums. Great pics!

~King of Cali

OMG, what a crowd! I couldn’t take it if I were one of the players.


I was actually a Season Ticket holder for the Seattle Mariners in 2007 because of a work commitment and they did not offer half the stuff I got in Tampa Bay. But it is a team-by-team comparison that you will find the real good bargains in the league. Some teams offer great items, and other give the basics and a few things thrown in for good measures.

I have only felt slighted once as a Rays Season Ticket holder, and that was at the Photo Day in 2008 the day after the on field celebration of going to the playoffs. But I understood after that game that the guys were not ready for the camera, but wished they would have come out anyways.

Rays Renegade


Thanks Jane,

I tried to get as close as I could to some of the good points of the event both in the blog, and in the pictures. Becuase my seat was just off the stage, it gave me a great position to sit and watch everything also. I had a ball as usual and already look forward to the 2010 Fan Fest.

I did get 20 boneless wings to go with his homemade blue cheese from Ferg’s. I actually got to know him better through an old Rays player, Toby Hall. He had a bowling tourney several years ago and Scott Kazmir was a bowling fanatic at the time. He was in the opposite lane the entire night and we sat there and talked like old friends. I think the world of the guy, and I always show support for him as he comes out for his pre-game warmups in the Bullpen.

Rays Renegade


When they first remodeled it a few years ago, I just thought it was too soft for a team. You want a little spartan area to psyche you up, but it has been amazing for player morale.

I even got a chair from the visiting clubhouse that I have in my little office area with the American League logo on the chair back. This franchise has done everything possible to make sure the players have a comfort and a secure level of consistency from the locker rooms, to the dugouts, to the out of town lodging…it has been first class all the way.

Rays Renegade


I would think the players have had a better feeling for playing in front such a huge event after the road to the World Series in 2008. They did not have fans screaming at them like in Boston for the ALCS and in Philly for the World Series.

If you actually think about it. They played in two of the worst enviroments in baseball for the last two playoff series, and held their composure. It did not equal a win in the last one, but the experience was surely stored away in their minds if they get a second shoat at the whole bag of marbles.

Rays Renegade


Man, I take the weekend off and it seems I take just as much time trying to get up on great blogs like yourself Renegade. Nice picts brother and it sounded like a blast. That’s great Tampa has a wall for fans such as yourself and you get to spoil yourself with season tics!

I do not know about spoil. The cost me about $ 1,706 this season for my one little seat, but it is worth every penny.

It is okay to take some time off, I just write every day to keep my mind from going nuts. Soon I will have baseball during the nights, either home or away games to take the winter chill out of my bones.

Soon enough I will hear the umpires yell, “Play Ball!”

Rays Renegade


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