Rays Off Day Facts and Figures
With today being a off day for the Tampa Bay Rays before they take on the Texas Rangers tomorrow night in a 3-game series, I thought it might be a good time to relate some unusual and interesting facts about the team today. Within the short history of the Rays there are hidden gems of information and wild facts that most fans have not seen or heard about the team.
This is an organization that might not have the storied history of some of their division rivals in Boston or New York, but they are building their legends and reputations daily, and with that process comes interesting facts and anedotes surrounding the team. I am going to try and give you some interesting facts about the Rays and some of the people behind the scenes that most people will never meet while attending a game at Tropicana Field.
Let’s first start with some of the people that reside on the third floor offices of the Trop., and move onto the Rays Coaching staff.
Brian Killingsworth who is the Rays Senior Director of Marketing and Promotion once played with current Ray Carlos Pena in the Cape Cod League in 1997. Both men were members of the Cape Cod Champion Wareham Gateman that season.
Rick Vaughn, who is the Rays Vice President of Communications was the Public Relations Director for the MLB’s All Star tour to Japan in November 2002. He also is a graduate of George Mason University asnd threw the first no-hitter in the university’s history.
Fred McGriff, who is currently in his third season as a Special Advisor to the Rays also is about to enter his first
year of Baseball Hall of Fame eligibility in 2010. He played baseball for 19 years and amassed 2,490 hits, 493 HR and 1,550 RBI. Only 15 players have reached this level of achievement in thei careers, with 11 of them already selected to the Hall of Fame, and the other 4 are not eligible yet.
John P Higgins, Senior Vice President and General Counsel for the Rays was the first employee hired by the team on April 1, 1995. Prior to the first game of the American League Divisional Series he threw out the First Pitch.
Jeff Ziegler, who is thew Rays Traveling Secretary did not begin his career in baseball. He originally ws a member of the St. Petersburg Police Department as a patrolman and detective in the narcotics and vice division for 13 years. He was assigned by MLB as the resident security agent for the Rays in 1997-1998.
Brian Anderson, who is pulling double duty in 2009 as both a color analyst for the Rays Television Network and as Assistant Pitching Coach for the team originally started his double role with the team after Spring Training 2008. He came to the teams an a non-roster invitee after missing both 2006 and 2007 with two different Tommy John’s surgeries.
His career effectively ended on Marhc 12, 2008 when he walked off the mound against the New York Yankees after suffering another arm injury. He had tore his ulnar collateral ligament for the third time, plus tore his flexor mass muscle for the second time in his career. He was announced as the Rays Assistant Pitching Coach on March 25, 2008.
He first wandered into the Rays broadcast booth when
regular color analyst Joe Magrane went to New York to cover the 2008 Olympics for NBC. But this was not his first entry into the broadcast booth. He also did some work in Cleveland for the Indians both in the Sports Time Ohio telecasts and doing a weekly highlights show for the team.
Only three uniformed Rays personnel have been here as long as Rays Third Base Coach Tom Foley. Current Hitting Coach Steve “Hendo” Henderson, Current Durham Bulls Manager Charlie Montoya, and hitting coordinator Steve Livesey.
Here is another crazy fact about Foley. as a youth at Palmetto High School in Miami, Florida he was an ambidextrous athlete, throwing a baseball with his right- handed as a shortstop and left-handed as a fotball quarterback.
Steve Henderson, the Rays Hitting Coach was a team member of theSt. Petersburg Pelicans during the 1989 Championship in the Senior Professional Baseball Association. The team did not ever recieve their championship rings until 2008, when during the Rays “Throw Back” day against the Houston Astros, each memebr of the team were finally presented their championship rings.
On June 15, 1977, Henderson along with pitcher Pat Zachry, Doug Flynn and Dan Norman were traded to the New York Mets by the Cincinnati Reds in a deal known as the “Midnight Massacre” for future Hall of Famer Tom Seaver. Henderson took it all in stride and played in 99 games that season for the Mets and lost the N L Rookie of the Year award to Andre Dawson by one vote.
George Hendricks, the Rays First Base Coach is a perfect example of what an athlete can do on a baseball field. Hendricks never even played high school sports at Fremont High School in Los Angeles before th Oaklan A’s made him their first selection on the January segment of the draft in 1968.
Hendricks went on to become a four-time All-Star and earned two World Series rings. The first with Oakland in 1972, and then his second in 1982 with the St. Louis Cardinals. He was also a member of the Los Angeles Angels 1986 division winning team. He also led the MLB in outfield assists in 1979 with 20 while with the Cardinals.
Jim Hickey, the Rays Pitching Coach is only one of seven Pitching Coaches in the last 50 years to go to the World Series with two different clubs. He joins former Rays manager Larry Rothchild, Dave Duncan,Mel Stottlemyre, Johnny Sain,Stan Williams and Dave Wallace in this exclusive group.
Dave Martinez, the Rays Bench Coach is only the second former Rays player to join the coaching ranks of the Rays. Wade Boggs was the first to work for the Rays as their Hitting Coach in 2001. Matinez, an original Ray, also recorded the first hit for the Rays , a third inning single off Detroit starter Justin Thompson.
He was also the first Rays player to steal two bases in a game, and the first Rays to record an inside-the-park home run when he did it off New York Hideki Irabu on July 10, 1998. 11 days later h
is season was over after a hamstring injury. He was also a team mate of Foley’s in Montreal from 1988-1991.
And last but not least, I am going to list the Opening Day roster for the first Rays season in 1998. Some of these names you might remember, and a few of them you might be trying to forget, but they are all part of the history that makes the Rays who they are today.
Wilson Alvarez Opening Day starter)
Rolando Arrojo 14 wins in his rookie season )
Dan Carlson 7.64 ERA in 10 appearances)
Rick Gorecki 1-2 with a 4.86 ERA )
Roberto Hernandez 26 saves in 71.1 innings )
Albie Lopez 7-4, with a 2.60 ERA )
Jim Mecir 7-2, with a 3.11 ERA )
Tony Saunders 6-15, with a 4.12 ERA )
Dennis Springer 3-11, with a 5.45 ERA )
Ramon Tatis 22 games, 13.89 ERA
Esteban Yan 5-4 with 77 strikeouts
Mike DiFelice .230 average with 23 RBI
John Flaherty .207 average with 24 RBI
Wade Boggs .280 average and 1st Rays HR
Miguel Cairo .268 average with 46 RBI
Aaron Ledesma .324 average with 8 SB
Fred McGriff 19 HR and 81 RBI
Bobby Smith .276 average with 11 HR
Paul Sorrento 17 HR and 57 RBI
Kevin Stocker .208 average with 25 RBI
Rich Butler .226 average with 20 RBI
Mike Kelly 10 HR and 33 RBI
Dave Martinez .256 average and 20 RBI
Quinton McCracken .292 average with 19 SB
Bubba Trammell . 286 average with 12 HR
With the Rays next off day on Monday, maybe I will try and get some more trivia on some of the current memebrs of the Rays 40-man roster and on their home, Tropicana Field. Until then, enjoy the Rays 3-game series against the Texas Rangers and your Fourth of July weekend.