Results tagged ‘ Stan Musial ’

Fondly Remembering my Encounters with Musial and Weaver


I am truly saddened by the passing of two Major League Baseball icons who had ties to the Tampa Bay and in particular, the St. Petersburg, Florida community. Both spent several Spring Trainings in this area, and both proudly wore their team’s bird upon their chest. I did have the pleasure of meeting both Stan Musial and Earl Weaver during the time the St. Louis Cardinals and Baltimore Orioles shared the St. Pete sunshine. I remember each for different reasons, but always cherished them as true baseball icons.

musial_stMusial was a frequent visitor to my father’s Pure Oil/Union 76 gas station during the 1970’s gas war days. I was the young kid who came out and pulled the cones for residents and ball players alike to come fill their tanks and get a windshield wash, tires and fluids checked and even bits of conversation about anything and everything under the bright Florida sky. Musial actually asked about getting a LOF (Lube, Oil and Filter) and was surprised to see a pint-sized junior mechanic under the grease rack doing the duties. He walked into the service bay and chatted with me about my love of baseball, offered to leave tickets for myself and my Dad, and even asked how my Little League season was unfolding.

I found him to be a unique and soft-spoken man who got the privilege of playing baseball for a living for so long and made it to the top-tier of his profession. Musial came in a few more times that Spring, and we seemed to begin our conversations right where we left off, and I did go to a n umber of games where Musial tipped his cap to my Dad and myself and I even got to hold his bat once while he was signing autographs for other along the dugout fence.

musial_hofThe worst part of all of this is that Musial was no longer a player at this time, and his time was spent sitting in the dugout, walking down the Al Lang Field fencing signing balls, photos and conversing with the fans before he made his way into the Clubhouse and disrobed and became one of us mingling near the Press box and wandering stadium with just a slight hint of invisibility. If I saw him under the stands I always came up to him, offered conversation and wanted him to know how much I respected him as a ballplayer and a man. St. Louis eventually decided to not come to St. Pete anymore for their Spring Training, and with it my special moments with Musial ceased. I have always wanted to hit the new and expansive Busch Stadium and hoped to catch a glimpse of the man I truly felt was not only “Mr Cardinal”, but one of my first baseball buddies.

Before the Tampa Bay Rays were even a whisper on my lips, the Baltimore Orioles were my team of choice when it came to baseball. This was even before the Orioles decided to make St. Petersburg their Spring Training home for several seasons before they migrated elsewhere, never to return to this vista. I was a young ballplayer in the late 60’s, just beginning my on-field love of the game and enjoyed any moment I had down at the complex watching the likes of Boog Powell, John Lowenstein, Paul Blair and my favorite Brooks Robinson stride into the batters box or take their position on the field.

inspireweaverMy introduction to O’s Manager Earl Weaver came bay accident, and in the most embarrassing situation. I was one of those kids who felt like an adult and wandered away from my parents a lot in my younger years. On this day I somehow got behind the security line of defense and wandered into the Orioles Clubhouse looking for the bathroom. If you have every seen the older style bathrooms of that era, there would be a massive trough or stalls lining one side of the room and what seemed like a mile of sinks and products lined along mirrors that seemed to go on forever.

I was startled by the flushing sound behind me and even more startled when Weaver came out of the stall grumbling and throwing a few unknown words to the heavens. I think we both took a step back when we face each other, him in shock of seeing a young kid in his Clubhouse and myself seeing someone I respected and admired for his style of baseball.

thCA5ZBR3JI extended my hand and introduced myself and Weaver just chuckled and called for the Clubhouse attendant. I was not sure if I was in trouble and should run, or take the penalty for my mis-guided adventure into an authorized area. Weaver instead asked the “clubbie” to get me an official Orioles cap and asked if I was having a great time. I shuddered a bit wondering why this legend wanted to know anything from me, but as we both walked out of the bathroom area the clubbie popped a cap on my head and we both walked out the green double doors towards the 4 fields on the North-side of the complex.

My Dad saw me walk out with Weaver and you could see on his face I had done another of my many lifetime “Dennis the Menace” moments. I kind of shadowed Weaver a bit that day while I was at the ballpark complex, standing behind the fencing near him hearing his sage wisdom and advice to both players and fans alike. He was a grizzled baseball veteran, but also showed a heart of gold this day, even to a young fan like myself. I stayed at the complex until the players began to again head for the Clubhouse and leave for the day.

Weaver saw me tired and a bit sunburned from the day and tipped his cap as he also ventured into the coll air of the clubhouse for meetings and a bit of lunch. People talk about the harsh nature of Weaver, for his gruff commentary and demeanor, but on that given day, none of that came to the surface or showed its face to me or the assembled Spring crowd. Over that Spring I ventured down to the complex and to games as much as I could either in attendance of my parents, or by a lone bike trek to the St. Petersburg waterfront. Each time I scampered down to the fencing by the dugout with my O’s cap on my head hoping to get a pre-game cap nod from the O’s skipper.

SMSP1Both these men made huge impression on me at a young age about the game of baseball and I think each helped sow even more seeds that flowered into my undying love for this game. I had not seen or talked to either of these great baseball icons for many years, talking to both at charity events in the Tampa Bay area. It is always a somber event when you hear of one of your respected heroes and role models leaving this Earth. But I know if there is truly a place above the cloud where we ascend to, Weaver is growling with the Umpires and Stan the Man is young again and patrolling the outfield with passion and joy. Musial and Weaver are in the Baseball Hall of Fame, but they also share a special place in my baseball heart…forever.

2,000 Rays Memories in a Flash of Light



Has it really been 2,000 Tampa Bay Rays game? Seriously, it seems like just a few brief moments ago that I witnessed the Rays first pitch thrown by starter Wilson Alvarez past Detroit Tigers lead-off man Brian Hunter to produce the first game photo opportunity for Rays fans. How long ago does that March 31,1998 5:08 pm start seems today now that it has been revealed that we (the Rays) have played 2,000 contests against some of the best who have ever played this great game of baseball. I really doesn’t seem all that long to me, but then again it has been a bumpy ride at time over the last 12 ½ Rays seasons.

I would be totally absentminded if I did not to note the great baseball dignitaries that were on hand to throw out First Pitches prior to Alvarez’s low and outside first Rays MLB offering. Baseball Hall of Fame members Ted Williams, Stan Musial, Monte Irvin and Tampa’s own Al Lopez were on hand to celebrate the beginning of regular season baseball in the Tampa Bay area. Even though the Rays did begin their history with a loss to the Tigers that night, every one of their 1,136 losses still cause the same aches and pains in my heart as they did in 1998. Even if the Rays record from 1998-2007 (645-972), their first 10 years of existence is the worst MLB club mark over that 10 year period in the majors, their current win-loss record since that time has been inspirational and shows the solid growth of the franchise.


From 2008-2010, the Rays have the fourth best record in the Major Leagues providing a 220-164 mark and that record growing more impressive with every game.1998 seems so long ago now, but the memories I have witnessed sitting in my Rightfield corner seat has been amazing over that 2,000 game journey. I still remember during the last home game during the 2001 season, when Rays pitcher Brain Rekar sat with me and a few friends in the Bullpen Café during the ninth inning, just shooting the breeze during his last day as a Ray. I still have the hat he gave me that afternoon with the handwritten NYPD FDNY symbols in the brim of the hat honoring the men lost during 9-11.

Even thinking of that past moment has the memories suddenly began to flow like a waterfall, remembering moment after moment both at home and when I took my fandom on the road, like my first experience with the “rain delay” aspect of the game while in Cleveland on May 14,2004. Or hitting Safeco Field for the first time in years and feeling that wind gush through the stadium and wishing for my Rays warm-up jacket. Home or away, the Rays expansive memories keep piling up and for some odd reason, the stories seem to get longer now.


But the aspect of this team finally hurdling that 2,000 game plateau is simply amazing to me. A quick thought to the talent that have pulled on a Rays uniform over that time period, from Hall of Fame member Wade Boggs, Fred McGriff, Tino Martinez, Bubba Trammel, Roberto Hernandez, Toby Hall, Jonny Gomes, Ozzie Guillen, Randy Winn, and hundreds of other great ballplayers who made Rays fans laugh, cry and cheer with the wins and losses. And the tears of sadness we expressed when former Rays players Joe Kennedy and Cory Lidle were taken away too early in their lives. Experiencing not once, but twice as Rays fans grimaced and reacted to the horror of starter Tony Saunder’s breaking his left forearm in front of the home crowds.

The countless snippets of chatter and conversation over that 2,000 game span with an army of former and current Rays Bullpen members about important things like the birth of a child, or just congratulating a Rays player after a great outing. This blog is too small to even attempt to relay and include the massive amount of memories associated with those first 2,000 events. I truly hope I am physically around to celebrate the 4,000th, and even 5,000th Rays game, but we know that the game is immortal, while we are skin and bones, and nothing is guaranteed past 30-90 days anymore. The Rays memories formed by myself and the rest of the Rays Republic within the Trop could fill up a computer’s memory banks within nanoseconds.


Rays fans have seen odd and confusing moments like the odd multi-million dollar contracts of Rays (then) prospects Matt White and Bobby Seay, even before they threw their first professional pitch for the organization. Or the injury and contract craziness of Wilson Alvarez and Juan Guzman that still baffle the mind. But there have also been great Rays player finds like Jorge Cantu, Travis Phelps, Dan Wheeler and even the Bullpen reinvention of J P Howell that saved his MLB career. But we can not neglect the shock and horrors of Jose Canseco, Vinny Castilla and their “Hit Show” debacle that produced more ammunition to make the Rays a laughing stock team, than as a force to be reckoned with on the Trop’s diamond.

The ups and downs of this franchise have been both extreme and subtle at the same time. No one other than Rays pitcher Scott Kazmir predicted the magic that would ultimately unfolded in 2008. Kazmir made an honest comment that the Rays would make the Playoffs during a 2008 Spring Training interview. Most in the assembled media circle chuckled and pushed the comment as bravado and not a reality at the moment. But Kazmir’s brave comment that day turned into one of the Rays greatest moments as we saw the team raising of that banner to the rafter of Tropicana Field proclaiming the Rays the 2008 American League Champions.


We have seen former MLB greats like pitchers Hideo Nomo (2005), John Rocker (2003), Bobby Witt (1999), Norm Charlton (1999) and current Yankee Pitching Coach Dave Eiland (1998-2000) take the mound for the Rays. We have also watched the batting exploits of guys like Greg Vaughn (2000-2002), Julio Franco (1999), Travis Lee (2003, 2005-2006) and Aubrey Huff (2000-2006) taking their shots at the outfield seats surrounding the Trop. Highs and lows, like the tidal pools have plagued this franchise until in 2008, when it seemed the proverbial ship seemed to be destined for more smooth sailing than rough weather.


Spectacular catches and impossible throws have begun to become routine and common place to the Rays faithful. Walk-offs, stealing home for the lead, and putting down that elusive bunt to score or advance the runners were past and future hallmarks of these Rays. And the history grows again in a few hours.

Each of us had a unique perspective or thought process in remembering and reliving these great moments of Rays history. Not one of us sees any one action the same, or reacts with the same emotion on any given aspect of the game as it unfolds in front of us. But there is one general emotion and feeling that is felt by all of us daily about this Rays team, from that first moment on March 31,1998 to tonight’s contest. We are proud to be fans of the Tampa Bay Rays, and that pride shows on every one of our faces as we begin our trek through the next 2,000 Rays games…..Play Ball!


Rays Errors Cost Them the Series

Cardinals 5, Rays 4


Sunday was a celebration in St. Louis to honor a man who I met as a small child in Spring Training here in St. Petersburg, Florida. Stan Musial was a giant to me then as a kid, and is still a giant on any  ballfield.

Sunday was a day to honor Cardinals great number 6, and his legacy with the Cardinals. Stan came out to the stadium, swung his familiar swing to the crowd, and even gave a memorable speech to the throng of fans in the stands.

The team renamed the plaza in front of the stadium “Stan Musial Plaza,” and also established “Stan Musial Drive” as one of the throughfare surrounding the Busch Stadium.  If that was not enough, the Cardinals let Stan do his harmonica rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” on the television,and it was a remarkable sight to see the old guy smiling and having fun that day.


As you might remember, Stan Musial was the first major leaguer to hit a home run out of Al Lang Field in St. Pete.

He was also one of the small group that threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Rays first game against the Tigers’ on March 31, 1998.



Trivia Fact of the Night:

Until 1859, the umpires often seated in padded chairs behind homeplate.




Last Blog without the coveted “Good,The Bad,and The Ugly” in it. Tomorrow we are going into Oakland Stadium to take on the A’s. Now that we are back in the AL fold, we can fulfill our “GBU” feature again.



The Rays Carl Crawford hit a blistering solo homer to right center in the top of the 8th inning. The homer was Crawford’s 4th of the year. Carl is now hitting .282 for the season and has 28 RBI’s. Crawford is a lifetime .299 hitter during Interleague play.




I want to take a second to congradulate Trever Miller for passing Doug Creek and becoming the most prolific lefty in Rays history. Yesterday, Tever worked his 141st game as the Rays passing Creek.




Rays rookie third baseman Evan Longoria is currently number one in fielding percentage for his position in the AL with a .977 average. Longoria has been instrumental in the Rays renewed defense on the hot corner.




The Rays again were playing aggressive ball and committed a few baserunning blunders in the game.  After a missed call by the umpire at third yesterday, Rays manager Joe Maddon was on the umpire crew on any inconsistancy in their call on Sunday. Rays rightfielder Eric Hinske was thrown out at second in the top of the second inning. The Rays however did steal two bases on Sunday. B J Upton and Ben Zobrist stole second on Kyle Lohse.


Evan Longoria also got the offense started in the top of the second by scoring on the Eric Hinske double. Evan had connected on the ground rule double to deep right center earlier in the inning. Longoria  had a pair of two-hits nights in the first two games of this series, his first two of his career. Evan is batting .304 in his last 6 games.




 Rays reliever Dan Wheeler is probably glad to be leaving St. Louis tonight, and hopes to not see the Cardinals’ Ryan Ludwick any time soon. Ludwick victimized Wheeler twice in this series for huge homers, and was a constant threat on the basepaths.




Akinora Iwamura went 2-4 today with a double in the top of the 3rd inning. Iwamura scored after BJ Upton’s double in the same inning.

Aki is now hitting .276 for the season. He has also hit safely in 14 of his last 15 games for the Rays.  Since April 24, Aki has reached base via a hit or walk in 21 straight games and is batting .330 during that span.


Rays starter Edwin Jackson must feel a bite snakebit lately in his starts. In his last three starts, Jackson was in line for a win, but a bullpen error cost  Jackson a victory.

Edwin has 5 quality starts this season, tied for first on the team. Jackson went 5.1 innings against the Cards and gave up 1 run on 6 hits before leaving the game with a 3-0 lead. Jackson has now thrown 20  straight scoreless innings for the Rays. Edwin won his first two starts of the season, but is winless since the Mariners’ victory 7-0 at home on April 10th.


Rays shortstop Ben Zobrist had about 60 friends and family in the stands for Sunday’s game. He was not penciled in to start the game before Rays manager Joe Maddon sat Jason Bartlett out because of a flu bug going through the Rays clubhouse.

Zobrist made the most of his opportunity getting his first two hits of the season and raising his average to .333. Zobrist’ hit two doubles todays  and scored after stealing third and advancing on the Cardinals catchers  throwing error.


Because the Rays are playing on the West Coast tonight in Cali., the game will not be broadcast before 9:30 P.M. I will be posting my blog about the game at 8-ish on Tuesday to get some sleep and come up with more great stats and trivia for your enjoyment.  Have a great day and …………..”GO RAYS!”

Garza Goes Down

Instead of a Trivia question during the daily recaps, I will give you a wild
fact to soak in your baseball-filled minds are evolve with your
subconscious fluids to use at any SABRE convention,or for a possible free
beverage at your local pub/wing joint.

During a double header on May 2,1954,  St. Louis Cardinal, Stan Musial became
the first player to hit five (5) Home runs in the same day.

I  have been thinking for about a week on what to use this season to
illustrate the positives, negatives and so forth that happen in every game this


I decided to use my favorite spaghetti western as a basis for my daily look
at the prior night’s contest. I have always been a huge Clint Eastwood fan. My
Dad used to take us on the Sunday night Drive-In movie experience as a kid. This
generation has no idea of the great times, and wild weather, kids and antics
that can happen at an outdoor movie.


The best was sitting on the swings underneath the huge  three story screen
and watching the actors as 100 foot action figures. Anyways, this is the
premiere of the Rays’ “Good, the Bad and the Ugly”






The good is a two-fold version today. Major
kudos  for the Rays’ backup catcher Shawn Riggans. Riggs is hitting the cover
off the ball, and connected last night for a beautiful second row left-center
shot into the seats. Shawn also called a great game behind the plate and is
showing the potential we all knew he had to be our starting catcher. Shawn might
have only 14 at bats this season, but he has a .333 batting average at this
moment and is showing power by having 4 RBI’s and two extra base hits in his 4
hits this season.  Way to go Shawn.

Second is a no-brainer to me. Carlos Pena
might not be picking up where he left off last year, but he is surely hitting
the cover off the ball. Early in the game he hit one of the longest Sacrifice
fly in the Trop in a long time to Ichiro. The ball was only a few feet from the
warning track and was hit on a frozen rope. Of course, later the game he
hit his third homer of the young season to Right field to ignite the crowd.
Carlos now has 6 RBIs to go with his 3 H Rs.



Matt Garza leaves with head trainer Ron Porterfield after a nerve injury in the third.

Matt Garza has had a situation with  a radial
nerve irritation for a long time. He has said he usually can fight the pain and
pitch, but tonight the pain hit a new threshold and he could not control the
ball correctly anymore. He had thrown 4 straight balls to Mariners’ DH Jose
Vidro, and did not seem to be able to hit the edges of the
plate. He immediately called for Rays trainer Ron
Porterfield and after a short discussion with Ron and Joe Maddon, was replaced
by Scott Dohmann. Matt has been placed on the 15 day disabled list at the time
of this posting.

This is bad, since it opens another hole in
the rotation early in the season. What was once a solid top three rotation is
now becoming more patchwork as the days roll by here. The Rays subsequently
recalled pitcher  Jae Kuk Ryu from Durham, but his job will be in t Bullpen, not
to start any of the future games.


                                                And the
Ugly….really Ugly

The Umpire crew was not having a great
night.  Rays catcher Shawn Riggans had  asked for a “timeout” after catching a
foul ball behind the plate off the bat of Adrian Beltre. But the home plate umpire did not register
or grant the timeout. So in a bizzare, but heads up play, Seattles Jose Lopez
tagged up and moved to second to put the Mariners in scoring


Riggans “thought he called timeout,” Maddon said. “That’s a good base running
play by them. You can’t call timeout if the runner’s actually moving,” Maddon said. “The
umpires did the right thing by not permitting time out. There was nothing to
argue right there, but I did want to appeal it. Once I found out specifically
what [home-plate umpire] Marvin [Hudson] thought, I wanted to appeal to see if
the other umpires saw what he saw.”

But that was only the start of the wild and
weird on this opening night. Later in the night, B J Upton laced a beauty
down the rightfield line into the corner where it hit the wall and bounced out
in a wild angle. Upton, who lost his right shoe after leaving the batter’s box,
did not stop at second, but proceeded to slide into third
base. Post game photos and video showed after the
game that B J was safe and did not hit Beltre’s foot blocking the base. He had
snuck in the backdoor on him and was coming up safe when  the third base umpire
called B J out. After a short animated  look at the umpire, BJ headed to the
dugout as manager Joe Maddon was heading to third to debate the

After that, there was a close play at first
that went against the Rays. Throughout the rest of the night, the umpire crew
took a huge vocal response from the home crowd that made me proud. The crowd had
gotten into the game and were very vocal on the Upton play and on any close play
the rest of the night. After the game, as the umpiring crew was
leaving the field, they were met by another chorus of the “boo-birds” until
finally disappearing into the tunnel.


O's 'fun' continues vs. Texas

Ex Ray,and current Baltimore Oriole, Aubrey Huff went 4-4
last night with 4 RBI’s.  Huff’s night did not totally go without controversy.
In the sixth inning, he hit a  long fly ball that hit the yellow line on the top
of the Right field  outfield fence. The play was initially called a three-run
homer, but was overturned by the on field umpiring crew and changed to a two-run
double off the wall. “I initially thought it hit the red part behind the yellow line,” said Huff.
“That’s the way I saw it. I was giving [second-base umpire Sam Holbrook] the
business out there at second. After I came in and looked at the tape and saw
they were right, I was fortunate to get back on second and I said, ‘Sam, I’m
sorry.’ He said, ‘I know, I got it right.’ He knew.”

Huff was blasted by the Orioles fans during the Rays opening series for
comments he made about the town on the nationally syndicated “Bubba the Love
Sponge Show” in the off season. Huff , who is also batting .333 this season,
 might be finally back in the good graces of the Baltimore faithful since his 11
RBI’s is leading the M L B at this posting. By the Way, Aubrey brings his karaoke Krew into the Trop this weekend for a
three game series. Maybe we can have “Huffapaloosa II this weekend at a local
watering hole?

The End of a Spring Training Era

I am filled with both sadness and excitement on this perfect day for
baseball. I am about to see the end of an era in my hometown of St. Petersburg,
Florida. The local baseball faithful here in St. Pete., have been actively watching
and participating in M L B Spring Training games for over 80 odd years. And it all
comes to an end today. Our hometown team, the Tampa Bay Rays, will be training
in Port Charlotte, Florida  starting next season.


It is sad because my grandfather,who lived within a stones throw of former
Yankees’ training site, Huggins-Stengel Field, and spent many a day at the old
Busch complex off 62nd Ave. He spent many an afternoon near Cresent Lake watching Spring Training games
both there and at Waterfront Park. That my dad, who loved the game of baseball, and counted a few  MLB players
as friends could not say a fond farewell to this stadium that he saw built and
watched  hundreds of games there from 1947-1976.

Being a third generation baseball fan is a huge responsibility to me. It
involves my commitment, loyalty and a sense of knowing the sky will not fall
for my team. The ending of the era at Al  F. Lang Field/Progress Energy
Park/Waterfront Park is special to me.



Special because I spent a lot of my youth here in the Spring and Summers.
Both watching MLB and Minor League teams leave it all out on the dirt and grass.
Watching the St. Petersburg Devilrays win a championship, and the hometown M L B
squad wrestle for wins. Special because my old job with Pepsi Cola had me at the Training complex and
at Al Lang almost every day in the Spring furnishing them with product and
watching some of these players’ develop into stars. I would be on the phone
daily getting orders and securing the items for the team and its clubhouses,
both at Namoli,Al Lang, and the Trop.

 have pushed,pulled and sweated in these clubhouses’, under the grandstands,
and in the dark recesses of Tropicana Field. I loved working with the Rays’
and I consider them  very special people in my life. They have bestowed on me a place in their Wall of Fame for my loyalty, and I
have received numerous phone calls and smiles from the Executive and Front
Office staff when we see each other outside of the stadium. I also hold dear a
million memories that would fill a Myspace server. From winning players
“Jersey’s off their backs”, to winning roundtrip airfare to Seattle for a 4 game


But back to today’s final game.

It had all the fanfare and tradition of an Opening Day. You had the local
political forces out. Both teams’ starting players were announced and stood on
their respective foul line before  a barbershop quartet sang the National
Anthem. It was pomp and circumstance at it’s best.


There was a special flyover by a Air Force KC-135 tanker unit that had the
sell out crowd on their feet applauding the sight.


An anticipated event that did not happen today is that Hall of Famer, Monte
Irvin was not able to attend the game. He is a proud supporter of the Rays’ ,
the fans missed a rare opportunity to talk and get autographs from this great
former player. I send  personal best wishes and hope for a speedy recovery to Monte, and
hope to see him at the Home Opener this year. Another item I picked up on the sly was the fact that there were no special
collectibles or items listing the “last game” on them for sale in the entire
stadium. I thought the Rays’ missed a monetary gold mine here. But was informed
that the Rays’ wanted to pursue this angle, but M L B vetoed the idea. They  might
be afraid of a future conflict if a team ever trained here again. I can see
their point, but this stadium might be gone by that time.

You see, the Rays’ had a spot out in Right Center that was the spot for the
new proposed stadium’s home plate. The Rays hope that the city’s faithful voters decide in a  November
referendum to change the zoning for the area, or sell the stadium land to the
county for future ballpark considerations. Most of this is up in the air right now, but the Rays’ new complex is already
being constructed, and there is no turning back at this time.


The game featured the third sellout game( 6,759 attended) of the season for
the Rays’, and even had some odd places for fans, and creatures to watch the
last contest




They were treated to a great contest featuring three bunts for singles, a
ground rule double over the Left Center field wall. A long towering homer, and a
odd play in  Right Center by B J Upton and Eric Hinske. It saw Rays catcher Dioner
Navarro go 2-for3 with a perfect bunt single and a crushing hit to Left field. It
saw Carl Crawford hit two doubles, and Cincinnati’s Brandon Phillips hit a
triple. It was great contest no matter what the score. Of course, we know that
the Rays did not win today, but it was a thrill just to be there on this
historic day.



After the game, the Rays treated the fans to a hot dog,chips and soda
extravaganza in the Right field corner of the field. It was a time for the kids
to “run the bases”, for the all fans to toss a few balls around like the pros’,
and a time for all to celebrate this Spring’s great record and team. It is also
a time to recharge the batteries for the upcoming season. It was a great event,
and one that should be a yearly event, even in Port Charlotte next year.



I can not end this blog without a few pictures of Carlos Pena. My other half
is a true Carlos mark and she should get some good pictures of her guy in
action.  So, here are a few for your enjoyment:



In honor of the last game at Al Lang today, I am going to leave you two
Trivia questions. Please fell free to answer them in comments and I will let you
know if you are right, or might offer a few hints.  Good Luck

1,) In  1947, who hit the first Home Run in newly constructed Al F. Lang

2.) Who made the last out in today’s game?