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Hoo-Ray for the Tampa Bay Rays!

On March 31, 1998, a epic event occurred in St. Petersburg, Florida – after decades of being a real baseball town with spring training, baseball events, and building a major league style stadium, we hosted our first Major League Baseball game. Now, 19 seasons later, our community is still enjoying the overwhelming benefits of being one of only 30 cities who are fortunate enough to host a major league team. (There are approximately 10,016 official cities in the United States – so being one of actually 29 U.S. cities to host a Major League Baseball team is pretty special.)

As a baseball super fan, I very much appreciate our team, and even our stadium.  I have visited and attended a game at all 30 major league ballparks and very few hold a candle to our dear Tropicana Field.  At some of the other MLB stadiums, I have endured blistering heat, unbearable cold, rain delays that lasted for several hours, hostile fans, deafening airplanes flying directly overhead, sunburns, parking snarls, unreasonably exorbitant ticket prices, tight seating, a car break-in, skimpy concession offerings…..and each time I think about our stadium and how very awesome it really is – we have none of these unpleasantries -and a day at the Trop is always a treat and a fun and relaxing experience.

image (3)I also want to shout out to our stellar announcers. DeWayne Staats, Brian Anderson, Todd Kalas, Orestes Destrade, Dave Wills, Andy Freed, and the rest of our announcing team who are award winning and are some of the best in the business.  We mostly hear from them when we are watching on TV or tuning in to a radio broadcast, but if you are fortunate enough to run into them in person, they always take the time to greet and appreciate fans.

And then there is our awesome Rays team themselves – led by manager Kevin Cash. Yes we miss Captain Joe, but Kevin Cash has brought his own brand of heart and soul to our team, and certainly has continued to motivate the team with the unique brand of positivity that was part of Joe Maddon’s repertoire.  Do I have a favorite player? I really enjoy watching every Rays player work their magic but I especially love seeing Steven Souza, Jr. make an impossible play, slide into a base safely or hit one out of the park…. not that I pick favorites.

Simply put, the Tampa Bay Rays are awesome!  No matter whether they are on a winning streak or not, we are so lucky to have a hometown team, one of the best stadiums in the major leagues, and a roster of players who truly bring their heart and soul to every outing.

We should all be super fans, attend games, cheer wildly, ring our cowbells, become season ticket plan participants, wear our Rays gear often, attend away games, promote and encourage the team in our social media posts and in our private conversations. Because at the end of the day, having a hometown team benefits every St. Petersburg and Tampa Bay resident – economically, socially and culturally.  Think about how St. Petersburg has changed and evolved in the last 19 years… and it all started with  a baseball stadium built on a movie line promise….”if you build it, they will come.”


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