Rays ALDS Post Game Party
I have to be total truthful here, but I have benn blessed with some great friends and associates in the Rays family since I first came to work close to them in 2004. I took a position that year as a Pepsi Special Events Coordinator, and that job envisioned me spening a huge amount of time with the brass and general good guys and gals within the Rays executive and players clubhouses. I have to say without a doubt it was the best thing to happen in my life, besides the birth of my daughter.
In that position I got to build displays during Fan Fest, got to deliver and set up pre-Spring Training trailers and stock the Training complex with product and supplies. But the best part of the job was interacting with the great people who have been in the Rays’ employment for a long time.
That is why it made me so proud before the ALDS Game 1 when John Higgins and the 51 employees who have been here for so long got to take part in the First Pitch of the Rays’ first Playoff game ever. I got to see people like Mike Yodis holding that 1998 sign with pride and the kid-like enthusiams that is abundant in this young franchise.
I also got to see old friend’s like Diane, the former secretary to Vince Namoli who has seen so much in the past 10 plus years. And to see Bill Weiner stroll out there knowing he helped build this championship team. I was clapping like a mad fool and was proud to call those people friends.
I was so excited about the series from that moment on, but I had missed my chance to salute and personally congradulate alot of these people. I got the luck chance to do just that after Game 2, when a friend gave me a coupon to attend the after game party up in the “sandlot” portion of the stadium. If you do not know where this region is at the Trop., you might not be alone. I have been into nooks and corners in this stadium most have never seen, but I did not know where this section was located until I got on the escalator by the Rotundra and rose skyward.
I was greeted by faces I have known for years in the Sales and Executive offices of the team, and was surrounded by many new faces that I would learn on that night. I got to the front of the line after a bit, and saw a old friend Erin Buscemi at the door helping gather the party invites and I was presented another great AL East Championship T-shirt. I could never get enough of those shirts, so it was a pleasant surprise.
As I went through the hallway, past the cigar bar out into the outer patio area of the Trop., I was met by a large crowd of joyious fans and employees still thrilled about the night’s events, and the future of this championship run. There was a very elegant buffet set up in a back meeting room behind the cigar bar that had some of the best finger food you could ever imagine.
One thing I learned early on about this ownership group, they know where their loyalties are the strongest, and the people who work the hardest. And they reward this group for their work and dedication with high praise and it shows. The waiter’s and waitresses’ mingled with Aki tuna and a chicken with spicy peanut sauce that just set you in the mood for fun. The small finger cheesecakes and chocolate covered strawberries were a fantastic touch and a inviting treat.
But it was the mingling and the hand shaking and hug from people you knew and respected and truly know the both deserve and appreciate the positives and the final piece falling in place for the Rays. Be it the people who don the costumes, or the woman who has been always smiling when you went into the Sales Office (Kristi), you knew that this night was only the beginning for them this year. I saw my Season Ticket Rep. (Craig) enjoying the moment and chatting with people, I saw an ols Ticket rep (Josh) who had gotten a mohawk and was sporting it with pride.
But it was the face of friends in the groundskeeping crew (Jeff) or the guys who help keep the stadium running (Scott, Todd, and Chris) who seemed to be finally relishing the success of the team. I was asked by alot of people if I was going to meet the plane again, and if you know me, you know that answer already.
Seriously, it was my time to tell them I envy their success andthat this will be a cherished memory for them for life. I wandered into the cigar bar and saw one of the Marketing gurus (Brian) talking with WWE superstar John Cena while watching the Red Sox vs Angels contest. I was lucky enough to have a picture taken with Cena, but I was sure to express my thanks and let him know I thought his speech at the Rally was one of the highlights of the day.
He told me that he is anxious to us hopefully having the Red Sox in here for the ALCS series. He had gotten alot of heat for the cellphone call to Red Sox’s first baseman Sean Casey at the Rally, but I could tell by his face, it was well worth it all. This is a guy who was living in Boston before 2000, and was a devote Red Sox follower, but upon moving down to this area, followed his new home’s team, the Rays. It is an example that just becuase you had past loyalties, you can still love the northeast without always loving it’s teams.
I strolled outside and looked skyward in the courtyard just off the glass walkway and saw this amazing star beaming off the concrete of the Rotundra. I like the way this looked on this prefect night outside. It was located right over the D J area and was blazen on the wall for all to see from the roadway and walkways below. Truly an amazing sight to see on a great night.
I then looked right below it and saw this amazing collection of Rays related logos and artwork. It was emblazoned with the Rays new AL East Championship logo and had an awesome looking golden 1890′s style baseball player profile next to the collection. I was telling everyone I saw it would make a perfect background for a photo if they needed one for the night. I mingled a bit around the crowd again saying hello to ther people in th organization like my favorite Community Relations person ( Trisha) and my old Security friends ( Eric). It was a wild night that I was thrilled to be a part of and it will be a moment to remember forever.
As I was leaving, Erin asked me who had invited me, and I told her I was given the invite from a friend within the vendor community. If I treaded on on the wrong ground I want o apologize to her and the Rays. But I got to see a side of this franchise that made me proud and yearned to want to be a part of the group. This is a young, and young-at-heart group that will be having success for a long time. Who would not want to have a moment to see just how well everyone is enjoying and appriciating this moment in history.
Hopefully in the next few days, we can all be poppin corks and popping cans to celebrate another step in the upward and onward road for the Rays this year. I was blessed to be given a glimpse into the inter sanction of the Rays braintrusts and hearts and souls in their office. And let me stress to you all that the Rays might be winners on the nfield, but this group has been winning battles for over 10 years to get to this moment in time to rejoice and celebrate the Rays.