Rays Fan “Love” Fest set for Feb 14th
Just got the official word from the Rays that the 2009 Fan Fest will be held on Saturday, February 14th from 11 – 6 p.m. This is the same day that the pitchers and catchers will be reporting to Port Charlotte for Spring Training. I am getting the distinct feeling that the team will actually be reporting to Tropicana Field, then be bused or take their personal modes of transportation down to the new Spring Training site later that day.
So here we are within 17 days of seeing our boys of summer again on the signing stages within the field of Tropicana Field. It has been a long off season, but thank goodness it is getting shorter every day. Again we can mingle and chat with fellow Rays fans about the upcoming season, the team’s trades and signings since October 2007, and most of all bask in the glow of the 2008 American League champion Tampa Bay Rays.
As usual, there will be a Rays/Pepsi Fan Wall of Fame induction ceremony in which the 12th class of members will be presented their official team jerseys and trophies starting at 12 p.m. that day. I know first-hand the honor and the excitement that comes with getting a nod to be on the Wall of Fame. I was inducted in 2004 along with ESPN personality and Rays Season Ticket holder Dick Vitale. I still have the sign from his seat that day and I will be seeking you out in 2009 to sign it finally.
If you have never been to a Rays Fan Fest, it is a free event for all ages and will feature events and a live silent auction of Rays collectibles. Also, you will be able to take your picture in the Rays home dugout and go on a locker room tour to see how beautiful the Rays home locker rooms are, and get a glimpse into Rays Manager Joe Maddon’s office. Do not forget to look on the window of Rays Clubhouse Manager, Chris Westmoreland’s office for photos and great events featuring our Rays.
There will be events for the kids as usual, like the home run derby event and the batting cages. Also there will be a timed 90 foot run to see how you stack up with your friends running the base paths like the team. But the event that everyone comes out to, is the player signings. At select times, the Rays will gather in four clusters of signing area to meet and greet the fans for 2009. Among the most anticipated signers is former Phillie Pat Burrell, who the Rays signed in the off season. But as usual, you will have players and coaches from both the major and minor league squad here for sign items for you………the fans.
Every year the event seems to get better and better. Also on tap will be giveaways from the Florida Sports Network ( FSN) and local radio stations, including the Rays new flagship station for game broadcasts, 620 WDAE, the Sports Animal. Progress Energy and several other sponsors of the team will also be on hand to also provide information and exciting gifts for selected fans. Behind the baseball diamond will be baseball collections and also the second annual Metro PCS event where you can get an actual Rays player to chat on your phone to someone. There event was so popular last year that the line was so long some people did not get to partake in the event.
And as usual, the Rays Sales teams will out in force to help you with selection of Season Tickets, or oyher ticket packages at the event. If you are thinking of buying tickets, but are not sure, the Rays will again be offering the 20 game vouchers that can be used throughout the season for 20 selected games of your choice. This is a great option for the fan that doesn’t know when he might have time ti attend, but wants to support the team. Multi-colored sheets will be located on seats throughout the stadium for fans to have a gander at the full season or partial season prices for that section. Sales people will be happy to chat with you about any section of the stadium for the upcoming season.
Also on hand on the field will be the 2008 American League trophy won by the team after they defeated the Boston Red Sox in Game 7 to earn the right to play in the World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies. There has been word that people will be able to take pictures of the trophy, but no confirmation of personal photos or standing with the award.
But as usual, the event is to celebrate a new season and a renewed vigor about our hometown Tampa Bay Rays. I hope you can attend, and I look forward to meeting some of you there to celebrate and chat about the Rays.