Excitement Growing for 2009 Fan Fest

 

 


Here we are less than 24 hours until the players begin to get
comfortable in their chairs in Tropicana Field and they get their wrists loose
to sign hundreds of fans autographs at the Tampa Bay Rays Fan Fest.  How fitting
that this years event falls on February 14th. For it was the play of this team
that they tried to get America to fall in love with them in 2008. More or less
they got to complete that mission, but the 2009 campaign is for you to fall for
them all over again.

 

 
 

The
event will be the first time most of the fans have seen the American League
trophy since it was handed from player to player on the turf after the thrilling
Game 7 defeat of our division foe, the Boston Red Sox. The events is the rite of
spring that all Rays fans are excited about and anticipate the entire winter
long. It is the time of the year when we know that resin bags and glove oil is
only a few days away. That the crack of the bat in the crisp Florida air is only
moments away and that 70 mile drive will seem like minutes from the Tampa Bay
area to the new complex in Port Charlotte,
Florida.

 


But
tomorrow is about so many other things. It is about celebrating the new class of
2009 Rays/Pepsi  Fan Wall of Famer’s getting their jerseys and awards over on the
third base side of the stadium at noon. It is about the silent auction put on
during every Fan Fest where you can bid on prizes and even purchase some game
used and autographed merchandise from past Rays seasons. It is also a time to
stroll by the SABRE table and see just how well you know the past of both the
Rays and baseball in their yearly quiz to the fans. But as we all know, the real
excitement is watching the kids frolic and play in the interactive games during
the event.



                    
 
 

Watching a kid at bat in the smaller replica of Ebbets Field hit a
ball out over the plastic fencing, or even hit one back over the middle towards
the pitching machine. Then to watch them scream and clamor over to Raymond, our
fuzzy Sea Dog mascot who will dance, hug and sign autographs that will be pinned
to their walls for years. Or maybe you enjoy the stroll over to the media and
corporate areas to get posters and small keepsakes like a poster featuring the
on-air personalities of the Rays. Then put your name into the ringer for a
number of daily prizes picked during the event and announced over the
loudspeaker and on the Jumbotron.

 

Or
maybe you enjoy some of the past and will stand there for extended period of time
looking into the display cases at bats used by Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth and Ted
Williams displayed out in the middle of the field. Or maybe even stroll beyond
the clay of the Rays outfield at the many collectibles stands featuring Rays
items and the rest of baseball.  Or maybe the new events that started in 2008
will peak your interest from Metro PCS where a Rays player will phone someone
for you to show them your Rays commitment. All in all there are a hundred thing
to do during the day. And some of the best might just be to interact with other
Rays fans to celebrate last season, or chat about the possibilities of
2009.




 
 


But whatever brings you to the event, be sure not to miss one of
the two most popular events of the Fan Fest. The clubhouse tour. I know when I
was working with Pepsi a few seasons ago I got to see the remodeled clubhouse
before the rest of the fans because I was helping stock it with soda coolers and
merchandise. At that time it was one of the most beautiful places I had even
seen in my life. It was plush without the air of over indulgence and it seemed
like the perfect place to get ready for battle on the field. So it is a true
treat that people can stroll through the stalls and halls to see what players
get to live every day and every game while with the
team.

 


But
we all know what most people have come to the event for, it is the autograph
sessions that run from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. The event is one of the most popular
events of the entire Fan Fest, and for a good reason. I have noticed in the past
that certain players are easier in the beginning of the season for signature
than after the games begin, or even near the end of the season. Added to the
magic this year is a special event for Season Ticket holders where players will
be there for pictures with their special wristband holders. Also of importance
is the fact that this season, only kids under 14 and Season Ticket holders will
not have to pay for the right to obtain
autographs.

This
years Fan Fest will promote a $ 10 donation for a chance to obtain a wristband
to gain your favorite Rays players autograph during these session. At the bottom
of the blog, I will provide a list of the scheduled players and their times so
you can coordinate you day to get some face time with your team favorite. The
donation will go to benefit the Rays Baseball Foundation, which is the large
charity started by the Rays to promote giving and services throughout the Tampa
Bay Area. The Rays Baseball Foundation is committed to
supporting youth and education programs throughout the Tampa Bay region. In
2008, the Rays Baseball Foundation proudly invested more than $600,000 in youth
and education programs in the Tampa Bay area through grant programs and
community outreach initiatives.



 
 

Whatever you reason for coming out
for the Rays 2009 Fan Fest, it should be a exciting event with many of the fans
that got to cheer and support the team during their 2008 playoff campaign. Fans
will have a chance to take their picture with the 2008 American League trophy
during the event. The trophy might look small now, but think of how much it
means to this community and the fans. It is a symbol of the yearning of this
area and its fan to support and cheer for a leader. So, why are you not coming
to Fan Fest? If you live far away, that is okay, because I will try and post two
blogs in the next two days about the event. Who knows, it might just be such a
great event that more than two blogs finally get put down on the
Internet.


 
The excitement is building every
moment in me, and I will be sure to take a host of photos to try and covey the
excitement and the anticipation of Rays
baseball in 2009.  Before I go
today, let me include the signing schedule here provided by the Tampa
Tribune
so we can all coordinate our baseballs and bats before coming into
the stadium. Also listed in red will be the special
photo opportunities for Rays Season Ticket holders at the event.
Here is the autograph
schedule (subject to change):

 

 
 

12-1 p.m.

Table 1- John Jaso,
Gabe
Kapler

Table 2 – Juan
Salas,
Ray
Olmedo

Table 3 – Pat
Burrell, Randy Choate,

Table 4 – Tim Beckham, Reid
Brignac

Table 5 – Carl
Crawford


(Season-ticket
holders line, photo only) – James Shields, Fernando
Perez

 
1-2 p.m.

Table 1 – Joe Nelson, Chad
Bradford

Table 2 – B.J.
Upton ,
Willy
Aybar

Table 3 – Chad
Orvella, Michel Hernandez, Derek
Rodriguez

Table 4 -
Julio
DePaula
, Jacob
McGee

Table 5 – Jon
Weber, Jason Cromer,
Calvin
Medlock


(Season ticket
holders line, photo only) – Evan Longoria, Matt
Garza

 
2-3 p.m.

 
Table
1 – Matt Joyce, Grant Balfour

Table 2 – Carlos Pena, Jason
Hammel

Table 3 – Craig
Albernaz,
Ray
Sadler

Table 4 – Jeremy
Cummings, Elliot Johnson

Table 5 – Neil Frontz, Chris Nowak, Dan
Wheeler


(Season ticket
holders line – photo only) – Dioner Navarro, Andy
Sonnanstine

 
3-4 p.m.

Table 1- Steve Henderson,
Joe
Maddon

Table 2- Wade
Davis, David Price

Table
3- Dave Martinez,
George
Hendrick

Table 4- Lance
Cormier,
Brian
Shouse

Table 5- Chris
Richard, Jason Childers, Dewon Day

 
(Season
Ticket Holders Line- Photo Only)- Jason Bartlett, J.P.
Howell

 
4-5 p.m.
 
Table 1
-Bobby Ramos,
Jim
Hickey

Table 2 – James
Houser, Mitch Talbot

Table 3 – Shawn Riggans, Justin
Ruggiano

Table 4 – Scott
Kazmir, Carlos Hernandez

Table 5 – Brian Anderson, Tom Foley, Todd
Greene


(Season ticket
holders line, photo only) – Troy Percival, Jeff Niemann

Photo credits for today’s blog go to  http://www.Raysbaseball.com, Porkfork6 and Mother of Einstein on flicker.com

20 Comments

Rays – have a great time! I think it’s great that they raise some money for their charity at this event also. I look forward to seeing all your pictures! I want to see one of you with the Rays’ Mascot!

Julia
http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com/

I do not know if I am ready to be in a picture with the new Raymond.

I was friends with the person who last donned the costume and I have a bit more bitterness to let out before I embrace the Blue one. But weirder things have happened in life.

I am excited to just welcome Pat Burrell and see Troy Percival up on two legs. Also not lost in the commotion is the fact I am still trying to get my Carlos Pena Texas Ranger bats signed from way back when he was a rookie.

I will probably do a photo blog, then a written blog on Sunday of all the events. But that will depend on how much sleep I get traveling down to Port Charlotte to meet the team on Sunday mornings workout.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

That clown looked a little scary. I hope the Rays have a friendlier lookin one this year! Safe travels and have a good time.
Tom
http://rockymountainway.mlblogs.com

I never thought of that clown as scary until you mentioned it. He is a bit odd at that lol.

Thank goodness he was not wearing a uniform, or it might be “Attack of the Killer Clowns” all over again.

I always have a great time at this event. It is one of my 5 greatest times of the year.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlbogs.com

You are too kind to us. Thanks for the nice words on our last post. And good luck this season… even though, we are pulling for the Yanks.
http://themax.mlblogs.com

Hope you have a great time! Getting a tour of the clubhouse would be my favorite part, along with the autographs. Looking forward to your report.

http://janeheller.mlblogs.com

Max dudes,

I would expect nothing less of you proudly throwing up the Yankee credo in 2009. Nothing wrong with healthy competition. I am not sure if I should wish you luck, or hope you do not get the injury bug……….either might be a curse in 2009.

But, at least you guys ( Max blog ) will end up on top.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

My actual thing I am looking forward to is a picture with my buddy J P Howell. I was not able to be there after the conclusion to Game 5.5 and tell him how great a year he had and not to dwell on his last inning of the year.

But you can bet tomorrow we will laugh and have fun while they click the picture. And seeing a new class of Fans inducted into the Wall of Fame is cool. If you ever go into the Ted Williams’ museum at the Trop. Check out the class of 2004, and you will see me smiling away. Doesn’t seem like almost 6 years already.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

I love seeing pics from fan fest. I will be doing a blog about the Giants fan fest this weekend or early next week. I finally got to see the Giants Clubhouse.

~King of Cali
http://kingofcali.mlblogs.com/

I have never missed one. Even when I was stationed in Seattle for one season, I got here for Fan Fest, then went back out to Puget Sound right after the weekend.

Always find something new every year at the event.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Rays Renegade: I hope that you have a great time and bring home some autographs and pictures as well. I hope that there is a great turnout
-Elizabeth
http://redsoxgirl46.mlblogs.com

I was so hoping the Rays Fan Fest would be next week, so I could go and see Pat Burrell! I have a photo of him and my son that I have been trying to get signed for YEARS! But, I won’t be in Clearwater until the 20th :O( Oh well! Right on time for the Phillies Fan Fest though :O)

Jenn
http://philliesphollowers.mlblogs.com/

I hope you have a great time! I agree, visting the clubhouse of your favorite team is truly amazing. Just knowing that the guys come there before and after every game is just something that’s hard to wrap your mind around when you’re standing right there. Remember to take lots of pictures!
Alex
http://bloggingwithanaltitude.mlblogs.com/

Have a great time at Fan Fest, it sounds like a blast! And hopefully this year’s Rays squad will give its fans as much to cheer about as last year’s group did. Yes, I admit it, I really want to see the Rays win the AL East again this year. And if the Twins fail to make the playoffs, you bet I’ll be cheering for the Rays to win it all.
-Erin
http://plunking-gomez.mlblogs.com

Renegade, sounds like a lot of fun! I’m looking forward to reading your coverage of the event. Hope you get some great autographs and photos!
Sue
Rants, Raves, and Random Thoughts

I have been blessed by knowing the right people both on the field and in the front office over my years supporting the team. While I am there, I have few people who will be steering me towards certain things, but that is the fun of it all for me……….checking out the entire place by 10 a.m. before the regular crowds get into the building.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Buck Martinez was there today at Fan Fest chatting with the crowd, and he sees the Twins doing major things in the A L Central this year.

He also spoke on how they had a great series against the Rays right before the 1-game playoff with the Chicago White Sox, and he thinks that they are truly the team to beat as a sleeper in the A L this year.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

I will do my best to get whatever pictures I can today.

I never know what kind of mood I will be in until I see the crowd. If it gets nuts, you will see me sitting in my seat near the stage 1 area just chatting with a few players as they go up and out of the autograph area.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Philles Phollower,

I think you might have a chance to get him at the Feb 28th game. I was chatting with someone, and unless they have a nagging injury or another problem like a split squad game, all the players will be coming up to Clearwater since they only play a handful of games in Pinellas county this spring.

He is a great guy, I saw him yesterday at the training complex in Port Charlotte, and he is anxious to get going. I also talked to him about his love for cooking and hooked him up with a 5-star chef I know about in mid-county for him to try out a fantastic gourmet meal.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

I talked with Brian Killingsworth, who is one of the teams marketing gurus, and he expected in the neighborhood of 35,000 plus as a guesti-mate.

That would make it one of the best Fan Fests in the team history. But you would expect noitng else after the great season they had in 2008.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

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