Rays Tweet Up Was a Total Success
It is always great when you see a professional sports organization take the budding social media scene into its arms and embraces it, not try to smother it. The perfect example of this was the Tampa Bay Rays first Rays Tweet up held yesterday during the always entertaining Parks and Recreation Day.
Social media has grown into its own monster with instant responses and video that can pop up at any moment of a moment of regret or even a memory to cherish. The Rays front office has taken to the social media community with the @RaysRepublic Twitter page that is as informative as it is comedic.
Got to be honest here, I could not sleep a wink on Wed night thinking about the possibilities and the networking that could evolve out of just hanging with a few fellow Rays Republic members while answering trivia question and eating some great food.
So you know I was there when the doors of Gate1 opened wide, fresh with that awesome 72 degree goodness and quickly went down to see my buddy Bob (Rays Fan Host) who runs the Papa John’s Bullpen Cafe. I was one of the dozen to glide into the green floored party area just a sweat ball away from the Rays Bullpen and the Rightfield line.
Was a good memory as I gazed at my seat just a foot beyond this party area’s wall. Rays pitchers came out early and did some soft toss with Alex Cobb and Jeremy Hellickson beginning the Rays parade of hurlers. As they tossed, the crowd in the party area grew (40 people had bought pre-event tickets) with each dawning their new white Rays Tweet Up customized T-shirt.
Even met a Rays Republic member who is also an organizer of another Tweet Up (FREE) at the Salvador Dali Museum down by the waterfront next Thursday. I know I have plans to go down and participate, hopefully more in the Rays Republic will go and support a great local St. Petersburg and world-wide attraction.
I decided to take up a seat just beyond the voice range of Rays Bullpen Coach Bobby Ramos and Bullpen Catcher Scott Cursi. Still seems like I have know Scott forever, and it is great to hear his new son is growing like a weed and in great health.
Even more excited to hear Ramos is feeling tip top after a bit of a upper respiratory aliment that zapped that usual Ramos charisma and Salsa inspired moves. Ramos is truly one of the Rays treasures, with stories and instruction that can be witnessed firsthand at every Rays contest.
Before Rays starter Wade Davis hit the Bullpen mound to warm up, Rays catcher Kelly Shoppach (@ShopHouse10) brought over his own personalized Rays Tweet Up T-shirt and I pointed to the girl (@skittykatz ) next to me. She was not a huge Shoppach fan, but you could see in her eyes she was flabbergasted not only did the Rays newest team Twitter supporter bring his shirt, he had signed it.
Thought it was a great gesture and made me more of a Shoppach fan. Great thing about the social media, it can bring guys like Shoppach out in the open so all can see he is a good guy who just loves the game and truly knows the fans are important. For that, I salute you Kelly.
As the game began I spoke for a moment with Rays RP Jake McGee and complimented him on his new velocity and movement on the ball. McGee informed me he had a small mechanical glitch, that he was turning his shoulder inwards too much and it was robbing him of the full pitching motion. Small change to his mechanics, and it is paying huge dividends for the Rays pitching staff.
Each inning @RaysRepublic offered up a trivia question for the group to answer, and I missed the first one, but aced the second question to get my name out of the running for prizes early. Question was what team brought the Rays their highest 3-game attendance figures?”….It was easy, it was the Atlanta Braves in 1998. For my Rays knowledge, I got a signed Matt Joyce baseball already authenticated and in a cube….Sweet!
Everywhere I saw names upon T-shirts I had either known or seen online over the past few months. Smiling faces like @5wa, @savanna, @skittykatz,MarissajustMay, @StrawHatCook and @MandaGator. Even saw old friends @JordiScrubbings, @Lovebees and the WDAE and Rays Radio man in the booth, the always vocal @Steve Carney.
From the free samples of the Trop’s concession stands BurgerUp to Cuban sandwiches to Everglades Smokehouse BBQ nachos, it was a day to remember. I know @skittykat and @savanna after doing some Rays fashionista primping also won signed baseball in the trivia questions (I might have helped a tad).
With extra innings came time for all of us to chat with Rays Television savant Todd Kalas and our speaker of the day @Darrenrovell. I loved the fact Rovell went from table to table talking with the Rays Tweet Up participants, even taking time to chat about the social media concept or just about sports.
Finally the Rays pulled out the “W” with some incredible clutch performances, especially from Rays rookie catcher Honey Nut (Robinson) Chirinos. Speaking of catchers, John Jaso told me he was feeling great and almost ready to go again. It is so wild that in less than 2 seasons, a position we thought was vacant of talent (catching) suddenly has so many up and coming Rays stars.
Was amazing this Emmy Award winning journalist was open, honest and even a bit enlightening to subject, Twitter aids and things going on in the background and on the forefront of the media explosion. Heck Rovell asked if anyone like Google+, and you know I was the only one to raise their hand. Hurt a bit, but they were my in-direct employer for the last 5 months.
As we left the event, the Rays handed each and every one of us a goodie bag that contained a few of the great promotional items that us over 15 years of age would not get normally. I was shocked and pleased to get a DJ Kitty puppet, the Joe Maddon bank, Evan Longoria Gold Glove replica and last but not least, the Johnny Damon mohawked figurine.
This event was a total success, and the Rays front office, especially the promotions and marketing department hit a grand slam on their first attempt of such an event. I know in th next fews day this same department will meet and discuss the event in full.
Hopefully there can be another one planned in the future so other members of the Rays Republic who could not attend today will get a chance to match names, faces and personalities with so many of these great Rays Twitter followers. I am already giddy and the event is not even planned yet.
Here is a Flickr link to my Photostream with an entire album of photos of the event.