Thank You David…..Simply THANK YOU!
I have to admit, when I first heard some of the Spring comment from then Tampa Bay Rays prospect David Price’s mouth back in 2008 I wonder if he arrogant or just knew something we all somehow could not see at that moment in time.
How wrong was my thought process on that day because Price did not only deliver on his statement way back in 2008, he has backed it up every contest since up until his eventual trade today not a half hour short of the Trade Deadline finish line.
Going to be weird thinking of Price as a Detroit Tiger. He always seemed at ease in the Rays Carolina Blue unis, never seeming to delight in donning the darker Rays home or away jerseys, just bathing as much as possible in the team’s blues and whites.
Price was even on the turf of the old Tilted Cap that is Tropicana Field today throwing on his off-day with fellow Rays hurler Jeremy Hellickson just 200 yards away from the Rays War Room that eventually cast a different end of his 2014 tale.
But so not fret Rays Republic for Price will be back sooner than you think.
Because the Rays and Tigers still have to play a mid-week, 3-game series under the Teflon dome from Tuesday, August 19 to Thursday, August 21. It could be the last chance for any of us in 2014 to see see Price on the AstroTurf, and I think we can almost guarantee Price will be out working the sidelines chatting with old and new friends.
But there could be an additional huge cherry on the top of this series if the Tigers arrange their pitching matchups in a way that Price could take the hill during that 3-game stint and get a righteous standing ovation from the fans he has thrilled ever since his promotion to the “Show” back in September 2008.
From Astro to Zorilla Price has truly been a class act showing leadership, relieved team stress through humor and has ( to myself personally) exceeded every expectation, every social engagement, and certainly been a prime example of the true essence that makes up the “Rays Way” of baseball.
I even shagged a baseball during that day with the old Yankee Stadium logo attached and Price signed it for me without pausing for a second. I still cherish that ball sandwiched between the signed MLB debut balls of Evan Longoria and James Shields
I was also lucky enough to see his hands go skyward after finishing off the Boston Red Sox in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series and sip some of that sweet nectar as he and the team paraded down the First Base line post game.
Was even lucky enough in 2011 as Price wearing that Carolina Blue tartan-themed post season shirt took a swig of bubbly supplied by one of my Bullpen friends.
I was also lucky enough to get to know Price on many occasions on and off the turf at charity events, Season Ticket holder events and just chilling by the Bullpen seats after a bullpen session. Taken numerous images and videos of the daily defacing of his bobble head cartoon image on the Right field wall, and seen him become a well respected and admired figure among his adopted community.
I know there is a lot of “I’s” here, but truly what Price brought to not only me, but the entire Rays Republic is knowing hard work, believing in yourself and your teammates brought historic memories to this franchise and their fan base.
Was simply a pleasure knowing this guy who might have irked me for a moment, but rose to the occasion so many times I lost count. Even though he only pitched once every 5 days, he always took this team on his back doing whatever needed to be done.
He was the Rays biggest cheerleader, their clubhouse voice of reason and a guy who grew into a leadership role for the pitching staff and accepted it with grace, confidence and a hint of calculated indifference.
If there was an All-Star designation for value to his team, Price would have been a 7 time All-Star.
I’m personally looking forward to that mid-August mid-week series with the Tigers. Because I want to find Price on the sidelines, catch his eye and shake his hand and truly thank him for not only the memories, but the role model and man he became while a Ray.
Thank you David…..Truly THANK YOU.