Rays Maddon on new look: "It feels right"
Manager Joe Maddon, 35 Rays players and coaches, and more than a dozen team execs, including principal owner Stu Sternberg, president Matt Silverman and executive VP Andrew Friedman, all got their heads shaved this morning in a fundraiser for the Pediatric Cancer Foundation.
"Perfect,'' Maddon said after seeing the new look. "That's outstanding.''
There were plenty of jokes, from third-base coach Tom Foley requesting some hair gel, to pitcher David Price asking Friedman if without hair he now would be under 5 feet tall, to James Shields suggesting he now looked more 23 than 30, to Sternberg wondering is they'd score more runs since the players would be faster, but also the serious nature of the effort.
Nancy Crane, executive director of the Pediatric Cancer Foundation, said she couldn't have been more pleased with the turnout. "I don't think words can describe it - it's amazing,'' she said. "From the top down, it's a hair-raising, fund-raising event.''
The overall Cut for a Cure event raised $258,000 last year, and she said they hope to do as well or better this year. Donations can be made online, and a $10 donation can be made by texing CUT to 50555.
The Rays got involved when Lightning star Vinny Lecavalier, who has been involved with the cause, asked Maddon to take part.
Maddon was among the first to go Thursday - after starting pitcher Wade Davis and catcher Jose Molina - and said he was looking forward to it, having let his hair grow - and evolve into an undetermined color - over the last few weeks in anticipation. "It feels clean,'' he said. "It feels cool. It feels right.''
The transformation, performed by team barber Wilber Bonilla and a squad from Studio Uno in Spring Hill, was extreme. Pitching coach Jim Hickey - who had his own well-coiffed look altered - said when he first looked over the group, "I honestly didn't recognize him,'' he said.
Sternberg decided to participate because of the cause: "How could I not?"
Friedman was a hold out until he saw his bosses submit, and said not only was it for a good cause, but they will be able to look back for some good laughs, some more than others. "I would agree with that,'' he said.
The Rays were also sporting Fortune Favors the Bald T-shirts they plan to make available next month in exchange for donations.
The foundation brought along some young patients, who helped out with the cutting, and their families to share in the experience. "You see our kids and our parents standing here and what it means to them is hope for the future,'' Crane said. "Hopefully this can raise some money for research, which is is what we fund, and raise awareness, that pediatric cancer research is vastly under-funded.''
Shields said: "It's going to be nice not having to do my hair. It's a good cause. This is what it's all about, this is what the Rays are all about. It's nice to come out here and do this. And it's great to see everyone out here supporting the cause. Hopefully we raise a lot of money.''