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Ben Montgomery on Plant City knuckleball princess Chelsea Baker and her big day with the Rays



An Encounters set for tomorrow's paper:

Chelsea Baker was nervous.

So much could go wrong. She could hit Evan Longoria's sweet face with a pitch. She could end David Price's elbow. She could come out and throw like 50 Cent.

And everybody would be watching — her friends and teammates, the gaggle of reporters, Tampa Bay Rays skipper Joe Maddon.

She never expected any of this. A girl baseball player, a 17-year-old girl baseball player, throwing batting practice — knuckleballs, no less — inside a for-real Major League stadium to men who make millions of dollars.

Relax, her mother told her.

Relax, her step dad said.

On the ride from Plant City to Tropicana Field she put her mitt on her head and closed her eyes. Read it all.

[Last modified: Monday, June 23, 2014 9:50pm]


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