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1215379 2038-01-18 05:00:00.0 UTC 2038-01-18T00:00:00.000-05:00 2012-02-15 08:30:00.0 UTC 2012-02-15T03:30:00.000-05:00 insider-tips-for-enjoying-rays-fan-fest Published 2012-02-15 08:30:10.0 UTC 2012-02-15T03:30:10.000-05:00 features/events DTI 87586365 If only the Tampa Bay Rays could draw crowds to their games like they will see Saturday at the hugely popular Rays Fan Fest. The difference is it's a free day for baseball nerds, mega fans and families to find a wide range of ways to get into the baseball spirit. Manager Joe Maddon's Thanksmas meal of meatballs and pierogies is already sold out, so the fans seem poised. We asked Fan Fest veterans for their best insider tips on how to enjoy the day, depending on what you are looking for Saturday at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. SEEING A PLAYER Aside from waiting in a seriously long autograph line (count on a two- to three-hour wait for the most popular players) there are still ways to shake a hand or snap a picture with a coach or player — Carlos Peña is scheduled to be in the house, after all. • The Reading With the Rays station is just what it sounds like, Rays players and coaches reading with kids. They are also on hand in the high-fiving area when the kids run the bases and on the call-a-friend stage, where a fan gets to have a Rays player, such as, below from left, Sean Rodriguez, David Price or Sam Fuld, call a friend for them. What a way to impress Grandpa! They don't sign autographs there, but it's a good chance to snap a picture and give your favorite players and coaches a high five. • Radio and TV stations set up broadcast tents down by home plate, which is the best place to catch a player or coach on his way from an interview to an autograph signing. Johnny Damon was shaking hands, chatting with fans and high-fiving folks running around the bases last year. • Joe Maddon's Thanksmas dinner has sold out already, so keep this in mind for next year. For $50 in advance, $25 for kids, you get a unique opportunity to chat with Joe over a plate of his homemade spaghetti with meatballs and pierogies. • If you do decide to brave the autograph lines, you will have two dozen former big-leaguers to seek out who will sign for free, along with the radio and TV reporters you've come to know, not to mention current Rays players and coaches. There also is the option of buying a $50 wristband that grants the opportunity to get autographs from some of the more popular Rays players. All proceeds benefit the ALS Association. For even bigger rollers, the Exclusive Signing Opportunity is new this year. For $200-$400 you can get one of just 15 spots for the most popular players and a wristband for the other autographs. See tampabay.rays.mlb.com/tb/fan_forum/autograph.jsp for details. CAN'T MISS • One of our favorites is the batting cage, where you can hit 'em into the stands and feel the awesomeness of a home-run hitter. Bopping one into the cheap seats (even if it's a Wiffle ball) is so satisfying. • Be sure to check out the tours of the players' locker room. That line moves pretty fast, and the view inside is pretty cool. • Go ahead, run the bases. How many chances are you going to get to run the bases of a Major League stadium? This used to be just for the kids, but this year anyone who wants to can round the bases. • Get photos with Rays mascot Raymond and DJ Kitty (it was an actual kitty in that viral video but our favorite hep cat has now been turned into a mascot suit). SUPER FAN ZONE • There are bobbleheads, giveaway T-shirts and cowbells that are dirt cheap. But don't miss the Rays Charity Yard Sale. You'll find prices from $5 to $5,000 for memorabilia actually collected from Trop closets. (See story, Page 20). • If you're not a season ticket holder and you want to sign up, there are plenty of Rays representatives waiting to take your info and assist you. • See some of your old favorites at the MLB Alumni Wiffle Ball. Confirmed for the game are Kevin Maris (son of MLB legend Roger Maris) as well as veteran relief pitcher Roberto Hernandez, hometown hero Doug Waechter, a former Ray; and Orestes Destrade, a former infielder who had a second career as an ESPN commentator. FOR BASEBALL GEEKS • Are you one of those obsessive fans who just wants a place to hear coaches and players talk stats and strategy? Gather around the outfield stage set up to listen as Rays coaches and staff conduct inside baseball-type discussions with Rays broadcasters and other guests to be named. •The coaches and staff will conduct clinics for kids, so you can learn how they think when coaching players. By Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Times Staff Writer Events,Features Insider tips for enjoying Rays Fan Fest SWYNNEN Hit for the cycle &#8212; see a player, step into the batting cage, run the bases and hear some inside baseball &#8212; at Rays Fan Fest. WEK Weekend-Fullrun HAVE YOUR BASES COVERED <p><b>IF YOU GO</b></p><p><b>Rays Fan Fest</b> Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Tropicana Field, 1 Stadium Drive, St. Petersburg. Free. For more details, see tampabay.rays.mlb.com/tb/fan_forum/fan_fest.jsp</p><p></p><p><b>Spring training games</b> get started around the Tampa Bay area the weekend of March 2. The first Rays home spring training game is March 4 at 1:05 p.m. vs. the Minnesota Twins at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte. </p><p></p><p><b>The first home game</b> of the regular season is April 6 vs. the New York Yankees. For schedules and tickets go to tampabay.rays.mlb.com.</p> 18 wkraysfanfest021612 HAVE YOUR BASES COVERED 2012-02-16 05:00:00.0 UTC 2012-02-16T00:00:00.000-05:00 Lines can be long as Rays players sign autographs. Former players and media personalities are available free; a $50 wristband gets you access to some popular current Rays.&#65279; resources/images/dti/2012/02/wek_fanfest21612_210446a.jpg JAMES BORCHUCK | Times (2011) resources/images/dti/rendered/2012/02/wek_fanfest21612_210446a_4col.jpgresources/images/dti/rendered/2012/02/wek_fanfest21612_210446a_8col.jpg &#65279; resources/images/dti/2012/02/wek_fanfest_021612_210445a.jpg JAMES BORCHUCK | Times (2011) resources/images/dti/rendered/2012/02/wek_fanfest_021612_210445a_4col.jpgresources/images/dti/rendered/2012/02/wek_fanfest_021612_210445a_8col.jpg resources/images/dti/2012/02/wek_PRICE21612_210444a.jpg resources/images/dti/rendered/2012/02/wek_PRICE21612_210444a_4col.jpgresources/images/dti/rendered/2012/02/wek_PRICE21612_210444a_8col.jpg resources/images/dti/2012/02/wek_raymond2_210443a.jpg resources/images/dti/rendered/2012/02/wek_raymond2_210443a_4col.jpgresources/images/dti/rendered/2012/02/wek_raymond2_210443a_8col.jpg Lines can be long as Rays players sign autographs. Former players and media personalities are available free; a $50 wristband gets you access to some popular current Rays.&#65279; resources/images/dti/2012/02/wek_fuld021612_210442a.jpg JAMES BORCHUCK | Times (2011) resources/images/dti/rendered/2012/02/wek_fuld021612_210442a_4col.jpgresources/images/dti/rendered/2012/02/wek_fuld021612_210442a_8col.jpg resources/images/dti/2012/02/wek_fuld_021612_210441a.jpg resources/images/dti/rendered/2012/02/wek_fuld_021612_210441a_4col.jpgresources/images/dti/rendered/2012/02/wek_fuld_021612_210441a_8col.jpg resources/images/dti/2012/02/wek_RODRIGUEZ021612_210440a.jpg resources/images/dti/rendered/2012/02/wek_RODRIGUEZ021612_210440a_4col.jpgresources/images/dti/rendered/2012/02/wek_RODRIGUEZ021612_210440a_8col.jpg true templatedata/tampabaytimes/StaffArticle/data/2012/02/15/87586365-insider-tips-for-enjoying-rays-fan-fest StaffArticle 2012-11-18 04:39:21.0 UTC 2012-11-17T23:39:21.000-05:00 If only the Tampa Bay Rays could draw crowds to their games like they will see Saturday at the hugely popular Rays Fan Fest. The difference is it's a free day for baseball nerds, mega fans and families to find a wide range of ways to get into the baseball spirit. Manager Joe Maddon's Thanksmas meal of meatballs and pierogies is already sold out, so the fans seem poised.Events,FeaturesEvents,FeaturesSharon Kennedy Wynne 380132 2038-01-18 05:00:00.0 UTC 2038-01-18T00:00:00.000-05:00 2012-10-25 12:50:12.0 UTC 2012-10-25T08:50:12.000-04:00 sharon-kennedy-wynne published 2015-02-05 03:30:44.0 UTC 2015-02-04T22:30:44.000-05:00 Sharon Kennedy Wynne <p>Sharon Kennedy Wynne is a <i>Tampa Bay Times</i> writer and editor who focuses mostly on events and fun <a href="http://www.tampabay.com/things-to-do things">Things To Do</a>, but also veers off into stories of parenting on the <a href="http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/moms/">Whoa, Momma!</a> blog, as well as cool gadgets or whatever captures her short attention span. A lifelong St. Petersburg resident, she has been a journalist since 1988 and joined her hometown <i>Times</i> in 1994. She is married and has two sons.</p> Times Staff Writer writers DTI 35363998 Sharon Kennedy Wynne is a Tampa Bay Times writer and editor who focuses mostly on events and fun Things To Do, but also veers off into stories of parenting on the Whoa, Momma! blog, as well as cool gadgets or whatever captures her short attention span. A lifelong St. Petersburg resident, she has been a journalist since 1988 and joined her hometown Times in 1994. She is married and has two sons. <p>Phone: (727) 893-8595</p> <p>Email: <a href="mailto:wynne@tampabay.com">wynne@tampabay.com</a></p> <p>Twitter: <a href="https://twitter.com/SharonKWn">@SharonKWn</a></p> <p>Blog: <a href="http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/moms/">Whoa, Momma!</a></p> 1 /resources/images/dti/2012/10/Wynne_Sharon_wp.jpg true templatedata/tampabaytimes/AuthorProfile/data/35363998-sharon-kennedy-wynne AuthorProfile 2012-10-25 12:50:12.0 UTC 2012-10-25T08:50:12.000-04:00 <span style="display:none;" class="author vcard"><span class="fn">SHARON KENNEDY WYNNE</span></span><span style="display:none;" class="source-org vcard"><span class="org fn">Tampa Bay Times</span></span><a rel="item-license" href="/universal/user_agreement.shtml">&#169; 2016 Tampa Bay Times</a><br /><br />Times Staff Writer 2266605 2016-02-24 15:00:13.0 UTC 6 Months Ago things-to-do-planner-rays-fan-fest-harlem-globetrotters-comedy-greats things-to-do/events Things to do planner: Rays Fan Fest, Harlem Globetrotters, comedy greats StaffArticle 2266716 2016-02-24 22:18:15.0 UTC 6 Months Ago plan-your-weekend-feb-26-28-rays-fan-fest-kristin-chenoweth-oscar-night things-to-do/events Plan your weekend Feb. 26-28: Rays Fan Fest, Kristin Chenoweth, Oscar night party StaffArticle 2262818 2016-01-26 16:25:56.0 UTC 7 Months Ago all-in-a-gasparilla-2016-guide-and-insider-tips things-to-do/events All In: A Gasparilla 2016 guide and insider tips StaffArticle <p>If only the Tampa Bay Rays could draw crowds to their games like they will see Saturday at the hugely popular Rays Fan Fest. The difference is it's a free day for baseball nerds, mega fans and families to find a wide range of ways to get into the baseball spirit. Manager Joe Maddon's Thanksmas meal of meatballs and pierogies is already sold out, so the fans seem poised. </p> <p>We asked Fan Fest veterans for their best insider tips on how to enjoy the day, depending on what you are looking for Saturday at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.</p> <p>SEEING A PLAYER </p> <p>Aside from waiting in a seriously long autograph line (count on a two- to three-hour wait for the most popular players) there are still ways to shake a hand or snap a picture with a coach or player — Carlos Pe&ntilde;a is scheduled to be in the house, after all. </p> <p></p> <p>• The Reading With the Rays station is just what it sounds like, Rays players and coaches reading with kids. They are also on hand in the high-fiving area when the kids run the bases and on the call-a-friend stage, where a fan gets to have a Rays player, such as, below from left, <b>Sean Rodriguez</b>, <b>David Price </b>or <b>Sam Fuld</b>, call a friend for them. What a way to impress Grandpa! They don't sign autographs there, but it's a good chance to snap a picture and give your favorite players and coaches a high five. </p> <p></p> <p>• Radio and TV stations set up broadcast tents down by home plate, which is the best place to catch a player or coach on his way from an interview to an autograph signing. Johnny Damon was shaking hands, chatting with fans and high-fiving folks running around the bases last year.</p> <p></p> <p>• Joe Maddon's Thanksmas dinner has sold out already, so keep this in mind for next year. For $50 in advance, $25 for kids, you get a unique opportunity to chat with Joe over a plate of his homemade spaghetti with meatballs and pierogies.</p> <p></p> <p>• If you do decide to brave the autograph lines, you will have two dozen former big-leaguers to seek out who will sign for free, along with the radio and TV reporters you've come to know, not to mention current Rays players and coaches. There also is the option of buying a $50 wristband that grants the opportunity to get autographs from some of the more popular Rays players. All proceeds benefit the ALS Association. For even bigger rollers, the Exclusive Signing Opportunity is new this year. For $200-$400 you can get one of just 15 spots for the most popular players and a wristband for the other autographs. See tampabay.rays.mlb.com/tb/fan_forum/autograph.jsp for details.</p> <p>CAN'T MISS</p> <p>• One of our favorites is the batting cage, where you can hit 'em into the stands and feel the awesomeness of a home-run hitter. Bopping one into the cheap seats (even if it's a Wiffle ball) is so satisfying.</p> <p></p> <p>• Be sure to check out the tours of the players' locker room. That line moves pretty fast, and the view inside is pretty cool. </p> <p></p> <p><b>• Go ahead, run the bases. </b>How many chances are you going to get to run the bases of a Major League stadium? This used to be just for the kids, but this year anyone who wants to can round the bases. </p> <p></p> <p>• Get photos with Rays mascot Raymond and DJ Kitty (it was an actual kitty in that viral video but our favorite hep cat has now been turned into a mascot suit).</p> <p>SUPER FAN ZONE</p> <p>• There are bobbleheads, giveaway T-shirts and cowbells that are dirt cheap. But don't miss the Rays Charity Yard Sale. You'll find prices from $5 to $5,000 for memorabilia actually collected from Trop closets. (See story, <b>P</b>age 20).</p> <p></p> <p>• If you're not a season ticket holder and you want to sign up, there are plenty of Rays representatives waiting to take your info and assist you.</p> <p></p> <p>• See some of your old favorites at the MLB Alumni Wiffle Ball. Confirmed for the game are Kevin Maris (son of MLB legend Roger Maris) as well as veteran relief pitcher Roberto Hernandez, hometown hero Doug Waechter, a former Ray; and Orestes Destrade, a former infielder who had a second career as an ESPN commentator.</p> <p>FOR BASEBALL GEEKS </p> <p>• Are you one of those obsessive fans who just wants a place to hear coaches and players talk stats and strategy? Gather around the outfield stage set up to listen as Rays coaches and staff conduct inside baseball-type discussions with Rays broadcasters and other guests to be named. </p> <p></p> <p>•The coaches and staff will conduct clinics for kids, so you can learn how they think when coaching players.</p>trueruntime2016-08-30 05:45:06