Saturday's Tampa Bay Rays game against the Boston Red Sox marks the return of Cowbell Night. Fans dressed in Rays gear will be given a clanging cowbell to be shaken only when the opposing batter has two strikes or the other team's fans decide to start up a cheer.
The cowbell promotion was the idea of principal owner Stuart Sternberg, who picked it up from a classic Saturday Night Live skit. But its loudest proponent is "The Cowbell Kid" otherwise known as Cary Strukel, 38, a bartender and small-business owner who has become a one-man marching band of Rays fanfare, complete with giant blue afro wig and scuba flippers.
Strukel's proudest achievement is a clip from ESPN where Yankees broadcaster Michael Kay was heard saying about him, "I want to go down and make that guy eat the cowbell!"
But even Strukel realizes cowbells must be used with care.
"When you're beating it for absolutely no reason," that's not good, Strukel said, "but if it's in the ear of a Yankee fan, that's okay in my eyes."
The Rays take on the Red Sox at 7:10 p.m. Friday at Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg. Tickets start at $14 advance, $16 door. Toll-free 1-888-326-7297; raysbaseball.com. The Rays play Boston at 7:10 p.m. Saturday and 1:40 p.m. Sunday.