Rays fans go back in time to help kids of today

Published July 2 2018
Updated July 3 2018

Everyone got to go back in time to big hair, shoulder pads, skinny ties and Def Leppard at the Rays Foundationís í80s Casino Night & Auction at the Coliseum. As if blackjack, craps and poker (with chips but no real money) werenít enough to provide a fun atmosphere, the night paid complete homage to the 1985 hit movie Back to the Future.

A silver DeLorean complete with a Doc Brown impersonator and built-in time machine was parked among the craps and poker tables. Numerous Rays players, including Chris Archer, Daniel Robertson, Matt Duffy and Blake Snell, were milling about posing for photos and trying their luck.

Some guests took pictures beneath a banner reading "Enchantment Under The Sea." That, of course, was the theme of the dance Michael J. Fox went to when he traveled back in time to the era of his parentsí youth.

The Raysí original owner Vince Naimoli posed with his wife, Lenda, her twin sister, Glenda Young, and Jenn Tran, who works for the foundation. The sisters, age 74, still stick to their trademark style of dressing alike. Sometimes they shop together, but Glenda often picks things out for both of them and Lenda loves her taste.

Special cocktails were on tap for the evening. "The Great Scott," a frequent phrase of Doc Brown, included coconut rum, ginger beer and fresh lime while "1.21 Gigawats" was made with blackberry whiskey, lemonade and blackberry liqueur.

Archer and Rays teammate and Kevin Kiermaier were featured on a poster paying tribute to an iconic scene from Back to the Future. The illustration showed them looking at their watches as lightning strikes in the background. Everything had to be timed perfectly for the DeLorean to go back to the future.

The Rays Foundationís programs are focused on children. The Rays Jersey Program has outfitted more than 50,000 tee ball players and coaches in jerseys and caps, savings the leagues $1 million.

Reading with the Rays has encouraged summer reading for more than 300,000 Tampa Bay area kids. Participating libraries track their reading and award prizes for reaching certain goals, including two free tickets to a Rays game. Both of these initiatives are co-sponsored by Suncoast Credit Union.

The Home Run Club hosts more than 100 foster children for a series of home games in their own suite each year. The program is co-sponsored by United Concordia Dental.

Another program made possible by the foundation is Be Water Smart From The Start. Every summer, hundreds of kids get swimming and water safety instruction. Partners include local YMCAs, United Way Suncoast, the Juvenile Welfare Board, the Childrenís Board of Hillsborough County, 7-11, and the parks and recreation departments for St. Petersburg and Tampa.

Contact Katherine Snow Smith at [email protected]