Sunday, December 10, 2017
News Roundup

Father returns from Afghanistan to surprise daughter at the Rays game

ST. PETERSBURG

Alayna Adams was living a dream as she prepared to throw out the first pitch Thursday night before thousands of Tampa Bay Rays fans at Tropicana Field.

Her father, a lieutenant colonel stationed in Afghanistan for most of the past two years, appeared on the stadium video screen. He said hello and told his daughter he would see her soon.

The 9-year-old Dunedin girl launched the ball and watched it bounce across the turf toward home plate.

A man wearing a Rays uniform and a catcher's mask and pads squatted behind the plate. As the ball rolled toward him, he stepped forward and scooped the ball in his glove.

Alayna thought there was something odd about the way he caught the ball. It wasn't quite how a professional ballplayer would do it.

The man at the plate stood and lifted his mask. It was her father, Lt. Col. Will Adams.

She sprinted to him. He swept her into his arms.

• • •

Hours earlier, Alayna thought she was in trouble. Her mother told her they had to leave early to meet with the principal of Westlake Christian School, where Alayna is in third grade.

Neither of them knew that the meeting was part of a well-orchestrated and secretive plan — a collaborative effort between the United Service Organizations and the Rays.

Later, they were told that they had been selected from among a number of military family members to throw the first pitch at Thursday night's game. And before the ball was tossed, they and the rest of the crowd watched a short video greeting from Lt. Col. Adams. He was due to come home Monday. He wished them well and said he would see them soon.

He didn't say just how soon.

Adams, 40, had arrived Wednesday at MacDill Air Force Base. Wednesday night he stayed in a hotel room, alone, awaiting the next day's surprise.

"That was the hardest part," he said later. "Being back home and not being able to see them."

• • •

From behind the catcher's mask, Adams eyed his little girl. She stood a little taller than she had when he last saw her, the day before Valentine's Day.

After he took off his mask and Alayna jumped into his arms, he held her tight for a full 30 seconds.

Dana Adams soon joined them. Usually not one to get emotional, she cried.

And the crowd roared.

 
Comments
Veteran 3B Evan Longoria as uncertain as anyone about Rays’ plans

Veteran 3B Evan Longoria as uncertain as anyone about Rays’ plans

LAKE BUENA VISTA — Uncertain with all the talk about potentially rebuilding if the Rays would go as far as trading franchise cornerstone 3B Evan Longoria?So is he."I don’t know what to think, really,’’ Longoria said via text message Sunday night as t...
Updated: 26 minutes ago
Bucs-Lions journal: Backup lineman was most unlikely of targets

Bucs-Lions journal: Backup lineman was most unlikely of targets

TAMPA — The Bucs’ unlikely comeback to erase a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter was capped by the most unlikely of targets. Tampa Bay tied the game when Jameis Winston threw a 2-yard pass to 305-pound Leonard Wester, a backup lineman who lined ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
New normal: Firefighting at Christmas; U.S. homeless population increases 1st time since 2010; Athletes, celebrities rally for bullied boy; more in U.S. news

New normal: Firefighting at Christmas; U.S. homeless population increases 1st time since 2010; Athletes, celebrities rally for bullied boy; more in U.S. news

CaliforniaNew normal: Christmas firefightingA flare-up on the western edge of Southern California’s largest and most destructive wildfire sent residents fleeing Sunday. Fire crews saved several homes as unpredictable gusts sent the blaze churning dee...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Fennelly: Gerald McCoy’s lost season may be over

Fennelly: Gerald McCoy’s lost season may be over

TAMPA — It was the face of a losing season.Gerald McCoy’s tearful, contorted face.Up there on the video boards at Raymond James Stadium. On your TV screen. Everywhere."I’m not a quitter," McCoy said. "I don’t play to lose."The Bucs lost their ninth g...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Bucs-Lions: Grading Tampa Bay’s 24-21 loss to Detroit

Bucs-Lions: Grading Tampa Bay’s 24-21 loss to Detroit

TAMPA — It was football weather, cool, crisp, a day for the Bucs and their fans. That explains the crowd. Stow the zinc oxide. Where’s my muff?Oh, and break out the record book.For the 28th time in their 42-year history, the Bucs are losers. They sec...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Buc-Lions: The end could be near for Doug Martin

Buc-Lions: The end could be near for Doug Martin

TAMPA — One costly fumble Sunday did what two seasons with the worst average per carry in the NFL couldn’t do: Put Doug Martin on the bench.Bucs coach Dirk Koetter had stuck with Martin, starting him Sunday even after Peyton Barber rushed for 102 yar...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Jones: Why Bucs coach Dirk Koetter won’t survive this

Jones: Why Bucs coach Dirk Koetter won’t survive this

TAMPA — Dirk Koetter isn’t going to return as coach of the Bucs next season.That’s not official. No announcement has been made. No press conference is scheduled. It’s not an absolute fact. Not yet.And this isn’t a call for his job.It’s a prediction. ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Lions-Buccaneers: A by-the-numbers look at Tampa Bay’s 24-21 loss

Lions-Buccaneers: A by-the-numbers look at Tampa Bay’s 24-21 loss

Here’s a by-the-numbers look at the Bucs’ 24-21 loss to the Lions on Sunday:28Seasons, out of 42, in which the Bucs have lost more games than they’ve won.81.8Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford’s completion percentage Sunday. He completed 36 of 44 pas...
Updated: 2 hours ago
All boxes checked on Lightning home stand sweep; now, back to the road

All boxes checked on Lightning home stand sweep; now, back to the road

TAMPA — You don’t often see a coach making shadow puppets on the wall with his hands at the start of his postgame news conference, but that’s where the Lightning is these days after sweeping a four-game home stand with Saturday night’s 4-3 overtime v...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Sting rocks the house with old and new hits in Florida Orchestra gala

Sting rocks the house with old and new hits in Florida Orchestra gala

ST. PETERSBURG — In some ways, the Florida Orchestra’s gala with Sting looked like other concerts of a mega-star. Most of the fans who packed the Mahaffey Theater bought their tickets the day they went on sale. They cheered and sang along at the open...
Updated: 3 hours ago