Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Rays get red-carpet treatment upon arrival

ST. PETERSBURG — If only for one night, St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport was a cowbell-clanking, stereo-pumping, banner-waving good time.

Several hundred fans filled the baggage claim area Sunday night to welcome home their playoff-bound Rays from their last regular-season road trip.

They stood shoulder-to-shoulder on baggage conveyer belts and hopped up on rental car counters for a glimpse of their favorite players. They clicked photos, took video and used their cell phones to relay the scene to family members at home who couldn't make it to the rally.

Those who did make it out said there was nothing else they'd rather be doing.

"I just felt like we had to be here," said Ronnie Thomas Jr., of St. Petersburg.

Thomas brought his 12-year-old son to the rally.

"We owe them a debt of gratitude for having such an excellent season," said Thomas, 37.

Richard and Deborah Nordstrom of Tampa brought their 3-year-old chihuahua and Pekinese mix, Harley.

The couple said they didn't have time to make a sign — they were too busy getting Harley's outfit together. The tiny dog wore a B.J. Upton jersey and gold chain with a baseball glove charm. His headgear consisted of a miniature batting helmet with a Mohawk attached by Velcro.

"Harley was always for the underdogs. He watched them all year, from worst to first" said Richard Nordstrom, 54.

Nearby, Michael Zabriskie was sporting his new hairdo, too. The 40-year-old Clearwater resident got a Mohawk on Wednesday.

"It's electric," Zabriskie said of the crowd. "Even if I didn't have a Mohawk, my hair would still be standing up."

Justin Nash, 14, predicted the Rays were going all the way to the World Series. The ninth-grader at St. Petersburg High School, who was at the rally with his mom and grandparents, said he just had to come out to support his favorite team.

As for school Monday?

"I'm going, I don't care if I'm tired."

When an announcement was made about 8:30 p.m. that the Rays' plane was over Georgia, the crowd erupted.

Forty-five minutes later, as the team filed in fresh off the plane, the sound was deafening.

"It's the best thing that's ever happened to the city," said John Medina, 32, of St. Petersburg. "We're going to go all the way. We believe. There's no doubt."

Medina and others at the rally seemed to share the same philosophy as Scott Young, 49, of St. Petersburg.

"They may go again but they'll never go the first time again," he said. "This is history."

Rita Farlow can be reached at (727) 445-4162 or farlow@sptimes.com.

Rays celebrations

>> The Rays will host a celebration starting at 5 p.m. today at Straub Park on Bayshore Drive NE in St. Petersburg. Rays players and coaches will be on hand and Survivor will perform. Food will be available and beverages will be provided by Anheuser-Busch. Free Mohawks will be offered.

>> On Tuesday, the team will head to Lykes Gaslight Park, 410 N Franklin St., Tampa, for a second party from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The event includes free hot dogs, peanuts, Cracker Jack and food from Smokey Bones. There will also be an interactive zone with the Rays' hitting and pitching machines that people can play for a chance to win Rays prizes.

Rays get red-carpet treatment upon arrival 09/28/08 [Last modified: Monday, September 29, 2008 5:18pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Carlton: A moment of sanity when citizens finally said no

    Courts

    If you were looking for some small sign of sanity in the world, here's one courtesy of the people of Tampa and Hillsborough County.

    The Confederate memorial statue outside the old Hillsborough courthouse is now boxed up in plywood to prevent vandalism. Private donors have ponied up money to have the statue relocated to a cemetery. [JIM DAMASKE  |  Times]
  2. Review: Jason Aldean fires up a country-dude party at Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre

    Blogs

    Country music has a dude problem.

    I’m not talking about the proliferation of mindless bro country over the past half-decade, nor am I referring to the fact that most of Nashville’s best music these days comes not from said bros, from female singers and songwriters.

    Jason Aldean performed at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa on Aug. 18, 2018.
  3. President Trump offers prayers for Kissimmee police

    Blogs

    President Donald Trump reacted to the police shooting in Kissimmee:

  4. Kissimmee police officer dies, one gravely wounded; Jacksonville officers shot

    News

    KISSIMMEE — A Kissimmee police officer died and a second was gravely wounded Friday night, police Chief Jeff O'Dell said.

    Two police officers have been shot and killed in Kissimmee, authorities say. The shooting happened in the area of Palmway and Cypress around 9:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 18, 2017. Photo courtesy of WESH.com
  5. Longest home run at Trop and Erasmo Ramirez's pitching doom Rays (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Kevin Kiermaier returned. The problem was, so did Erasmo Ramirez.

    Seattle Mariners first baseman Yonder Alonso (10) scores on the double by Seattle Mariners designated hitter Nelson Cruz (23) in the first inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 18, 2017.