Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Last Night in St. Petersburg| The Rays' home opener

Rays' home opener: Where optimism lives

ST. PETERSBURG — Chuck Harris has never missed a Tampa Bay Rays' home opener.

But he's never seen Carl Crawford steal a base, or Scott Kazmir strike out a batter, or any Ray hit a home run.

Harris leaned against the wall of the Trop on Tuesday, munching on Cracker Jack in his new Rays T-shirt. A love of baseball brought him here, high above right field, for the Rays' 11th home opening game. The crowd cheers a play on the field.

Harris asks his friend, "What happened?"

In 1995, about three years before his team's first-ever pitch, Harris, 53, was refereeing a basketball game when he ran into a TV camera. He went blind.

Harris loves baseball because it's America's pasttime, because it's tradition, because it's family. His wife's father was a pitcher with the Yankees organization and played with Mickey Mantle. He went to school with two of George Steinbrenner's children.

It doesn't matter that he can't see what's happening on the field.

His friend, Buck Clark, 59, of Bradenton, who accompanied him to the game, had a different explanation for what brings Harris to the stadium.

"He thinks someone will hit this one fly ball and hit him in the head, and he'll get his sight back," Clark says.

"He's supposed to protect me!" Harris complains.

"I'd say 'duck,' " his friend jokes. "You can only do so much."

A few years ago, Harris gave his tickets to Clark. In the game against Cleveland, his stepson Steve caught a home run ball off an Indians batter.

"Those kinds of moments you remember for the rest of your life," Harris says.

Harris doesn't attend as many games as he once did after facing season upon season of disappointment. He thinks the Rays have tried too many gimmicks, changing colors from purple to green to blue among them. And now they want a downtown stadium, open-air, which he says is a terrible idea.

"I've lived in Florida since 1974. Who wants to come out and sit in the heat with the bugs?" he asks, gesturing across the stadium, filled with fans. "How much nicer could you have than this right here?"

Harris believes the Rays are going to win at least half their games this year. As long the team keeps putting in an effort, he'll keep listening to games on the radio, keep coming to the opening game each spring.

He wants to see a winner.

Stephanie Garry can be reached at or (727) 892-2374.

Rays' home opener: Where optimism lives 04/08/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 9, 2008 7:03am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trump reveals that he didn't record Comey after all


    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump declared Thursday he never made and doesn't have recordings of his private conversations with ousted former FBI director James Comey, ending a monthlong guessing game that he started with a cryptic tweet and that ensnared his administration in yet more controversy.

    President Donald Trump said Thursday that he didn’t record his conversations with James Comey.
  2. Lightning fans, don't get attached to your first-round draft picks

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — When Lightning GM Steve Yzerman announces his first-round pick Friday night in the amateur draft at No. 14, he'll invite the prospect onto the stage for the once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) eludes  Montreal Canadiens left wing Phillip Danault (24) during the second period of Wednesday???‚??„?s (12/28/16) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Montreal Canadiens at the Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  3. Investigation Discovery TV show profiles 2011 Landy Martinez murder case


    The murder of a St. Petersburg man will be featured this week on a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery.

    Jose Adame sits in a Pinellas County courtroom during his 2016 trial and conviction for first-degree murder. Adame was convicted of first-degree murder last year for torturing and then executing his boyfriend as he pleaded for his life in 2011. Now it will be featured in a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery. The episode will air on June 26 at 9 p.m. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  4. Uhuru mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel protests exclusion from debate


    ST. PETERSBURG — Jesse Nevel, the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement candidate for mayor, on Thursday demanded that he be allowed to participate in a July 25 televised debate between incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman and challenger Rick Baker.

    Mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel holds a news conference outside the headquarters of the Tampa Bay Times on Thursday to protest his exclusion from the mayoral debate. Nevel is a member of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement.
  5. Lightning GM Steve Yzerman also has top-9 wing on his wish list

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — Much has been made about the Lightning's interest in bolstering its blue line, even after last week's acquisition of defense prospect Mikhail Sergachev.

    Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman gestures as he speaks to the media about recent trades during a news conference before an NHL hockey game against the Carolina Hurricanes Wednesday, March 1, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. The Lightning, over the past few days, have traded goaltender Ben Bishop to the Los Angeles Kings, forward Brian Boyle to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and forward Valtteri Filppula to the Philadelphia Flyers. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA101