Some may describe Andrea Zelman, a Tampa environmental land use lawyer, as a superfan.
As a woman who always roots for the home team, Zelman doesn't miss a Rays game if she can help it. Her connection with the team runs so deep that in 2001 her husband, Clay Phillips, the chief of staff for Kathy Castor, proposed to her at a Rays game.
The two celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary last year by heading to New York City to watch the Rays take on the Yankees.
Times staff writer Shelley Rossetter recently spoke with Zelman about what it means to be a superfan.
I have heard you are a big sports fan. Which teams do you root for?
I'm a die-hard Gator fan. I bleed orange and blue — have been for over 30 years. I now love the Rays with as much intensity as I love the Gators, and that's saying something.
How many games do you go to each season?
I go to all the Gator home (football) games and usually one away game every year. Of the Rays games, my husband and I end up going to 20 or 25 games a year. But I watch almost every other game that I don't go to on television. For instance, I have the game on in my office with the sound off right now — but I am doing work.
Do you have any good luck rituals or charms, any superstitions?
I used to be that way and I used to worry that if I wore something to a Gator game and they lost it would be my fault. But then I realized that there are lots of people in the stadium wearing something and what we are wearing probably doesn't matter.
Baseball season is heating up, how do you think the Rays will do this year?
We look great so far. I'm optimistic.
Who is your favorite player? Why?
That's tough. I probably have a top three: (Evan) Longoria, David Price, (Carlos) Peña. I love Longo because I participate in a charity event he does where he raises money for Moffitt by letting you do a yoga class with him and he's very sweet. I love Peña because I met him the other day during lunch and he is incredibly nice and gracious. And I love Price because I follow him on Twitter and he is very funny.
What do you think about the discussion to move the Rays to Tampa?
I would love to have the Rays playing in downtown Tampa. I think it would be great for the city, great for the team, great for those of us who work downtown and great for those of us who live in Tampa. I enjoy the Trop but it's not in the right place.
I heard there is an intense rivalry in your home. What happens when the Rays play the Red Sox?
My husband, who was at the season opening of the Rays in 1998 and loves the Rays, happened to grow up as a Red Sox fan. He thinks he can love both teams. I believe that you have to follow the words of the song: Root, root, root for the home team. Not root, root, root for the home team plus the one you grew up with. I think he needs to change.
What is it about baseball that has you hooked?
I grew up in a baseball house. My father had always loved baseball and coached baseball. My parents named my brother after a Red Sox player, Ted Williams. My father was a baseball scout later in life. The first guy he scouted and signed is the third base coach for the Rays.
I was more of a football fan, probably out of rebellion. Until I started dating my husband. I have to give him the credit for my love of baseball now