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Rays share memories of postseasons past

With the Rays playing in the postseason for the first time in club history, the Times asked the players three questions:

>>What is your favorite memory from a playoff game you participated in?

>>What is your favorite memory from a playoff game you watched?

>>For whom would you love to leave a ticket to today's game?

Carl Crawford, leftfielder

Individual memory: "In my ninth-grade year, in high school, that was the first time we ever made the playoffs. It was one of those special things you always remember."

Favorite moment you watched: Joe Carter hitting the winning homer against the Phillies in the 1993 World Series. "I remember watching that and almost breaking my aunt's window because I was so excited. Devon White was my favorite player at the time, so I was watching it closely."

Person you'd leave ticket for: Little League coach Raymond Bourn.

Cliff Floyd, designated hitter

Individual memory: Game 7 of the 1997 World Series, when Marlins infielder Edgar Renteria got the series-clinching hit: "I'm in the dugout, you're pretty much limp because you've surpassed every feeling you have. I remember being at the end of the dugout, with my face in my hands because I couldn't watch. I was probably the last one out of the dugout because I was the last one reacting to it. I will never forget that moment."

Favorite moment you watched: Cubs first baseman Leon Durham's error in the decisive fifth game of 1984 NLCS against the Padres. "I remember watching that in my living room on the floor, in San Diego. That was crazy. Harry Caray was going bananas on that play. "

Person you'd leave a ticket for: "My best friend (and former teammate) Rondell White. He's like family."

Akinori Iwamura, second baseman

Individual memory: His first at-bat in the 2001 Japan Series. "I was very nervous. The first at-bat I had a pitch up and in, but I had a base hit and we won the series 4-1, and I received a prize right underneath MVP."

Favorite moment you watched: When Boston came back from a 3-0 deficit to beat the Yankees and go on to the 2004 World Series.

Person you'd leave a ticket for: Mother, Michiyo.

Jason Bartlett, shortstop

Individual memory: With the Twins in 2004, when they clinched on last day of the season with the help of the Royals, whom they watched on the big screen: "I remember Torii (Hunter) saying, 'When we win this thing, let's all run out to centerfield.' We ran around the stadium, high-fiving fans, and they were chanting, 'Let's go Royals!' because they won for us. It was an amazing feeling."

Favorite moment you watched: Aaron Boone's walkoff home run for the Yankees to beat Red Sox in the 2003 ALCS.

Person you'd leave ticket for: Jason Vanover, best friend growing up, who died eight years ago.

Willy Aybar, infielder/DH

Individual memory: Playing for Licey in the Dominican League.

Favorite moment you watched: Magglio Ordonez's winning homer against A's in 2006 ALCS to propel Tigers to first World Series since 1984.

Person you'd leave ticket for: Cousin Marino Aybar, 28, who died in an accident recently.

Dioner Navarro, catcher

Individual memory: In his first year of pro baseball, scoring the go-ahead run (on a flyout to the shortstop) in the eighth to help put Gulf Coast Yankees into the championship series. "I tagged and went and I slid into home plate, knocked the ball out of the catcher's glove and I fractured my ankle. We won 2-1."

Favorite moment you watched: Joe Carter's home run against the Phillies in 1993 World Series.

Person you'd leave a ticket for: Carlos Rodriguez, a friend in Venezuela.

Fernando Perez, outfielder

Individual memory: "The big soccer games I played when I was 12-13. They were state championship, regional championship games (for West End Warriors in New Jersey). We won (the) state championship five years in a row."

Favorite moment you watched: The Red Sox series where they beat the Yankees after being down 3-0 in 2004 ALCS. "Who even watched the World Series that year?"

Person you'd leave a ticket for: Parents Fernando and Sira.

B.J. Upton, centerfielder

Individual memory: "That was way too long ago."

Favorite moment you watched: Tigers' Magglio Ordonez homer vs. A's in 2006 ALCS.

Person you'd leave a ticket for: Verna Gordon, grandmother.

Gabe Gross, outfielder

Individual memory: At Auburn, winning in 1999 and moving on to Super Region. "Hosting it and winning it at home was my favorite moment."

Favorite moment you watched: In 1992 NLCS, Braves first baseman Sid Bream sliding into home for the winning run against the Pirates to send the Braves into the World Series.

Person you'd leave a ticket for: Sara McNair, "Mama Sarak," great-grandmother who just died, and grandfather Charlie Bowdoin, "who also passed away when I was younger."

Ben Zobrist, utilityman

Individual memory: Pitching for Eureka Middle School, making the state tournament in both seventh and eighth grade. "It was still the coolest thing in the world for us."

Favorite moment you watched: Cardinals shortstop Ozzie Smith hitting winning homer in Game 5 of 1985 NLCS.

Person you'd leave a ticket for: Alpha Zobrist, grandfather, who died before he was born.

Shawn Riggans, catcher

Individual memory: Playing Pony baseball in 11-13 age group, playing in state championship. "The last time and only time I've ever played in the playoffs. We lost in four games."

Favorite moment you watched: Kirk Gibson's winning Game 1 homer for Dodgers in 1988 World Series off Oakland closer Dennis Eckersley.

Person you'd leave a ticket for: Mother, who never got to see him play professionally.

Rocco Baldelli, outfielder/DH

Individual memory: "Either my high school baseball championship, my last game, or winning the Triple-A championship, which was nice, too (2002)."

Favorite moment you watched: Joe Carter homing in 1993 World Series. "I think I just turned it on when he got that hit. Perfect timing."

Person you'd leave a ticket for: Dan Baldelli, grandfather who died when he was young.

Michel Hernandez, catcher

Individual memory: "I've never been in the playoffs before."

Favorite moment you watched: Aaron Boone's homer for Yankees over Red Sox in 2003 ALCS.

Person you'd leave a ticket for: Juan Carlos Lopez, a friend.

Eric Hinske, outfielder

Individual memory: "I don't really have one."

Favorite moment you watched: Kirk Gibson's winning, ninth-inning, two-run homer on a 3-and-2 count against Oakland's Dennis Eckersley in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series.

Person you'd leave a ticket for: "Nobody."

Matt Garza, pitcher

Individual memory: "Never had one. I was a guy that managed to stand out, but I never had that big catch or that big hit."

Favorite moment you watched: "Probably the day when Brett Butler came back from cancer (in 1996). I was a big Dodger fan."

Person you'd leave a ticket for: "My coaches have all seen me play. I'd want the extra ticket for my family."

Dan Wheeler, relief pitcher

Individual memory: "I don't know if there was one moment when I was the guy."

Favorite moment you watched: "I grew up a Red Sox fan, so there was a lot of disappointment there. Not necessarily my favorite team, but the Joe Carter home run in the (1993) World Series."

Person you'd leave a ticket for: Best friend.

James Shields, pitcher

Individual memory: Winning the section title in high school in 1999, playing at Edison Field in Anaheim: "I played first base the first three innings and I remember coming in to pitch the last four innings of the game. We ended up winning 10-9. I struck out the last guy of the game to end it with a runner on second base and it was a pretty exciting feeling."

Favorite moment you watched: Watching cousin Aaron Rowand playing for White Sox in 2005 World Series run: "I've worked out with him the last five years and I know how hard he works. To be able to see him succeed and win the whole thing (was) just an amazing feeling for me."

Person you'd leave a ticket for: "My high school coach, Bud Murray. He pretty much turned me into a pitcher."

Jeff Niemann, pitcher

Individual memory: Improved to 17-0 as a Rice sophomore by allowing one hit through eight innings against Southwest Missouri State in the first game of the College World Series. The Owls won the 2003 NCAA title.

Favorite moment you watched: "2001, Yankees-Diamondbacks when (Luis) Gonzalez won it with the single in the bottom of the ninth."

Person you'd leave a ticket for: "Wayne Graham, my college coach."

Chad Bradford, relief pitcher

Individual memory: The 2006 playoffs with the Mets. "Just the way the whole postseason was unbelievable, playing the Dodgers, getting past them. Game 7 against the Cardinals we lost, but it was just a good postseason."

Favorite moment you watched: "Kirk Gibson's home run (Game 1, 1988 World Series), no doubt. I was a Dodger fan growing up."

Person you'd leave a ticket for: ''My high school coach, Bill 'Moose' Perry back in Mississippi. He's the guy that dropped me down sidearm when I was in high school."

J.P. Howell, relief pitcher

Individual memory: High school team going undefeated and winning the state championship his senior year. "I pitched all the way through state. I got drafted out of high school, so it was an intense moment: high school playoffs, draft coming. It was great."

Favorite moment you watched: "That home run that Aaron Boone hit off (Tim) Wakefield (Game 7, 2003 ALCS, 11th inning, sending the Yankees to the World Series). I was with my dad in Austin, Texas. We were at a bar. It was like 11:45 at night and I remember when he hit it. It was an unbelievable game."

Person you'd leave a ticket for: "Augie Garrido, my coach from Texas."

Edwin Jackson, pitcher

Individual memory: "I've only been on one postseason team, the L.A. (Dodgers), but the whole atmosphere was so different. Playing against St. Louis in '04, clinching the division; all of it was just great, something you don't forget."

Favorite moment you watched: "I grew up a Braves fan and I'd sit there and watch the games, but nothing sticks out more than anything and thinking, 'God, they lost again.' It was a love-hate relationship."

Person you'd leave a ticket for: "Little League coach James Wilbourn. I've known him since I was 12. He was one of the first coaches I had coming off the military base into Little League. He stayed on me, too. To this day he still calls the house."

Carlos Pena, first baseman

Individual memory: Winning Cape Cod League title in 1997, and catching the final out.

Favorite moment you watched: "I was on a cruise to the Caribbean, watching the Red Sox come back from three games down to beat the Yankees in 2004. We were watching the games in the bar. Everybody was going crazy."

Person you'd leave a ticket for: My dad, Felipe. Just because he's dad.

Evan Longoria, third baseman

Individual memory: "In the minor leagues when we won the Double-A championship my first year (2006 at Montgomery). Especially since I went from rookie ball to A ball to Double A and finished up there, and ended up winning a championship."

Favorite moment you watched: The 2002 World Series when the Angels won it, and the whole celebration that ensued.

Person you'd leave a ticket for: “I'd probably have to say my uncle Jeff (Kristoff). We're always talking back and forth via e-mails, so I'm sure if he asked he'd be the one."

Grant Balfour, relief pitcher

Individual memory: "I'd say winning a gold medal in the Intercontinental Cup (for Australia) in 1999. I finished the game off. They mob you on the field. Ended it with a strikeout. It was kind of a nice feeling."

Favorite moment you watched: "I wish I could say my football team (West Tigers rugby team), but they always lost. So I guess the Joe Carter walkoff in 1993."

Person you'd leave a ticket for: Girlfriend.

David Price, pitcher

Individual memory: At Vanderbilt during the NCAA Regions, pitched nine innings against Austin Peay.

Favorite moment you watched: David Justice's home run in a 1-0 Atlanta Braves victory in Game 6 to clinch the 1995 World Series against Cleveland.

Person you'd leave a ticket for: "My nephew, Corey Price. He's only 4, but he's my man."

Trever Miller, relief pitcher

Individual memory: "I never really had one of those big plays."

Favorite moment you watched: "The Cubs were never on and I watched them a lot, but not a lot of playoff games (in Louisville, where he grew up)."

Person you'd leave a ticket for: "My grandfather. I'd like to see him make it down here. And Bill Fuchs, a big fan and World War II veteran, but he doesn't travel much."

Scott Kazmir, pitcher

Individual memory: Winning the Florida State League title with the Mets' St. Lucie affiliate in 2003. "I had just got called up from low A just before that, so it was just all the adrenaline going, being on a new team and the next thing you know you're in the playoffs and playing in a championship game. I threw about six shutout innings. We had a dog pile on the mound."

Favorite moment you watched: Aaron Boone's home run for the Yankees in the 2003 ALCS.

Person you'd leave a ticket for: "Wow, I'd have to go with an actress. Scarlett Johansson."

Andy Sonnanstine, pitcher

Individual memory: "Montgomery, Ala., playing Jacksonville at home, the bottom of the ninth, 0-0, we finally get a runner to third base and Evan Longoria came up and hit a walkoff to send us to the championship series."

Favorite moment you watched: "I was very unpleased with (Marlins' Edgar) Renteria's base hit off (the Indians' Charles) Nagy (to win the 1997 World Series). I try to face him really tough now since then."

Person you'd leave a ticket for: Model Marissa Miller.

Troy Percival, relief pitcher

Individual memory: "Mine's easy: throwing the last pitch of Game 7 of the World Series (2002, for Anaheim, against San Francisco). It's complete elation and complete exhaustion at the same time."

Favorite moment you watched: "Mickey Hatcher hitting (two) home runs when he was with the Dodgers (against Oakland in 1988)."

Person you'd leave a ticket for: "I have no idea. I haven't had any influences."

Joe Smith and Brant James, Times staff writers

Rays share memories of postseasons past 10/01/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 2, 2008 10:51am]
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