PORT CHARLOTTE — The Rays like to be bold.
And, as of Thursday, bald.
Manager Joe Maddon and 36 players and coaches had their heads shaved in a fundraiser for the Pediatric Cancer Foundation. They were joined by 34 team executives and staff, including principal owner Stuart Sternberg, president Matt Silverman and, after some coaxing, executive vice president Andrew Friedman.
"Perfect," Maddon said. "It feels clean. It feels cool. It feels right."
One-liners were flying as quickly as hair was falling, team barber Wilber Bonilla leading a squad of six cutters from Spring Hill's Studio Uno on the stadium boardwalk.
Third-base coach Tom Foley asked for hair gel then slipped on a visor with spiked gray hair sewn in. Pitcher James Shields wanted to know if he now could be listed as younger than 30. Sternberg wondered if they'd score more runs due to the improved aerodynamics.
"This is a great cause," Shields said. "It's great to see everyone out here supporting the cause. Hopefully, we raise a lot of money."
Thursday, $5,000 was raised. Donations still can be made at pcfcutforacure.org, and $10 contributions can be made by texting CUT to 50555. (Sternberg also made a $25,000 donation to the Moffitt Cancer and Research Institute.) T-shirts reading, "Fortune Favors the Bald" will be available at team stores this month.
Nancy Crane, executive director of the foundation, was thrilled with the Rays' participation, which started with an invite to Maddon from Lightning star Vinny Lecavalier.
"I don't think words can describe it. It's amazing," she said. "From the top down, it's a hair-raising, fundraising event."
There were some residual logistical issues.
Maddon said they'd go hatless for batting practice the next three days to show off and so the players could get their heads adjusted to the sun. And home clubhouse/equipment manager Chris Westmoreland expected a line of players looking to downsize their lids.
"It's a great cause," said. "But it's killing our hat inventory."
Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]