Thursday, November 23, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays

Wil Myers debuts for Rays against Red Sox

RECOMMENDED READING


BOSTON — Dad saw something special about him when he was only 3 years old.

Eric Myers would lob a ball to his boy, Wil, in the living room of an apartment in Thomasville, N.C. Little Wil would swing a plastic bat as tall as he was.

"I'd kind of toss it to him and he would wait on that ball and … bam!" Eric said.

Before long, Eric had to put an end to the indoor batting practices.

"We had to go outside," Eric said. "He was breaking lamps."

On Tuesday, Wil, 22 and all grown up, was taking batting practice again with Dad, Mom and little brother, Beau, standing just a few feet away. This time, instead of that tiny apartment, batting practice was at legendary Fenway Park.

Wil Myers had made it. Tuesday was his first day as a Major League Baseball player.

"Dreams do come true," Myers' mom, Pam, said.

The dream actually came true Sunday. For Myers, and his entire family.

After a blockbuster offseason trade to the Rays, the 2012 minor-league player of the year called Pam during the second inning of Sunday's game at Triple-A Durham.

"Mom," Myers told her, "I just got called up."

Pam, sitting just behind home plate, couldn't believe it. "He said, 'Don't say nothing or act different or tell anybody,' " Pam said. "He said you can tell Daddy and Beau, but that's it."

Pam immediately thought back to all the T-ball games Wil played when he was 5. All the weekend tournaments growing up. All the times she plopped a lawn chair behind a backstop and spent a Sunday afternoon watching two, three, and sometimes four games.

"Seemed like there were a thousand of those games," she said.

After getting word from her son Sunday, Pam stood and tried to act as she didn't just get the best news she has ever received. She casually walked over to her husband sitting a few rows back with his parents, his 93-year-old grandmother and the family's pastor. She pulled him aside and whispered, "It's happened. Wil was called up."

"It was all I could do to hold it together," Eric said. "And Beau was with me. … And I said, 'Beau, don't leave me' because I was about to get emotional. I just said, 'Beau, don't leave me. I'm about to lose it here.' ''

Eric, Pam and Beau quietly excused themselves like they were going to the concession stand and met Wil underneath the bleachers.

"When I saw him, I just lost it," Eric said.

Eric couldn't stop thinking about the day Wil was drafted by the Royals in the third round of the 2009 draft.

"(That day) he said, 'Daddy, we made it,' " Eric recalled.

Eric told him the hard work was only just beginning. But when he saw his son outside the clubhouse in Durham on Sunday, he said he asked his son, '' 'Wil, do you remember that day that you told me that we made it?' And he said, 'Yeah, Daddy.' And I said, 'For the last four years, you made it. You made it.' And then I said 'I'm so proud of you.' ''

Eric is taking off this week from his job in the service department at the Crown Honda dealership in Greensboro, while Pam, an accountant for Carolina Container in Highpoint, is taking a few days as well. Beau, a 16-year-old spittin' image of his big brother, will not be playing for the Dirtbags this weekend. That's the same travel team Wil played for back in North Carolina. The whole Myers clan will be in New York City this weekend to watch Myers play against another iconic team, the Yankees.

As far as Tuesday's debut, well, it could have started better.

The biggest day in Wil Myers' life got underway a little after 9 o'clock. Wearing a gray T-shirt and jeans, Myers strolled into the cramped visitors' clubhouse inside Fenway with hitting coach Derek Shelton and pitching coach Jim Hickey.

A couple of hours later, he sat in the dugout, staring at the field, trying to soak in every moment of this special day.

As he stretched on the field, it hit him.

"I thought, 'I'm in the big leagues. This is awesome,' " Myers said.

Before batting practice, he was taken into the Green Monster and he looked at all the signatures of some of the major-leaguers who have played here. He signed his name. Then he spent batting practice knocking balls over that same wall.

If the story was perfect, Myers would have played the first game of a double-header under a brilliant sun, chasing down fly balls in rightfield while bashing baseballs into the gaps.

Instead, a soaking rain interrupted Myers' first-ever big-league game a minute shy of three hours. He ended up going 0-for-4 with three fly outs and a caught-looking strikeout. He had trouble corralling a ball in the corner. He even got heckled by the Fenway fans.

"They were a little loud out there," Myers said with a laugh.

In the end, however, it was all cool — a word Myers used over and over between games of the doubleheader.

"It was an awesome experience being the first game I played in the big leagues here at Fenway," Myers said. "It was cool."

Finally, he got his first hit in the majors — a sharp single to left in the top of the second of the nightcap.

That made it a memorable end to what already was an unforgettable day.

Comments
Presenting the 2017 Sports Turkey of the Year

Presenting the 2017 Sports Turkey of the Year

Happy Turkey Day!Today is a day of tradition.The Macy’s parade. Turkey and stuffing. The Lions and Cowboys.And our annual "Turkey of the Year.’’It’s a tradition started by my former colleague at the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the brilliant columnist P...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Rays INF Matt Duffy has to say big goodbye to 27-pound cat Skeeter

Rays INF Matt Duffy has to say big goodbye to 27-pound cat Skeeter

When the Rays acquired INF Matt Duffy from the Giants during the 2016 season, we also heard about the giant and somewhat famous cat he had, an up-to-27-pounder named Skeeter.Duffy announced over the weekend on Instagram that the family had to have Sk...
Published: 11/21/17
Rays agonize over which prospects to protect on 40-man roster

Rays agonize over which prospects to protect on 40-man roster

ST. PETERSBURG — That the Rays went right up to Monday’s 8 p.m. deadline in deciding to add seven players to the 40-man roster, and that a couple they left off seem to be potential Rule 5 draft losses, was apparently a good thing."There’s always some...
Published: 11/20/17
Updated: 11/21/17
UPDATE: RHP Brent Honeywell among 7 added to Rays 40-man roster

UPDATE: RHP Brent Honeywell among 7 added to Rays 40-man roster

UPDATE, 8:11: RHP Jose Mujica was an additional addition to the roster, beyond the six previously reported. Mujica, 21, was 14-8, 3.04 ERA in 27 starts between Class-A Charlotte and Double-A Montgomery.So among those left unprotected and potentially ...
Published: 11/20/17
Former Devil Ray Aubrey Huff among newcomers to Baseball Hall of Fame ballot

Former Devil Ray Aubrey Huff among newcomers to Baseball Hall of Fame ballot

Aubrey Huff isn't going to make the Baseball Hall of Fame.But at least the former Devil Rays standout has the satisfaction of making the cut to get onto the ballot, one of 19 first-timers up for election this year.Other newcomers with Rays ties are O...
Published: 11/20/17
Topkin: As Rays start dealing, how far will they go?

Topkin: As Rays start dealing, how far will they go?

After collecting intelligence at last week’s GM meetings, the Rays soon will launch their offseason mission of trading at least a couple of veterans to reduce payroll.The question is how far they will go — how many players they deal, and how big of n...
Published: 11/18/17
Rocco Baldelli’s promotion on Rays coaching staff now makes him major league field coordinator

Rocco Baldelli’s promotion on Rays coaching staff now makes him major league field coordinator

The Rays completed the reorganization of their coaching staff by giving Rocco Baldelli the title of major league field coordinator.In being promoted from first-base coach, Baldelli will implement ideas and information from the staff, while assisting ...
Published: 11/17/17
Rays hope to cash in on Alex Cobb leaving

Rays hope to cash in on Alex Cobb leaving

LAKE BUENA VISTA — The Rays were banking on pitcher Alex Cobb declining their one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer based on the lure of a longer-term and more lucrative deal elsewhere as a free agent.With that decision official Thursday, now the ...
Published: 11/16/17
Commissioner Rob Manfred likes Ybor City stadium site, but must see more support to keep baseball in Tampa Bay

Commissioner Rob Manfred likes Ybor City stadium site, but must see more support to keep baseball in Tampa Bay

LAKE BUENA VISTA — MLB commissioner Rob Manfred didn’t want to talk Thursday about what might happen if the current effort to build the Rays a new stadium at the Ybor City site falls through."I’m more focused on working with the community to figure o...
Published: 11/16/17
A message to Rays fans from Alex Cobb

A message to Rays fans from Alex Cobb

Here is a message from RHP Alex Cobb after he officially left the Rays Thursday in declining their one-year, $17.4-milllion qualifying offer to seek a bigger and longer pact elsewhere:"Getting to this point in my career is truly bittersweet."Twelve y...
Published: 11/16/17