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Rays make day special for Irvin

Hall of Famer Monte Irvin, who lives about 90 minutes north in Homosassa, was honored by the Devil Rays before Sunday's game and threw out the first pitch.

"I'm highly honored and very appreciative," Irvin told the crowd.

Irvin, 84, was a standout in the Negro Leagues and majors. He hit .400 or better three times and was a five-time Negro Leagues All-Star. His best season in the majors was 1951, when he batted .312 with 24 homers and 121 RBIs while leading the New York Giants to the World Series.

Irvin was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1973.

"I hope the people in the area will have some patience (with the Rays)," said Irvin, a Rays season-ticket holder since the squad's first year in 1998. "They've got a great manager and have some potential."

_ KEITH NIEBUHR

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