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Major moments

Ben Zobrist just finished his first season in the major leagues and it has been a wild ride.

From his first home run with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays to being a part of a historic triple play, this season has been a memorable one for the rookie shortstop.

That first home run, which he hit on Aug. 6, was a dream for Zobrist, 25. "After I hit it, it kept going and going,'' he said, "and once I realized it was gone, I don't even remember running from first base to third base."

And then there was the triple play against the Seattle Mariners. It is the only triple play of its kind in baseball history, according to the Society for American Baseball Research. It involved a strikeout, Zobrist tagging a Mariner between first and second and then Zobrist throwing back to catcher Dioner Navarro to tag out a Mariner trying to score.

Zobrist grew up Illinois playing baseball and basketball. "I grew up watching (Chicago Bulls basketball star) Michael Jordan," he said. "On the days when it was snowing, you stayed inside, and that's when you played basketball."

During the summer, he would go out and play Wiffle ball rather than stick to hoops. And summer also brought major league baseball, and Zobrist loved to watch his favorite teams.

Because he lived between Chicago and St. Louis, he had a hard time choosing between the Cubs and the Cardinals.

"My favorite baseball player was Ozzie Smith," said Zobrist about the Cardinal shortstop known as the Wizard of Oz. "He was just different. He was . . . acrobatic."

You may think that Zobrist eats and sleeps baseball, but he does have other interests. "When there aren't any baseball games, I like to spend time with my wife,'' he said. "Also, a couple of weeks ago I got to go to the beach!" When he feels like listening to music, he'll usually grab his iPod, and tune in Coldplay, especially the band's song The Scientist.

If you want to play in the major leagues, Zobrist says it is important to play hard. "Have fun with it, and be competitive . . . because you might not play forever."

Brett Phillips, 13, is in eighth grade at Tarpon Springs Middle School. Information from Times files was used in this report.

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