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For these Tampa Bay Rays, when the jersey comes off, the name remains

Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Tim Beckham (1), who had his name tattooed across his back when he was 17, stands for a portrait at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Fla. on Thursday, March 9, 2017.
Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Tim Beckham (1), who had his name tattooed across his back when he was 17, stands for a portrait at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Fla. on Thursday, March 9, 2017.
Published Mar. 14, 2017

PORT CHARLOTTE — Most ballplayers spend more than 200 days in uniform with their names across the back of their jerseys — — unless they're on the Yankees, or playing at home for the Giants or Red Sox.

Yet there are some, including a handful in the Rays spring clubhouse, who have opted for even more permanent branding, with their names tattooed across their backs.

"They just don't ever want to be out of uniform, I guess," cracked Rays first baseman Logan Morrison, who has "Carpe Diem" on his back. "They're gamers."

For the four Rays who agreed to talk about their back tattoos — and a fifth who declined and asked to not be identified — their reasons had more to do with their life off the field than anything they did on it.

Here are their stories:

Far from his Midwest roots, Odorizzi was pitching in rookie ball in Arizona at 18 with a lot of free time on his hands when he got his.

"I wanted to get a tattoo and I couldn't really think of anything too meaningful," Odorizzi said. "And obviously your name is a very meaningful thing."

His plan then was to put his name across his shoulders, then use the rest of his back as a canvas for the family he would eventually have.

Now married to high school sweetheart Carissa and parents of a 1-year-old son, Rhett, Odorizzi expects to add on soon.

"I was kind of laying down the base," he said. "I had a bigger vision for it, and I just haven't gotten around to it yet. Probably this offseason I'll have some more work done. I need to go to a tattoo shop to get some ideas. I'm not as creative as those people."

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi (23) during a Spring Training workout at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Fla. on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017.

In addition to being a good athlete, Beckham grew up in the Atlanta area with a knack for drawing and lettering, expensive tastes and a vision of grand success.

And before emerging as the top pick of the June 2008 draft, he decided at age 17 the way to merge and express those thoughts was to have his name tattooed across his muscular shoulders in the old English lettering he liked.

"I knew it was something I always wanted," Beckham said.

Why?

"My mom and dad always said I was going to grow up to be successful," Beckham said. "I never knew what I was going to be successful in. I kind of took different paths at one point when I was younger than straightened up, but that's a long story.

"I always loved expensive things, and my dad said, 'Man, you're going to have to be successful or else you're going to be screwed in this life.' I've always had a good personality and I can make people laugh. I always felt like I would be something, not to sound cocky or not to sound full of myself or whatever.

"I remember in the sixth grade, I started signing my name on my papers. The teacher said you need to print, but I'm like signing every time, just practicing my signature. I thought that was pretty funny."

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Much of Beckham's arms and torso are now covered in ink, the details ranging from a grandmother's obituary photo to an Interstate 75 road sign to a drawing of his pitbull Sergio to a Corinthians verse to a clock showing the time he was born.

But the name will always be among the most special.

"I think it's powerful," he said. "I just think it's powerful."

Beckham has plans to extend the familial theme, hoping to add tattoos of a childhood photo of himself with his two brothers and since-divorced parents ("Just a sick portrait of me and my family when it was good") and his future kids.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Tim Beckham (1), who had his name tattooed across his back when he was 17, stands for a portrait at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Fla. on Thursday, March 9, 2017.

Pitcher Eveland was 22, back in SoCal after making his big-league debut in 2005, when brother Kyle asked if he'd help celebrate his 18th birthday at a tattoo parlor.

"He wanted to get a tattoo and he wanted to get our name on his back, so I was like, 'Okay, that's pretty cool, let's do it together,' " Eveland said. "It was really his idea more than mine. The design and everything was his. I just did it for him. … It had nothing to do with baseball. We take a lot of pride in our family name."

In 2013, while playing in Korea, Eveland had the phrase "Family First" — or at least that's what his translator said it was — added above his name.

A gregarious well-traveled veteran, Eveland dishes plenty and in return has heard his share of kidding over the years about the tattoo.

"That next spring everyone started goofing on it and joking about it," Eveland said. "Guys are like, 'Hey, why don't you get your number on your back as well?' And I always come back with, 'Well, I've had 40 different numbers, which one do you want me to put?' "

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Dana Eveland (50) sits for a portrait at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Fla. on Thursday, March 9, 2017. Eveland is one of several players in major league camp who has his name tattooed across his back.

Wood was living a long day's drive from his family back in Arkansas as a freshman at Howard College in Big Spring, Texas, when he decided to get the first of more than a dozen tats.

"I liked tattoos and thought it was cool, a way to put ink on my body," said Wood, who was added to the 40-man roster after making it to Double-A last season. "I didn't tell my dad until after the school year was over that I had gotten any tattoos."

Starting with his last name was not part of any grand plan, though it has provided a good background for photos his wife, Hannah, has taken of sons Easton and Rawling.

"I guess not that much thought went into it," Wood said. "I just decided to do it."

Photo provided

Getting his last name tattooed across his back was not in Rays minor-leaguer Hunter Wood's plan. But it has provided a good background for photos his wife, Hannah, has taken of sons Easton, pictured here, and Rawling.

Staff photographer Will Vragovic contributed this report. Marc Topkin can be reached at mtopkin@tampabay.com. Follow @ TBTimes_Rays.

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