1. Sports
  2. /
  3. Rays

Grassroots baseball book tour comes to Tampa

The 224-page book features a chapter on Tampa, and an essay by Hall of Famer Wade Boggs.
The cover of the book Grassroots Baseball: Where Legends Begin [Courtesy Jean Fruth]
Published Nov. 17

Photographer Jean Fruth’s interest in baseball has taken her around the world, and she assembled a collection of those dazzling images highlighting areas where several star players launched their careers, including Tampa, in a coffee table book Grassroots Baseball: Where Legends Begin.

The 16-page Tampa chapter includes a first-person essay by Hall-of-Famer Wade Boggs, detailing how he began playing baseball while living in Brunswick, Ga., but moving to Tampa at age 11 was “the best thing” since it was "a hotbed of baseball talent.''

Boggs writes about playing at Plant High, his draft day experience and the influence of his parents. Also, how after his career he transitioned to coaching at Wharton High, and his goal to help win the annual Tony Saladino tournament.

Wade Boggs, shown coaching Wharton High during a recent Saladino Tournament. [JEAN FRUTH | Special to the Times]

Boggs and Fruth, plus Saladino and former baseball Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson will host a presentation, Q-and-A and book signing 6:30-8:30 Monday night at Tampa’s Oxford Exchange.

Proceeds from admission ($5) and book sales ($60) will go to the Hillsborough Education Fund (benefiting the Saladino Tournament) and Redbone Cystic Fibrosis.

Other players featured in the 224-page book include Hank Aaron, Johnny Bench, Craig Biggio, Whitey Ford, Vladimir Guerrero, Rickey Henderson, Randy Johnson, Juan Marichal, Tony Perez, Cal Ripken Jr., Ivan Rodriguez, Nolan Ryan, Hensley Meulens, Ichiro Suzuki and Fernando Valenzuela.

"Ballpark fare" at Brandon High. [JEAN FRUTH | Special to the Times]

Besides seven other domestic destinations, there are photos from Cuba, Curacao, Dominican Republic, Japan, Mexico and Puerto Rico.

The book is also available via

"Waiting for her pitch,'' features a young player in the Yellow Jackets Little League. [JEAN FRUTH | Special to the Times]


  1. Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Tyler Glasnow (20), right, and Tampa Bay Rays catcher Travis d'Arnaud (37) walk back to the dugout after the first inning in Game 5 of the American League Division Series Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019 in Houston. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    The cheating scandal and sign-stealing investigation will be a popular topic during this week’s winter meetings.
  2. Steven Souza Jr. hit 30 home runs for the Rays in the 2017 season while improving his defense and baserunning, but hit only .239. Tampa Bay Times
    Talented and entertaining outfielder is a free agent after being non-tendered by D-backs, and Rays do need some help.
  3. Could a reunion with outfielder Steven Souza Jr., shown during a 2016 game, be possible for the Rays?
    What they’ve done so far, what they’re looking to do, Hall of Fame possibilities, and rumblings.
  4. GM Erik Neander spoke Thursday about the challenges of making the Rays better. MARC TOPKIN  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Trading Tommy Pham created some financial flexibility heading to winter meetings but the challenge remains.
  5. Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Tommy Pham (29) celebrates inherent dug out after hitting a two run homer in the third inning against the Toronto Blue Jays, September 27, 2019 in Toronto, Ontario. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    Pham said he enjoyed the team Rays had, expected to be pushing with them for a 2020 World Series championship.
  6. Rays fans grew accustomed to scenes such as this last season. Tommy Pham got thrown out on the bases 20 times, which was third-most in the majors. It was also part of a disturbing trend. He was also thrown out 15 times in 2017 and 18 in 2018. DIRK SHADD | Times Photo DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    John Romano | Deciphering Tampa Bay’s offseason moves feels like playing 3D chess. You cannot judge their trades simply by the stats on the back of a baseball card.
  7. San Diego Padres' Hunter Renfroe bats against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the third inning of a baseball game, Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso) RALPH FRESO  |  AP
    Trade with Padres also yields Rays touted prospect Xavier Edwards, costs them Jake Cronenworth.
  8. In this Dec. 6, 2013, file photo, Yankees GM Brian Cashman rappels down One Landmark Square during a charity event in Stamford, Conn. While Cashman was descending the Landmark Building in Stamford on Friday, Dec. 6, 2019, in preparation for a holiday celebration this weekend, he came across a message taped to a 10th-floor window from a fan: Please sign Gerrit Cole. DRU NADLER  |  AP
    New York’s general manager, who met with the prized free agent pitcher on Tuesday, says the sign was taped to a 10th-floor window of the 22-story building in Connecticut.
  9. The post of Blake Snell's reaction to the trade was popular on Twitter Friday. Twitter
    Snell said his comments about Xavier Edwards captured on the Twitch gaming stream weren’t meant to be disrespectful.
  10. San Diego Padres' Hunter Renfroe is congratulated in the dugout after hitting a home run during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Colorado Rockies on Aug. 10. ORLANDO RAMIREZ  |  AP
    Powerful outfielder, prospect are return in deal that sent Tommy Pham and prospect Jake Cronenworth to San Diego.