As 2020 comes to a close, it’s safe to assume we’re all ready to move forward. But in a year filled with so many negatives, two Tampa Bay Rays players will remember it for a couple of positives.
The Rays’ thrilling run through the postseason was impressive, but it may never have happened without two unlikely heroes.
Mike Brosseau’s game-winning home run in Game 5 of the American League Division Series to eliminate the Yankees was a story that couldn’t have written itself any better. Just over a month after Yankees pitcher Aroldis Chapman intentionally threw a pitch at Brosseau’s head, the Rays’ utility player got his revenge. The home run earned his team a spot in the American League Championship Series and earned itself the top spot in Brosseau’s rankings of best memories throughout his lifetime.
The memory in the number 2 spot didn’t happen too long after.
”That moment of realizing when the ball goes up and seeing the right fielder catch it and the realization of going to the World Series was a really cool moment that people don’t talk about,” Brosseau said. “Those two moments are probably one-two and pretty sweet that they both happened in one season.”
Game 4 of that World Series provided another dramatic highlight. Brett Phillips’ improbable walk-off hit evened up the series for Tampa Bay. It was even more special because he’s a Seminole native and lifelong Rays fan.
”It means a lot to myself and to my family and obviously the fans of this area. It’s been very exciting,” said Phillips.
While Phillips’ heroics were universally talked about following Game 4, and even earned Sports Illustrated’s Game of the Year award a couple of weeks ago, his life hasn’t actually changed that much.
”People in general recognize me just a little more, but for everything else, it’s been pretty much the same. I enjoy quality time with my wife and family here in town, lay low in the offseason,” said Phillips.
Despite his own turn in the national spotlight, Brosseau’s life doesn’t look all that different either.
”I think it’s happened more than I would’ve expected just because I’m back home in my hometown this offseason, so if I go to the local grocery store, people watch the World Series because they maybe knew I was there or they’re baseball fans and they knew I was from the area,” said Brosseau.
“So yeah, it’s been a little bit more recognized, but not too bad, it’s still good.”
Come 2021, these two unheralded players may be even more recognized … if they’re able to take off their masks.