The Rays Welcome My Son “Home” on Opening Day

When we transplanted our New England family to Tampa eight years ago, I thought our family’s love for the Red Sox would transplant easily, too. Nope. Like something grown from his own sandy garden of Floridian soil, my 9 year old son has tended his love for the Rays for most of his life. He has a poster of The Trop on his wall, Longoria’s T-shirts are stuffed into his drawers and he carries an old, worn Rays backpack everyday to school. The Rays are something he has adopted, watched loyally on TV and emulated in our backyard with wiffle balls, pop flies over the house and whispered replays.

So, when I got an email from the marketing folks at the Rays asking if I would come to Opening Day and watch the game from their Blogger’s Suite, all I could think of was my son. And how perfect this match was, really.

I kept the secret though. I didn’t tell him that I was going to spring him from school on Tuesday afternoon. Dressing him in his favorite Rays t-shirt that morning was nothing new. But finding his mom dressed in her Rays t-shirt, in the school’s front office in the middle of the day, was most definitely something new.

He asked hurried details and reread the day’s itnerary all the way down to the game. We got there 2 hours early, and that was fine by him. We circled the park and laughed at the booming music, the tail-gating, the sea of blue jerseys and smiling faces. Once inside, he wanted to go directly to the suite. So, we did. And, once we were there, my son wanted nothing to do with any socializing. He wanted to watch the game and take in every single detail on the field. Forget the chit-chat. Opening Day? For the Rays? Come on, people. It’s not Spring Training any longer. This is serious business. He sat front and center and ignored everything but the game.

They didn’t win, as much as I hoped that they would. But that was OK. My 9 year old assured himself me that there were so many more games left in the season. And we would be back (“Right? Right, mom?”) and we would see a win. Because that’s the best part about baseball. There are enough games that there’s time to sit and savor the experience. We can munch our popcorn and watch the flow and appreciate it’s calm process and deliberate order.

Tampa has become a very comfortable spot to raise my family. But, for my son,Tampa is home. And The Trop is a familiar, magical spot that he comes back to every season. A place that he knows and studies on TV and remembers from seasons before. On Opening Day, my son was back in his element. A home I never anticipated–but his home, still.

#WelcomeHome, indeed.

On our way out the door, the very kind folks at The Trop gave us some fun giveaways that will be available to fans at future games.

The David Prive Cy Young Figurine will be given away on April 6th when the Rays play the Cleveland Indians.
The Astro Bobblehead will be given away on April 21st when the Rays play the Oakland Athletics.
The Joe Maddon Garden Gnome (MY personal favorite, love it!) will be given away on April 24th when the Rays play the Yankees.

All opinions in this blog post are my own. The Rays gave me two tickets to the Opening Day game and a few giveaways but I was not given any paid compensation for my blog post or tweets.

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