Last week, we told you of the postseason dilemma facing the Tampa Bay Rays - namely, who was going to throw out the ceremonial first pitch? There were all sorts of suggestions, ranging from Dick Vitale, Wade Boggs, Hulk Hogan, and many, many more.
Well, the 2008 AL East champs have finally made their decisions for not one, but two games. Game 2’s special pitching guest will be Paul Azinger, captain of the U.S. Ryder Cup team and open campaigner for the golden opportunity. And there’s Paul above, kissing Boo Weekley upon hearing the great news.
But who was awarded the grand prize of hurling the horsehide for the Rays’ first-ever playoff game? The lucky winner is none other than…
As Marc Lancaster of TAMPA BAY ONLINE explains, Mr. Higgins is currently a senior vice president with the club. So, did he win some kind of company raffle? Not quite - Higgins was the first employee hired by the Rays in 1995.
And he won’t be alone on the Tropicana Field field, as Higgins will be joined by 51 other employees who stuck with the club since its inception through thick and thin (but mostly thin). As Rays owner Stuart Sternberg explains:
“The hard work and dedication by our entire organization have enabled us to reach this extraordinary moment. The ceremonial first pitch for our first-ever postseason game is a fitting tribute to their contributions.”
Quite a difference of opinion from team president Matt Silverman, who previously lamented, “We realized nobody in the history of the franchise had done anything to be worthy of the honor.“
If the Rays advance to the ALCS, we’re guessing Matt won’t be on the first-pitch short list.