Without once putting on the uniform, Rocco Baldelli has already distinguished himself as the classiest player on the Red Sox. That’s because the former Rays outfielder took out a half-page ad in the ST. PETERSBURG TIMES thanking Tampa fans for all their support.
Baldelli, a Rhode Island native, must be thrilled to be playing for his favorite team growing up. But he’s not forgetting the only franchise he’s ever known, and one that’s been nothing but supportive through his myriad health problems. “It’s where I got my start,” he said. “I have a lot of friends, and I will always have some friends down there, so it will always be a special place for me.” (Full text of the letter, after the jump.)
To the fans of Tampa Bay: Nine years ago you welcomed me into your community. You greeted me as a name and embraced me as a person, and I leave you now as a friend.
Giving thanks is a difficult thing to do as I have crossed paths with so many extraordinary people, but I will try.
I will always think of the Tampa Bay area as my second home and I would like to thank everyone for accepting me and for making my time here as enjoyable as it was.
I will never forget.
Thank you once again.
Baldelli didn’t have to do a thing to earn the respect of Rays fans, or baseball at large, but he wanted to do something.
“It was a thought I had the last couple of weeks,” said Baldelli. “I thought about it with my family and friends, and they thought it was something I should do. I just thought it was the right thing to do. I wanted to make it personable. I didn’t know exactly how I wanted to do it. I thought about writing a note on paper by hand would be a nice way to do it.”
Baldelli wrote it and sent it to a friend to make sure it sounded appropriate because he hasn’t written anything in 10 years. He wanted to make it real. He did.
That’s a nice move, Rocco. Now make sure you strike out with the bases loaded against the Yankees, and you’ll have my respect too.