ST. PETERSBURG, FL—The Tampa Bay Rays begin a six-game homestand on Friday, April 20, with a three-game series against the Minnesota Twins (April 20-22) followed by a three-game set with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (April 24-26).
The Rays will be celebrating Earth Day and promoting sustainability and conservation initiatives over the weekend. On Friday, April 20, the Rays, in partnership with the Florida Aquarium, are introducing a refreshed, remodeled Rays Touch Tank above center field. Through this partnership, the Rays continue to support the aquarium’s goal of inspiring conservation through greater understanding and involvement with our aquatic habitats.
Also on Friday, April 20, the Rays and the Baseball Writers’ Association of America will present Rays Manager Joe Maddon and starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson with their trophies for the 2011 American League Manager of the Year award and the 2011 AL Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award, respectively. Maddon received 26 of 28 first-place votes last fall.
On Saturday, April 21, the Rays are teaming up with Tropicana Pure Premium to promote respect for the environment and responsible use of natural resources. Local Tropicana grower Paul Fabry will be involved in the game’s activities, including the ceremonial first pitch. Additionally, the Rays concessions partner, Centerplate, will be using locally-grown produce from Sweetwater Organic Farm in Tampa and from other local growers in the restaurants and clubs throughout Tropicana Field. During Saturday’s batting practice, Rays players will wear green caps, which will be available through auction on raysbaseball.com to support the Rays “Teaming up for the Environment” programs, including “Break a Bat, Plant a Ball.”
Also on Saturday, April 21, 1964 Rookie of the Year award winner Tony Oliva will visit the Ted Williams Museum to receive his Ted Williams Bat and be inducted into the Ted Williams Hall of Fame. Oliva will receive his bat on the field prior to Saturday’s game, and is slated to throw out the ceremonial first pitch Sunday, April 22 before the Rays-Twins game at 1:40 p.m. The eight-time All-Star and member of the Twins Hall of Fame is scheduled to sign autographs inside the main entrance of the Ted Williams Museum located on the main concourse near the Gate 1 Rotunda both Saturday and Sunday prior to each game. Fans can make a $10 donation or purchase a ball or photo for $20 to receive a signature. All proceeds will benefit the Ted Williams Foundation.
On Sunday, April 22, in partnership with Tampa Bay Watch, the Rays are launching “Break a Bat, Plant a Ball.” If a Rays hitter breaks a bat during a game, the Rays will plant an oyster ball with Tampa Bay Watch. Oyster balls help control erosion, provide habitat for fish and wildlife, and keep the waters of Tampa Bay clean. Additionally, the Rays and Progress Energy are promoting the Pinellas County Urban League's Weatherization Assistance Program, which helps local residents save energy and protect the environment.
Also on Sunday, April 22, Stephen Vogt will be recognized in a pregame ceremony for winning the 2012 Al Lopez Award as the Rays most outstanding rookie in spring. Vogt hit .323 (10-for-31) and ranked among Grapefruit League batting leaders before being optioned March 18.
On Tuesday, April 24, Peter Hanhan, a ninth-grader from Valrico, Fla., will be recognized before the Rays-Angels game by Sharon Robinson, the daughter of Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson, as one of 10 finalists in the Breaking Barriers essay contest. Now in its 16th year, “Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life” is a baseball-themed program that gives kids strategies to overcome obstacles in their lives developed by Major League Baseball and Scholastic Inc.
The homestand will feature four unique giveaways. On Friday, April 20, the first 10,000 fans will receive a free Evan Longoria Game 162 collectible T-shirt presented by the Tampa Bay Times. Collectible T-shirts will be distributed throughout the season on Free Shirt Friday which is part of Friday Fest presented by Captain Morgan. On Saturday, April 21, the first 10,000 fans pregame will receive an Evan Longoria Walk-off Figurine which commemorates Longoria’s walk-off home run in the 12th inning of the Rays 8-7 win clinching the American League Wild Card on September 28, 2011, the final day of the regular season. The figurine is presented by Sweetbay Supermarket. Also on Saturday, fans postgame will be given a Rays Tote Bag presented by Tropicana Pure Premium (limited quantity available). On Sunday, April 22, the first 10,000 kids 14 and under will receive a Rays Recycled Youth Hat presented by Mosaic.
TAMPA BAY TIMES FAMILY FUN DAY (every Sunday home game)—Bring the whole family out to Tropicana Field and enjoy family-friendly activities and a chance to run the bases after the game presented by Find the Fun Now. Family Fun Day tickets start at $23 and include a hot dog, Pepsi and snack (subject to availability). Visit raysbaseball.com for details. Ticket prices increase $3 five hours prior to each game and are subject to change at the Rays discretion. Special promotional giveaways are given to the first 10,000 kids 14 and under in attendance.
TICKETS—Tickets for Rays 2012 regular season home games are available at all Ticketmaster outlets, the Rays Tampa Store (400 N. Tampa St.) and the Gate 1 Tropicana Field Box Office, as well as over the phone at 888-FAN-RAYS and 1-800-745-3000, or online at raysbaseball.com.
GATES OPEN—Monday through Thursday 1½ hours prior to game time; Friday through Sunday two hours prior to game time. The Center Field Street in Tropicana Field will open two hours prior to game time during the Rays-Angels series (April 24-26), fans should enter through Gate 1 Rotunda.