10/18/08 8:40 PM ET
Crist throws out Game 6 first pitch
Rays bestow ceremonial honors on Florida governor
By Brittany Ghiroli / MLB.com
That was the theme of the Rays' pregame celebrations for Saturday night's Game 6 of the American League Championship Series. Fresh off wins in two of the series' middle three games in Boston, Tampa Bay handed the ceremonial first-pitch duties to first-timer and Florida Governor, Charlie Crist.
Crist arrived at approximately 7:15 p.m. ET and nearly jumped out of his escorted vehicle, proudly sporting a Rays T-shirt and a broad smile.
The 44th governor of the state of Florida, Crist grew up in St. Petersburg and still owns a residence in the Rays' home city.
"This is going to be a great night [and] a great game," Crist said, smiling. "I predict they are going to win it, and I couldn't be more proud of Tampa Bay and St. Petersburg than I am right now."
Joining Crist in the pregame festivities was growing favorite B.K. Jackson, a local saxophonist who performed the national anthem for the third time this postseason. Jackson, a student at Tampa's Blake High School, performed in Games 1 and 2, and was excited to back.
As was former professional wrestler Brian "Nasty" Knobs, a longtime Rays fan, who posed for pictures and helped get the throng of fans outside of Gate 4 loud and rowdy.
But perhaps no one was as excited as Crist, who saw several members of the Rays Dance Team and yelled, "Are you ready? I'm ready!"
Crist also knows his baseball. He served as general counsel for the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues in St. Petersburg from 1982-87, but joked about needing some more practice for his first pitch.
"I don't feel any pressure at all," he said, prior to the famed toss. "The pressure will be all on the real guys on the field."
And like any good politician, Crist had a sound opinion on those guys on the field.
"I predict [the Rays] are going to win it," he said, before raising his first in the air. "Let's go Rays! Let's win this thing and take it to the World Series."
Brittany Ghiroli is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.