© St. Petersburg Times, published March 17, 2002
BOBBLING ALONG: It's one thing to see yourself on TV or in the paper. It's another to be on posters and highway billboards, as several Rays are.
But your own bobblehead doll? "Crazy, isn't it?" Toby Hall said.
The Rays will give away bobbleheads of Hall (Sept. 8) and outfielder Jason Tyner (June 2). The players are circling the dates, if for no reason than to perfect their needling.
So what will a bobblehead doll of Tyner, who seems generously listed at 6 feet 1 and 170 pounds, look like?
"Probably like a GI Joe figure with eyeblack and a wrist band," Steve Cox said. "I think it will be the only life-sized bobblehead."
"They're going to have to create a life-sized image," Hall said.
"Probably like a fungo bat," Brent Abernathy said. "And he might be squared around to bunt or something."
And the Hall doll?
"He'll have his mask on top of his head, his mirrored Oakleys on and that nice little moustache," Abernathy said. "And I'm sure it will have a couple of gold chains: The Mr. T starter set. I'm sure they'll do it up right."
"Lots of jewelry and facial hair," Tyner said.
"Necklaces, bracelets and his little pullover sweater," Cox said.
Hall and Tyner expect plenty of grief. They also know they'll be getting plenty of special requests from teammates.
"Steve Cox collects them, so I told him I'd make sure he got one," Tyner cracked. "I told him I'd even sign it and personalize it for him."
FOND MEMORIES: Whenever Hal McRae makes the 20-minute trip from his Bradenton home to McKechnie Field, he passes up the stadium lots and pays $3 to park next door at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Manatee County.
His charity comes with a history. McRae moved to Bradenton when he was a young player with Cincinnati in the late '60s and spent a few offseasons working as a recreation coordinator at the club. "I'd organize the pool tournaments and the inside games," he said. "Back then you had to work during the winter."
THE SI JINX?: The official name of the ballpark is wrong, but Sports Illustrated had something nice to say about the Rays' spring home, ranking it among the five best places to watch exhibition games: "Al Lang Field, St. Petersburg. Don't want to watch the Devil Rays? Instead, take in the picturesque scene of sailboats tacking on Tampa Bay beyond leftfield."
Baseball America's list of the top 30 Rays prospects as listed in the new edition of the Prospect Handbook:
-- Players in bold are in major-league camp.
"I hope they ate early."
-- NICK BIERBRODT, Rays pitcher, when told there was a special Tuesday in Fort Myers that fans could get a beer and a brat for $8 while he was pitching. He didn't make it out of the first inning.
The fourth of our weekly guesses on the composition of the opening day 25-man roster:
PITCHERS (11): Tanyon Sturtze, Paul Wilson, Joe Kennedy, Wilson Alvarez, Ryan Rupe, Esteban Yan, Victor Zambrano, Travis Phelps, Jesus Colome, Doug Creek, Steve Kent.
CATCHERS (2): Toby Hall, John Flaherty.
INFIELDERS (7): Steve Cox, Brent Abernathy, Chris Gomez, Jared Sandberg, Russ Johnson, Bobby Smith, Jason Smith.
OUTFIELDERS (5): Greg Vaughn, Jason Tyner, Ben Grieve, Randy Winn, Troy O'Leary.
DL (2): Kevin McGlinchy, Nick Bierbrodt.