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Rays tales

MARC TOPKIN
Published May 23, 2004

GAME BOY: First-base coach Billy Hatcher has a couple of teenage kids, so he should be up on pop culture. But he knew nothing about an increasingly popular video game that bears his name: Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg.

The game, made by Sega for the Nintendo GameCube system, features a boy, Billy Hatcher, who is dressed in a magical chicken suit and has the power to grow and hatch eggs.

According to the story, Billy and his "friends" try to defeat the Black Crows and free the Chicken Elders to save Morning Land from being stuck in eternal night. (Sounds a little like playing the Yankees.)

Hatcher didn't know what to make of it all.

"That's crazy," he said. "I've never heard of it. Maybe I should call them and see if they want any help selling the game."

There is also a Web-based version of the game, Billy Hatcher and the Many Eggs at immersion.sega.com/billy/flash/, and a fan site, Billy Hatcher's Den (at www.planetnintendo.com/billyhatcher) On the site is a note from the administrator - who obviously doesn't get out much - about being surprised to find out there was a real Billy Hatcher who played baseball.

PLAY ON: Along those lines, here are some other actual video games that we suggest could have Rays connections:

Let's Make a Pro Baseball Team 2: So you get this expansion team, you say you're going to build with young players, then you sign some big-name, big-money veterans, then you get rid of them and say you're going to go with young players, then you sign some more veterans. Bonus: With contract extensions, can be played for years and years.

Ken Griffey Jr.'s Winning Run: It's like a fantasy/quest game for Rays fans. They know Griffey would like to play for Lou Piniella, near his Orlando home and in the AL, but they have to come up with the creativity to get him and the money to pay him.

Voodoo Vince: The actual game sounds entertaining enough. According to www.gamespot.com: "Puzzler Voodoo Vince does damage to self and smiles. ... The puzzle-based game puts voodoo doll Vince in search of his missing owner, Madam Charmaine. He is required to do damage to himself and, via his voodoo powers, to his enemies. Players have an array of more than 30 different indignities that they can visit upon Vince to get him past his enemy obstacles."

Speed Devils: Race Carl Crawford and Rocco Baldelli around the bases, and watch them run circles around opposing pitchers. Bonus: Add Joey Gathright later this summer.

IN MEMORIAM: We didn't want to let the passing of former major-leaguer Buster Narum last week at age 63 go unnoticed. Narum, a Clearwater High graduate, pitched parts of five seasons for the Orioles and Senators, going 14-27. On March 31, 1964, he was traded from Baltimore to Washington. The player to be named later in the deal: a young minor-league outfielder named Lou Piniella, who made his major-league debut later that season.

BIG NUMBER

42: Percent of pitches thrown by Victor Zambrano that are called balls (480 of 1,150).

YOU DON'T SAY

"In the year and a quarter I've been here, I haven't forgotten how to manage. That I can tell you." - LOU PINIELLA, Rays manager, during the team's struggles

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