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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Pomp and circumstance
A graduation theme for the Rays.
By MARC TOPKIN
Published May 20, 2007
It's graduation season, and in between planning the party and buying the gifts (don't worry, Carlyn ... ), we wondered who among the Rays had the most - and the most interesting - education. This wasn't exactly thesis-quality research, but of nine Rays we found who attended college, the only one with a degree is SS Brendan Harris, who majored in political science and minored in business at William & Mary. Harris went to the Williamsburg, Va., school on an ROTC scholarship with thoughts of law school and a job as a prosecutor, then started thinking more about the business world. He didn't quite graduate with his class but went back the next fall to finish up. "I had a 3.15 GPA, which at William & Mary I was pretty proud of, " he said. Of the other collegians:
Shawn Camp majored in sociology at George Mason and North Alabama with plans of being a social worker.
Tim Corcoran went to LSU and studied forestry to explore the timber business.
Casey Fossum majored in turf management at Texas A&M with the idea he would be a golf course supervisor.
Greg Norton went to Oklahoma thinking about veterinary medicine, then switched to business communication.
Chad Orvella is about a semester shy of a communications degree from N.C. State.
Josh Paul majored in English education at Vanderbilt and planned to be a teacher.
Carlos Pena was into computer engineering and programming at Wright State and Northeastern (where he was proud of his 3.3 GPA) with thoughts of video game design.
Ty Wigginton studied marketing at North Carolina-Asheville, though was thinking more about coaching than business.
Of the others in uniform, bench coach Bill Evers has a degree in management and recreation from Eckerd College, and pitching coach Jim Hickey graduated from Texas-Pan American with a degree in marketing despite majoring - admittedly - in "eligibility." Manager Joe Maddon majored in economics at Lafayette College, and hitting coach Steve Henderson studied industrial technology at Prairie View A&M.
While the front office is stocked with execs with various degrees from Harvard, Stanford and Duke Law School, and senior VP Gerry Hunsicker has a master's from Florida International, director of baseball operations Dan Feinstein has the most intriguing of all: a degree from California-Davis in medieval European history.
"I tried a couple different majors, political science and economics, but I couldn't stand the classes, " Feinstein said. "My roommate had a couple history classes so I went to one about the early Romans, and I just found it fascinating.
"When Rome fell, they were spread so thin they had to hire mercenaries to protect the border. They had the enemy playing for them."
Folks from Tampa Bay to Toronto are learning all about Jesse Litsch, the Dixie Hollins High alum who suddenly pitched his way into the Blue Jays rotation. But some of the Rays know the redheaded right-hander rather well, since he was a PR intern in 2000 and a bat boy in 2001-02.
Bullpen catcher Scott Cursi would occasionally let Litsch throw to him and was often impressed that "he had very good stuff, especially for a 16-, 17-year-old." PR chief Rick Vaughn recalled Litsch becoming Albie Lopez's personal good luck charm, as Lopez would regularly rub Litsch's head before each start.
And Carl Crawford remembers Litsch being just a tad on the confident side.
"He was always talking about how he was going to do this and do that and, of course, none of us believed him. I guess he proved all of us wrong, " Crawford said. "He'd always be saying, 'C.C., I'm going to be pitching against you one day.' I was like, 'Yeah, whatever.' It goes to show you he must have known something we didn't."
The top 10 times the Rays have made the Top 10
The Devil Rays want to matter more. If being made fun of by David Letterman is a gauge, they're getting there. Letterman picked on the Rays again in one of his recent snarky Top 10 lists. Here's our top 10 of his Top 10 cracks about the Rays:
Top 10 ways Paris Hilton is preparing for jail:
7. Attending Tampa Bay Devil Rays games to get used to solitary (May 7, 2007).
Top 10 signs you have too many kids:
7. Family Whiffle Ball game has larger attendance than Devil Rays games (Oct. 13, 2005).
Top 10 signs you're dumb:
2. You're a Tampa Bay Devil Rays season-ticket holder (May 16, 2002).
Top 10 good things about a baseball strike:
4. Have you seen the Devil Rays? (July 31, 2002).
Top 10 questions most often asked at a 99 cent store:
8. Do these Tampa Bay Devil Rays sweatshirts come in medium? (Oct. 10, 2001).
Top 10 signs your baseball team is on drugs:
10. Your first baseman demanded a trade to the Devil Rays (Sept. 27, 2002).
Top 10 signs your baseball team isn't ready for the regular season:
2. Team name contains words "Devil" and "Rays" (March 27, 2002).
Top 10 signs you're talking to a bad phone psychic:
7. Insists you put all of your money on the Tampa Bay Devil Rays (Sept. 28, 2001).
Top 10 things baseball has taught me, presented by Roger Clemens:
4. The best practical joke? Tell a teammate they're traded to the Devil Rays (June 16, 2003).
Top 10 good things about being the mother of someone famous:
5. Derek Jeter's mom, Dot: Sometimes when they're playing the Devil Rays, Derek lets me come in for a few innings (May 12, 2000).