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Ex-Rays now living their Series dreams

Midseason moves make Fall Classic a reality.

By MARC TOPKIN

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 19, 2000


NEW YORK -- Rick White already has played in thousands of World Series games.

Right there on the corner of Tackett Street and Loney Court in Springfield, Ohio, with the manhole cover as home plate, battling for the championship against the rest of his neighborhood buddies.

"Where I lived everyone loved the Reds," White said, "so you used to pretend who was who on the Reds and just kind of live out your little fantasies. When I was pitching I'd be Tom Seaver and when I was hitting I was Pete Rose."

Growing up in Tennessee, Bubba Trammell did the same thing, stepping up to the plate in the back yard and the school yard. "Game 7, World Series, bases loaded, bottom of the ninth, down by two or three, and you come through," Trammell said. "Just like almost every kid has thought about it."

Saturday, the two former Devil Rays will realize those dreams, suiting up for the Mets and taking part in their first -- official -- World Series. Two other ex-Rays, Jose Canseco and Dwight Gooden, will be sitting in the other dugout.

"It still hasn't sunk in," White said, waving a bottle of champagne in the midst of the Mets' pennant clinching celebration Monday night.

Trammell and White first discussed the possibilities on the way back from Kauffman Stadium to their Kansas City hotel after being informed of their July 28 trade to the Mets.

"We realized we were in a playoff drive," Trammell said, "and we started talking about how great it would be to get an opportunity to be where we're at and hopefully continue on and be a World Series champion."

The two are here because the Devil Rays were struggling and already looking to the future, welcoming the opportunity to acquire pitcher Paul Wilson and outfielder Jason Tyner, two players whom they believe can have an impact for years to come.

While it was difficult to leave their friends and, at least temporarily, their families in Florida, the two are pleased with the turn of events.

"When we started the year with Tampa Bay I thought we might go to the World Series because I thought we had a good team," White said. "We probably had the most powerful team in all of baseball, even though we were hurt a lot. Who knows? If Juan (Guzman) and Wilson (Alvarez) had been healthy, they might have been able to help out. But from Day 1 we just never got anything going.

"To come over here in the middle of the season and be right in the middle of things from Day 1, it went from a dull year to a very exciting one."

Gooden, who has a World Series ring from the Mets in 1986 and one from the Yankees in 1996, knows what White is talking about. He started the year by signing a minor-league contract with the Astros, was essentially given away to the Devil Rays in a transaction announced as a trade for cash considerations, and was released by Tampa Bay after six inconsistent weeks.

Two weeks later, he was signed by the Yankees and working out in their minor-league facility. Four months later, he's back in the World Series. It couldn't have been much better.

"For myself, the way everything worked out this year, I could have never imagined coming back with the Yankees and getting the chance to face the Mets at Shea Stadium (during interleague play). I was overwhelmed by that whole situation. And without a doubt if I get the opportunity this time around it will even be bigger. This is what it's all about."

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