On Wednesday night at Fenway Park, Kyle Farnsworth pitched a spotless ninth inning in support of David Price as the Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Boston Red Sox, 4-0, to take two out of a crucial three-game set.
Back home on Thursday, with his team enjoying a day off, Farnsworth knew just where he could celebrate and relax before the Rays resumed their chase of a playoff spot. After thoroughly enjoying his time in the shadow of the Green Monster, Farnsworth visited another one of the nation's most instantly recognizable sports arenas: Raymond James Stadium.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers played their 2011 preseason home opener on Thursday night, taking on the New England Patriots, and just as it was in 2010 the Buccaneers' home has become the place to be in the Bay area on a game day. In fact, Farnsworth wasn't even the only Ray in attendance; Tampa Bay Manager Joe Maddon also came across the Bay to cheer on his gridiron counterparts.
Maddon and Buccaneers Head Coach Raheem Morris are close friends, and Morris invited Maddon into the tunnel as the home team was introduced before the game. The Rays' skipper then stayed with the Bucs on the home sideline before moving to his seats in the second quarter.
"We've got to come support the Bucs whenever we possibly can," said Maddon. "It's unusual that the off-day would coincide with [a Bucs] game. Raheem and the boys came down to spring training, they come to our games often before [their] season kicks into gear, so it's a sign of support."
The Buccaneers friends from the Rays weren't the only noteworthy fans on hand Thursday night. Upstairs in the owners' suite, a large group of some of the most influential and charitable figures in the Bay area enjoyed the game as special guests of the Glazer family. Taking a night off from their important work for such organizations as the United Way of Tampa Bay, the Humane Society and the American Cancer Society, the 18 invited guests enjoyed a prime view of the action on the field and all the amenities of a RJS luxury suite.
Those 18 community-minded fans, each of whom also brought a guest of their own, included:
- MaryEllen Elia, Superintendent, Hillsborough County School District
- Gwen Luney, Assistant Superintendent, Hillsborough County School District
- W. David Braughton, President & CEO, Crisis Center of Tampa Bay
- Sandy McLaughlin, Director of Advancement, Crisis Center of Tampa Bay
- Janice Davis, Executive Director & CEO, Ronald McDonald House Charities
- Stephen Koch, Executive Director, Big Brothers/Big Sisters
- Jeff Rainey, President & CEO, Hillsborough Kids, Inc.
- Andy Kramer, Director, American Cancer Society
- Morris Hintzman, President, Metropolitan Ministries
- Valerie Brimm, Director-Strategic Partnerships, Pinellas County School District
- Debby Kotch, Director, St. Joseph's Hospital Foundation
- Kelly Haynes, Chief Operating Officer, Florida's Vision Quest
- Doug Arnold, VP-Marketing, United Way of Tampa Bay
- Afira DeVries, VP-Resource Development, United Way of Tampa Bay
- Kelly Akerley, Executive Director, Children's Home Society of Florida-Gulf Coast Division
- Connie Johnson, Board Member, Humane Society of Tampa
- Robert Blount, President, Abe Brown Ministries, Inc.