There's just a little more time to wait as the Princeton Devil Rays will be raising the curtain on the 2005 Appalachian League season at home on June 21. Could there be any better time for you to receive your June edition of "Raywatch," the official e-mail newsletter of the P-Rays than right now? Tune your every thought to your hometown team as we dive into the latest scoops concerning "your boys."
TEAM ARRIVAL: The 2005 edition of the Princeton Devil Rays will be landing at Yeager Airport in Charleston, West Virginia at 8:35 p.m. on Friday, June 17. They will then immediately travel by bus to Hunnicutt Field and are expected to arrive between 10:30 p.m.-11:00 p.m. at the stadium. We encourage any fans that are interested to come out and meet the bus and show the 2005 squad a resounding welcome.
PRESEASON PRACTICE SCHEDULE: The Princeton Devil Rays will conduct three preseason practices at Hunnicutt Field prior to the beginning of this season and fans are invited to attend these workouts free of charge as our guests. This kicks off with an afternoon workout at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 18 while the June 19 and June 20 practices will both begin at 6:00 p.m. Workouts are expected to last around three to three and a half hours in length.
"MEET THE DEVIL RAYS": The ninth annual "Meet the Princeton Devil Rays" will take place from 5:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Hunnicutt Field Sunday, June 19 just prior to the team's evening workout on that date. As part of this event, fans are encouraged to come down on the field and meet the young men who will wear the Princeton colors in 2005. This has always been a fan favorite and we remind you to please be early as the "meet and greet" will strictly be limited to the allotted half-hour designated.
NEXT P-RAYS' BOOSTERS MEETING: There will be a meeting of the Princeton Devil Rays Booster Club at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 16 at Hunnicutt Field. The club welcomes back Bobby Choate as President for 2005. Bobby previously was President of professional baseball booster clubs in Princeton from 1992-1993 and 1995-1998. Bobby encourages anyone interested in helping the players to acclimate to our area easier or to make Princeton feel more like home away from home to the players to consider attending the June 16 meeting.
BUS TRIP, BUS TRIP: A good time was had by all, who went on the P-Rays' June 11 bus trip to PNC Park in Pittsburgh to see the Tampa Bay Devil Rays do battle with the Pittsburgh Pirates. There is still another P-Rays' bus trip this summer, this time "Appalachian League style," on Saturday, July 30 to see our P-Rays take the field versus the Greeneville Astros in Greeneville, TN. Cost of the trip is $25.00 per person and this includes all transportation costs and your game ticket. The bus will depart the parking area in front of the Hunnicutt Field ticket office at 2:30 p.m. and return to Princeton immediately following the completion of the 7:00 p.m. game. The P-Rays are now accepting reservations for the trip and for more information, you may contact the P-Rays' front office either by e-mail at email@example.com or by telephone at (304) 487-2000.
MAY TRIVIA QUESTION: Since the inception of our e-mail newsletter, we have had a monthly trivia question but last month we gave you a "mega" trivia question to separate the contenders from the pretenders. We gave you a question, which we termed tough but "could be answered" and three of you were still able to answer the call with the correct response to this very difficult inquiry. To review, the May trivia question was "Who are the only two former Princeton players who have played Major League Baseball at some point in their careers to be involved in a trade for each other?" Well, the answer was catcher Humberto Cota (1998 P-Ray, who is now a major leaguer with the Pirates), and pitcher Jeff Sparks (1995 Princeton Red, who later pitched in 23 games in parts of the 1999 and 2000 major league seasons for Tampa Bay). The trade was executed on July 23, 1999 and involved Tampa Bay sending catchers Joe Oliver and Humberto Cota to Pittsburgh for outfielder Jose Guillen and pitcher Jeff Sparks. Ironically, during a Cota at-bat in the game attended by our bus trip travelers to Pittsburgh on June 11, that transaction was actually flashed on the scoreboard at PNC Park. To solve this question, we here at "Raywatch" would have went to our website at www.princetondevilrays.com and looked at the section that listed all the former Princeton players that have played major league baseball and then look them up individually until a player was found with a transaction that involved another former Princeton player which would have solved the question. We asked our three winners to share with you how they found the right answer:
Cy Campbell of Denton, TX writes: "I went to the P-Rays' team website and pulled up the list of all of our major leaguers and went through them and when I got to Cota, I remember the day he was traded and something seemed to click. I went to a baseball reference, pulled up his bio, and there was the answer under trades and transactions. It was a good question this month (May) and it took a little more time to research it, but it can be answered."
Frank Lewis of Rupert writes: "I started with my personal knowledge of Princeton baseball and thought of former players who have played Major League Baseball and were not with a major league team that has been affiliated with Princeton. From that I went to the internet searching baseball history and found Baseball-reference.com. It has major league statistics and history. I checked on Cota's history and followed upon those players involved in his trade to Pittsburgh. This may have not been the shortest route to the right answer but it worked."
Ron Martin of Clemmons, NC writes: "Raywatch" brought it hard with the May question and I must confess that originally I was a little concerned that I was going to be unable to answer it. However, I have "game" and was not going to be denied. As I pondered, I knew that Humberto Cota has bounced around with several major league organizations and I remembered he was once involved in a trade with Joe Oliver. I looked up the trade on www.baseball-reference.com and that refreshed my memory and gave me the immediate answer. I am glad the question was tough and it was a challenge."
THE "NO-NO" BOYS: Three former Princeton pitchers (Jino Gonzalez, Jose Delacruz, and Matt Larson) combined to throw a no-hitter for the Southwest Michigan Devil Rays on May 28 versus Beloit in the Class-A Midwest League.
HE JUST KEEPS HITTING: After an impressive earlier stint with Tampa Bay this year, Jonny Gomes (2001 P-Ray) was shipped back to AAA Durham, where he kept pounding homers and statistically lobbying for a re-call to the "bigs." The chance arrived with his return to Tampa Bay on June 13 and he promptly belted a home run in his first game back, as part of a Devil Ray victory over the Milwaukee Brewers at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, FL.
"We want to give this young man as many at bats as we can," commented TB manager Lou Piniella on Gomes, who returns to the majors after averaging better than one RBI per game for his entire extended tenure at Durham.
NEW LOOKS: Several new training aids have been added since last year, both to help our team and increase your enjoyment of attending a game at Hunnicutt Field. On the baseball side of things, a new infield playing surface was installed by the Aspen Corporation of Daniels, WV and was made possible largely in part by a contribution from the Hunnicutt Foundation. Secondly, a new and improved outdoor hitting tunnel was installed by two great volunteer helpers, Larry and Greg Pruett of Princeton with assistance from our staff. Third, and for your enjoyment, a speed pitch display has been installed that will show our fans (weather permitting) the speed of every pitch thrown from the mound in game action at Hunnicutt Field this summer. This was made possible through a contribution from Frontier Communications. We would also like to thank the folks from Belcher Sheet Metal & Fabrication as well as local electrician Ralph Simmons also for their efforts on the speed pitch display project.
NEW SOUVIES: In addition to the normal yearly items you find at the P-Rays' souvenir stand, there are some new additions for 2005. These include a TB Devil Rays mini-magnetic bobblehead set that features Carl Crawford (1999), and Rocco Baldelli (2000), a mini TB Rays' Christmas stocking, more assorted baseball jewelry, major league logo baseballs from 12 different teams, and P-Ray mini bats that are available in natural wood finish and in pink, which is among the hottest selling colors on the baseball retail market today.
PITCHER OF THE MONTH: Congratulations to 2003 P-Ray pitcher James Houser, who was named the Tampa Bay organization's "Pitcher of the Month" for May, 2005. He achieved this honor as a member of the Class-A Southwest Michigan Devil Rays' pitching staff.
OUR OPENING HOMESTAND: Be part of what promises to be a great season for our fans right out of the gate at our opening game on June 21. The home opener will feature "Cheerstix" given to the first 200 fans through the gate (courtesy of First Community Bank) while all youth baseball players wearing their jersey tops will receive FREE admission to this game (also courtesy of First Community Bank). Also on June 21, the first 700 fans will receive a FREE full process color magnet schedule (courtesy of Little Caesar's Pizza).
The June 22 game will feature prizes given away by the Omelet Shoppe of Princeton and will be followed by Kroger Global Logo Baseball Night on June 23. The first 500 fans at the June 23 game will receive a FREE P-Rays logo baseball (courtesy of Kroger) and also at the June 23 game, once again all youth baseball players wearing their jersey tops will receive FREE admission (courtesy of Princeton Elks Lodge #1459). The logo baseballs will be interesting since this will be Kroger's sixth straight year of sponsoring the event and each year the ball has a different design. Be sure not to miss this night, especially if you have the entire Kroger collection to date.
SUMMER'S E-NEWS: As has been the case with the past two summers, a regular monthly issue of "Raywatch" is currently not planned for July or August. However, you will receive more frequent (but shorter) updates on the happenings of the Princeton Devil Rays since we will be in the middle of all the action of Appalachian League baseball. In conjunction with this fact, there will be no June trivia question in this e-mail issue.
So there you have it. Before we post the lineup cards for the first game, we hope you will have purchased either your box seats or your discount season ticket booklets. The P-Rays front office staff have worked very hard this summer and have made it their goal to show you a great time this summer and stated as much with our slogan for 2005:
OUR FOCUS...YOUR SUMMER!
Next time we meet will be in the stands at Hunnicutt Field, either for our preseason practices and certainly no later than our opening game on June 21. Pack up your cheers and your smiles and head for the ballpark. We'll be waiting for you!!
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