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I'll Take "Useless Rays Facts" for $800, Alex

Mike Piazza owns two car dealerships in Pennsylvania. Troy Glaus' hometown is the same city where Britney Spears shaved her head. Jason Giambi's middle name is "Gilbert". These are some of the intersting and sometimes bizarre facts I've learned while doing my summer job with the Rays. Yes, I'm the dork who researches those goofy facts that appear on a scoreboard for about six seconds when the opposing team is batting. Following a tough week of losses, the Elijah Dukes mess, and criticism against Joe Maddon, I figured it would be fun to head into the holiday weekend with one "useless" trivial fact about each of your Devil Rays.

Starting with the position players, you'll be amazed to learn that:

  • Carl Crawford was offered a scholarship to play point guard for UCLA's basketball team, and a scholarship to be the option quarterback at Nebraska. Instead, and we couldn't thank him enough, he chose to persue a baseball career.
  • You already know about Rocco Baldelli's multi-talented high school career, but did you know he's already in the Hall of Fame? Yes, the Rhode Island Italian-American Hall of Fame.
  • Elijah Dukes was named USA Today's "Best High School Two-Sport Athlete" in the nation in 2002. Although technically he played three sports: baseball, football, and basketball.
  • Delmon Young went to the same high school, Adolfo Camarillo High in Camarillo, California, as Joe Borchard. The school's mascot is "Scorpy" the scorpion.
  • Carlos Pena's high school, Haverhill High in Haverhill, Massachusetts, was the inspiration for Riverdale High in the Archie comics collection. Rob Zombie also attended the high school.
  • Jorge Cantu's 20 doubles in 173 at-bats during the 2004 season was the most for a Major League ballplayer in as few at-bats since 1938.
  • Brendan Harris' father, Dale, coached current Washington Nationals' pitching coach Randy St. Claire in high school.
  • B.J. Upton's father is also active in sports. Manny Upton, a baseball and football star at Norfolk State University, has refereed ACC basketball games since 1993.
  • Ty Wigginton's sister, Lindsey, was a member of Stanford University's sychronized swimming team. Stanford was the national champion runner-up in 2000.
  • Newcomer Josh Wilson helped his high school, Mount Lebanon High in Mount Lebanon, Pennsylvania, win a state championship in baseball in 1998. In 1999 he .600 with seven homers and 29 RBI.
  • Akinori Iwamura and his wife have a family dog: a toy poodle named "Nuts".
  • Dioner Navarro's middle name is "Fabian".
  • Shawn Riggans played high school ball at the legendary St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale. He never started a single game.
  • Josh Paul graduated from Illinois' Buffalo Grove High School, as did former Major Leaguers Mike Marshall (the outfielder) and Tim Bogar.
  • While playing in the rookie leagues, Johnny Gomes earned his certification to become a personal trainer.
  • Greg Norton and his family reside in Denver, in the same neighborhood as Rays farmhand Dustin Mohr. Oh, Norton's middle name is "Blakemoor".
  • Scott Kazmir's dad, Ed, works for a company owned by Adam Dunn's father.
  • James Shields attended high school with White Sox outfielder Jerry Owens and Baltimore Ravens quarterback Kyle Boller.
  • Jae Seo's birthplace of Gwangju, South Korea, is also the birthplace of pitcher Byung Hyun Kim, and is where infielder Hee Sop Choi went to high school.
  • Casey Fossum was acquired by the Rays in a trade with Arizona on Super Bowl Sunday. He was actually in the Tampa Bay area awaiting an arbitration hearing when he was traded.
  • The first Major League game Edwin Jackson ever attended was a Rays game at Tropicana Field in 2001. Jackson was, at the time, playing in Vero Beach with the Dodgers organization.
  • Al Reyes' real first name is "Rafael". "Al" is his middle name.
  • In case the whole baseball thing doesn't work out for Brian Stokes, he can arrest all of his critics. He majored in criminal justice at Riverside (CA) Community College.
  • Tim Corcoran was part of a record-setting night with the double-A Bowie Baysox in 2003. He allowed seven of the team-record 13 hits, and six of the team-record 14 runs, in a 14-run inning versus New Britain.
  • Say what you will about Gary Glover, but he was the only pitcher on the Nashville Sounds pitching staff to get two wins in the Pacific Coast League Championship Series in 1995.
  • Jae Kuk Ryu struck out 20 batters over seven innings in his final high school start in 2001.
  • Chad Orvella was primarily a shortstop through high school and college. He pitched less than 40 innings total in high school and college.
  • Finally, Joe Maddon actually played quarterback in college. In 1972 at Lafyette College, he completed his only season on the football team by completing 14 of 17 passes for four wins in a win over Lehigh.
So there's the fun stuff. Now for the other notes from Raysland:
  • I've heard pretty much every opinion on the Elijah Dukes situation, except this one: In the St. Pete Times article on May 23rd that blew this story open, Dukes allegedly told his estranged wife since he plays baseball, "no one can f--k with me". Dukes is a little right and a little wrong with this statement. He's right because atheltes often get preferential treatment when it comes to matters of the law. He's wrong about nobody f--king with him, because there is one person who can ruin him. That person is named Elijah Dukes. If what has been alleged is true, it appears Elijah Dukes is indeed "f--king with" Elijah Dukes and his big league career.
  • No woman deserves what Dukes is alleged of doing. And no woman in her right mind should be involved with a man who has a) done this before, b) apparently didn't improve his behavior after counselling, and c) who apparently married her to avoid paying child support.
  • If you read Marc Topkin's Rays notes on May 20th, you may have noticed the brief blurb about the Rays basically being the next suitor for San Antonio's baseball dreams. I never really considered any Rays moving rumors to be true, and count this one in that list as well. The column Topkin was referring to was written by San Antonio Express-News writer David King on May 13th, and appears to be a reaction to Stuart Sternberg's comments about the Trop having a five-year shelf life. King tries to put two and two together (Sternberg's comments + San Antonio's hope for MLB) but I don't see "four" as an answer. To King's credit, he went on to say that if any team expresses interest in moving to San Antonio, they have to be far more serious than the Marlins were last year.
  • If there's anything Jason Giambi is guilty of, it may very well be being too honest and open. That's not necessarily a bad thing, although he is not winning any fans from Frank Robinson to George Steinbrenner.
  • Speaking of "the boss", Steinbrenner said in a recent interview that G.M. Brian Cashman is "on a big hook" for the Yankees' current problems. Steinbrenner continues, "He wanted sole authority. He got it. Now he's got to deliver." Joe Torre's job is safe in Steinbrenner's eyes, so the New York media and fans can now back off the "Fire Torre" mantra.
  • The drunk driving death of Josh Hancock was sad and disturbing. The lawsuits by Hancock's dad against the bar the younger Hancock was drinking at, the tow truck driver he plowed into (and the company), and the driver of the car the tow truck was assisting is sad, disturbing, and pathetic. Josh Hancock was a consenting adult, who apparently had an issue with drinking too much on occasion before taking a seat behind the wheel. The fact he had a 0.157 BAC and was talking on a cell phone when the wreck happened points the finger at Josh Hancock. The elder Hancock needs to realize his son made a series of horrible mistakes that ultimately ended in his death. Trying to correct that mistake with the mistake of suing everyone driving on I-64 that night does not make the situation any better.
  • Finally, one of the Tampa Bay media greats recently announced his "retirement". Bob Hite will soon step down from WFLA-TV's 11 o'clock newscast, and will eventually do special reports until finally completely hanging it up. Bob is still one of the best of the business, and he's still too good for what the broadcasting industry has become. I wish him the best of luck in whatever he does in the future.