After posting our first Real Stories from Rays Fans last week, we received quite a few touching stories concerning this past season. We simply couldn't help but pass along this reaction from Game 162. Many thanks to the fan for sharing with us, as reading this simply brought the memories rushing back for me.
I remember when Evan came to the plate in the eighth inning, Joey [his son] and I looked at each other and had the very same thought - could this really happen and as soon as our eyes refocused on the game it did happen. Then we discussed how we probably just would end up just that short because usually when a rally like that ends, it does not come back the next inning. We both had accepted in our hearts that it was a "good old college try" but not quite enough. And then our thoughts were reinforced when the first two batters made quick outs in the ninth.
Then we saw Dan Johnson coming out of the dugout and once again we looked at each other and said there is no way this can happen. After two strikes, we knew our season was over and we had been correct in our belief that we were going to fall just short. History now tells us we were wrong in our assumptions that miracles do happen. Time the ball left Johnsons bat, we all knew it was gone and I personally began yelling uncontrollably in a word I do not know how to spell or language that I do not know. In fact I do not think it was a word just some sort of incantation. Fives to ten minutes after I regained my composure I knew, and I am sure Joey knew (take your pick which one, probably both) that we were going to eventually win the game.
Since both of my "kids" are out of town, (they don't like me calling them that, but they will always be), my son in Seattle, Washington and my daughter in Bozeman, Montana, I could not share the game with them like the Joey's could, but we did the next best thing. Brian and I started texting each other from the beginning of the game with various comments. He would give me updates on what was going on in Baltimore with theBoston game, e.g., score , how many base runner were on, who was at bat etc. About the 4th or 5th inning (9:51 PM to be exact), I got a text from Lisa consoling me on the present score of the game. It follows:
R u at the Game 9:51pm
:( Not looking good
We are laying an egg, we have been real hot but not tonight so much
We just have to hope Baltimore beats Boston and we playoff tomorrow
Not looking like that is going to happen
That is our only hope at this point
Go Rays Huh! Hope you didn't leave 11:42pm
Holy crap 12:06 am
Did little Joey miss it
He was here
The most incredible comeback in the history of MLB!!!!!!!!!!!
Drive Safe. I know it's late 12:16am
We will float home
Is Mom there too?
Yep she has gone crazy!!!
I'll pick up Brian and my texts at 10:04pm
Shields is warming up?????
Just to get his 250 innings
LOL. I suppose
What else is left
6 in the 8th and 2 in the 9th
Got the first part J 10:27pm
2 runs in the 9th and go home
That's the plan
I can't breathe
Excuse my French... But Holy **** (That's for little Joey if he sees this)
I couldn't agree more
O's have 2 on with 1 out 11:07pm
I'm to old or this
Who is pitching?
Aceves. He's hit two batters.
Huge overrule on a call in Baltimore. Ellsbury WAS safe but called out. For the first time that I can remember, the home plate umpire overruled and put him on first.
O's tied it 12:01 am
Saw on our scoreboard
I wish you guys could have been here to experience what is going on now!!
Thursday AM at breakfast:
The radio is on and people are just giddy over telling their own experience, the ones that left and the ones that stayed.
My confession is this, I told my wife, Sue in the bottom of the 7th inning, "it is more likely that I will be hit by a moon-rock tonight than for us to come back from 7 runs down.
Joey was a little reluctant to acknowledge that this could be one of the greatest nights on Joey's life. Saying that is not to denigrate all of the meaningful nights in our lives such as weddings, child birth etc. It may very well be the most memorable event of your life due to the following reasons. Yes it is just a game. However, when you are experiencing a game you love that has all of the beauty and majesty of baseball. The game must be played to its conclusion. You cannot run the clock out. You cannot run wasted plays to take up time. You must get at least 27 outs in a regulation game and that game proved that anything can happen.
When we were in a situation which seemed hopeless and our season was to come to a sudden end. We all experienced a supreme low for what we had all hoped for. We were watching inning after inning of batters flailing away with no success. A total flashback to so many games this year, I whispered to Sue that this very well could be "poetic justice" for a year filled with a hitting vacuum on this team. With this as the most likely outcome, it is quite understandable that everyone present was in a state of extreme disappointment with what might have been. Once we loaded the bases in the8th, it was almost as if we were seeing a loved one coming back to life and we could once again have them in our life. Then when Longoria hit the 3 run homer it was as if Lazarus had risen from the dead. Then we heard that Baltimore had come back to tie Boston and now we could hope for this loved one to continue to live in our midst. Once our rally had come up a run short it was still possible for us to lose and our most likely hope was that we would depend on Baltimore so that we could play another today. As most folks do on their death bed, they have an apparent recovery, which in most cases, is simply a "last hurrah". It was very easy to conceive that we had had our last hurrah and now we had to accept the inevitable. I and most everyone in the Trop and on TV were beginning our grieving process for the loss of our beloved Rays and their magical run.
Two quick outs and we're trying to get the flowers ordered from the florist for the wake and funeral. We were ready to run for the isles to get to the services. Alas, a beam of hope appeared from the dugout and only to those Rays fans who have been around for a while knew his significance, Big Dan Johnson - A possible savior to our states of acceptance of the inevitable. Strike one and each pitch thereafter brought us closer and closer to the final moment. We were now down to our last strike and any hope of the future. Out of nowhere or should I say "somewhere" the ball began it ascent in the form of a laser beam and crossed over into the land of milk and honey for us all. The impossible had happened, and our loved one was given new life and was able to stay with us for a little while longer. The euphoria of the moment was more than most likely anyone present had ever experienced or even had thought possible. We had come all the way back from 7 down, and in Biblical terms we were now complete, in our journey which had rocked on the edge of the abyss of finality.
The immediate physical reactions of all, was uncontrollable physical activity and speaking in unknown tongues and other forms of irrational behavior among sophisticated adults and children. Once the final out of the inning was made and we settled back into our relationship with our loved one we knew we had them for at least another day. The stadium seemed brighter, the beverages were sweeter, the popcorn saltier and everything was good in our world. A new sense of encouragement instantly appeared once we had all come back off of our non drug induced hysteria. The anticipation now was that our loved on was gong to make a full recovery and the future was going to be sunny once more. Off in a distant land called Camden, magic was taking place. Wild Birds were pecking the literal life from some sox of red, to the point that they were no longer going to be of any use to themselves or their nation. The last throws of languish gripped the followers of the sox of red and any future they had left. Their souls were being swept away leaving them with no life. A dark night! For every dark night there is a new day. The force we all know and feel had traveled a long distance in as short as 2 minutes and taken residence in a mighty club held by Evan Almighty within the Trop. That club was held by a young man of great talent and will and he was given the power to "smite the evil empire" with one mighty blow.
The power set forth by the power in play as he swung the club, created a cosmic shift in the world which has no equal. A mighty nation was brought to its knees, and evil empire conquered and a little village was raised to heights never known before. As Evan Almighty's homerun zoomed over the Crawford wall, the final stroke had been inflicted in all present, which I will make no attempt at trying to put into words. It is done.