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An Ode to Tom Foley

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Today, Tom Foley starts his 21st year with the club.

Thomas Michael Foley played his last major league game on July 13th, 1995 in front of almost 17,000 people as the Montreal Expos took on the Philadelphia Phillies at Olympic Stadium. Foley had spent the entire game on the bench, until the bottom of the ninth. There was just one out and Darrin Fletcher had just battled for seven pitches and singled on a bloop to left. The pitcher was due up, but Felipe Alou called upon his 35 year old utility man to try and come through. Foley took the first pitch he seen for a called strike. The next pitch however, Foley took a mighty cut...that resulted in a sharp ground ball to short and ended up being a double play, ending the game and, subsequently his playing career.

A few days later, Foley was designated for assignment and eventually released on July 26th. He would retire soon later as a player, but on January 30th, 1996, a new chapter began in Tom Foley's life as the new expansion team, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays hired him to manage the Butte Copper Kings in the Pioneer League, which featured two future major leaguers, Trevor Enders and Mickey Calloway.

The Copper Kings played a short season, so Foley had some additional time to also serve as a minor league field coordinator. Foley only managed in Butte for the 1996 season, however he kept the coordinator position for the next three years and then was promoted to Director of Minor League Operations before the 2000 season. Foley would hold that position until 2002, when Foley would make the jump to the majors and served the Rays as the Third Base coach.

Tom Foley would then become a staple at the hot corner, because as the years have passed and the team underwent a total transformation, turning into perennial contenders, Foley was there manning the hot corner. Foley served at that post from 2002 to 2014, and then was promoted to the team's Bench Coach position to mentor the rookie manager, Kevin Cash.

During his full 20 years of service to the club, Foley has witnessed many of the Rays stars rise through the ranks and he's been a part of so many memorable moments with the club. Watching as the players he monitored through the minors, become all-stars and award winners, then witnessed everything come together as the Rays advanced to the world series in 2008.

Foley also provided a touching tribute to Don Zimmer during the 2014 season as he dawned Zimmer's jersey during the legend's final days. Foley would be the last to wear that uniform number for the club, as the jersey would be retired shortly after Zimmer's death.

It's hard to imagine a Rays player rounding third and heading home without Foley frantically waving him onward, but Foley has moved on to a new, more important role and has so far filled it fantastically and hopefully will do so for years to come.