The Tampa Bay Rays have been in existence for over 20 years now and have featured some of the great defenders of the game over that time.
Those defenders of course have a tendency to make some awe inspiring plays as well as being in the right place to make some of the most significant putouts in franchise history. I have gathered a couple of what I feel are the most incredible or significant plays in franchise history. Feel free to disagree with my choices or add in your own below in the comments.
Evan Longoria’s catch sends the Rays to the postseason
Not so much a catch of extremely low probability, but still one of the most important plays in the history of the Rays.
In September, 2008 with the Rays on the verge of clinching their first ever postseason appearance in franchise history, of course the ball would find its way to Evan Longoria. Trevor Miller jammed Joe Mauer, causing him to pop a ball up to the left side of the playing field.
Evan Longoria gave chase, it was his play, there was no one else around. He tracked the ball perfectly and made sure to use both hands to seal the ball in his glove and then pounded the side wall in excitement as the Tampa Bay Rays had secured their ticket to the playoffs for the first time in team history.
Superman wears Sam Fuld pajamas to bed
April 2011 was a tumultuous time for the Tampa Bay Rays.
There was a lot of uncertainty surrounding the team as the season opened after they went through an exodus of their core members in the offseason, but had added the big names of Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon to help their roster.
Of course, everyone knows the story of the start of that season. The Rays go 0-6, Manny Ramirez is suspended and retires, and then Evan Longoria gets injured. Things were bleak.
Then along came Sam Fuld, who sprouted wings and proceeded to carry the Rays on his back for the first half of the season with his extremely hard nosed style of play. He staked his claim to Superman’s throne when he made an awe inspiring, game saving catch during an outing in Chicago against the White Sox when Juan Pierre, in a tie game, laced a flyball deep to the right field corner.
Sam Fuld took off and ran at full speed towards the corner and at the last moment, he flew through the air and fully outstretched, came down with an incredible catch that amazed.
Carl Crawford is the All-Star game MVP
In terms of awe inspiring and visual spectacle, this is probably near the bottom of the greatest catches made by a Rays player, let alone just Carl Crawford. CC provided Rays fans with their first true star as he delighted with incredible speed, making plays that were seemingly impossible with regularity.
However, toward the twilight of his Rays career, Crawford was selected to his third All-Star game in 2009 and served as a late inning replacement.
In the bottom of the 8th inning with the game tied, Brad Hawpe (who has his own special place in Rays history) lifted a flyball deep to left field. Crawford ranged back and carefully stepped his way on the warning track as he inched closer and closer to the wall, finally the ball came down and landed in his mitt just at the top of the wall as he took a go-ahead home run away from Hawpe.
The American League would take the lead soon after and the eventual victory. Carl Crawford would be named the All-Star Game MVP for his game saving catch.
Kevin Kiermaier becomes the Outlaw
Kiermaier has long been regarded as one of the best defenders in the game and, night in and night out, he consistently showcases just how good he is.
However, back before he was known everywhere as ‘The Outlaw,’ Kiermaier let it be known that any ball hit towards his general direction was in danger of being caught.
On a muggy August 2015 night in Baltimore, Manny Machado took a Chris Archer slider and lofted it deep to center field. Kevin Kiermaier immediately turned his back to the playing field and took off for the wall. He reached the track and started tracking the ball to time his leap.
Kiermaier left the ground and soared through the air, colliding with the wall and with his fully outstretched glove, reeled in Machado’s would-be home run for the first out of the inning.
It was an amazing play by an amazing defender and it served to show notice to the baseball world that Kevin Kiermaier was...The Outlaw.
What is the most memorable catch in franchise history?
This poll is closed
Evan Longoria’s putout to clinch the Rays first playoff series
Sam Fuld’s game saving, superman style catch
Carl Crawford’s home run robbery to become the ASG MVP
Kevin Kiermaier’s fully outstretched home run robbery
Other - leave in comments below
Thanks to our friends over at Royals Review for inspiring this article.