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Al Reyes: The Most Electrifying Man in Sports

For one night, anyway

New York Yankees v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images

Al Reyes is a success story. Despite not being overtly amazing in any particular year of his career, he managed to pitch in 13 seasons in the big leagues, the last two of which were spent with the Tampa Bay Rays.

His best campaign came in 2005, when he dominated out of the eventual NL Pennant winning St Louis Cardinals bullpen. Unfortunately, he tore a ligament in his right elbow on the final day of the season, taking him out of the playoffs and causing him to miss entire 2006 season.

During his rehab from Tommy John surgery, Reyes signed with the Devil Rays and once he returned to the mound, he took over the closer role. In 2008, Reyes was still a part of the Devil Rays bullpen plans, however, early on in the young season, Reyes took part in what turned out to be very electrifying birthday celebration.

While out on the town gallivanting in the early morning hours of April 11th, Reyes just wanting to spend some time with the millions (and millions) of Reyes fans, got into an altercation with a jabroni at a bar who chose to go one on one with the great one. The patron, one Eduardo Mora (like most people at the time), landed a hit against Reyes, causing him to bleed. After being punched and with police already onsite, staunch competitor that he is, Reyes was still looking to battle. Even when a police officer threatened to taser Reyes, the burly would-be brawler still refused to give up.

That’s when the taser made it’s presence known and sent Reyes to the ground in a heap.

Never one to give in, Reyes remained conscious and persevered like he had done throughout his entire professional career. He didn’t give up despite being released multiple times; he didn’t give up when his arm exploded on the last day of the season; and he didn’t give up when he was relegated to being the closer of the worst team in baseball; and he wouldn’t give up now. Reyes continued attempting to lift himself off the floor and keep up his own personal vendetta against the world.

That’s when the taser made its presence known, once again.

According to witnesses, here is how the actual night of events transpired.

  • A heavily inebriated Reyes is at the bar. Then, Reyes takes a tumble to the floor, hitting a ceramic pot on his way down.
  • Once Reyes was able to regain his footing, he accused Eduardo Mora of being the reason for his fall.
  • A war of words ensued with Mora eventually turned physical when Mora punched Reyes in the face.
  • Bouncers at the bar grabbed Mora after the blow, but a belligerent Al Reyes refused to end things there.
  • Reyes began spitting blood at anyone close enough to be in the splash zone and refused to stop.
  • A police officer threatened to taser Reyes.
  • Al Reyes was tasered.
  • Al Reyes refused to stay down
  • Al Reyes was tasered, again.

I wanted to know exactly what being tasered does to a person, so I consulted with DRB’s resident medical expert, Dr. Brett Phillips, who shared this assessment:

Basically, every muscle locks up at once, and because of that, you are unable to use your legs and arms in conjunction with each other to escape.

The body uses neurotransmitters to propagate electrical signals from the brain and spinal cord to the muscles, but if you throw the electricity in there already, you’re basically just telling everything to turn on at once

So the once celebratory night for Reyes suddenly and violently turned from revelry to revulsion as he lay in the cesspool of his own blood, saliva, spilled beer, crumbs, and whatever else makes up a barroom’s floor in the early morning hours. A battered bruised and beaten Reyes was then escorted from the bar and charged with affray (aka public fighting), then released without being booked into police custody (the charges would later be dropped).

Regardless, Al Reyes was in uniform when it came time for the Rays to play the Baltimore Orioles later that night. He had an address prepared for the media, but did not take any questions.

“I tried to have a good time on my birthday, but I guess that was the worst one.”
“I just want to apologize again to my teammates, the organization, the owner and the fans for what happened last night.”

And despite all of this, Joe Maddon still called on Reyes later that night to pitch in a tie game. Maddon called for Reyes in the 8th inning of a 5-5 contest and Reyes dutifully took the mound with a marred face that fully evidenced his escapades of less than 24 hours earlier. Reyes actually had a good night, retiring both hitters he faced and was even rewarded with a victory for his efforts (of note, this is the last game in team history before Evan Longoria made his big league debut).

“A long day. It was good to come up with a win.”
“Whatever happened last night, I just forgot about that and tried to stay positive and focus on the game. I didn’t want anything to affect the way I pitched.”

Thus, with the electricity still possibly flowing through him, Al Reyes became the most electrifying man in sports entertainment...for one night, anyway.

New York Yankees v Tampa Bay Rays
This was two days after the event. You can still see the bruise on the left side of Reyes’ face.
Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images

Reyes pitched a few more times in April, but something was clearly off as his normally strong fastball was topping out in the mid 80’s during an outing on April 15th. He was placed on the IL, but the team never publicly said if the events in the early morning hour of April 11th had anything to do with his struggles.

Reyes would be eventually waived by the Rays in August, leading to his release. He never never pitched in the majors again.