Rays' 2014 Fan Fest a big hit with fans at the Trop - WNCN: News, Weather

Rays' 2014 Fan Fest a big hit with fans at the Trop

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Fans began lining up at the Trop early Saturday morning. Fans began lining up at the Trop early Saturday morning.
Young fans took part in interactive drills such as base running. Young fans took part in interactive drills such as base running.
Some young baseball hopefuls tested their arms at the speed pitch booth. Some young baseball hopefuls tested their arms at the speed pitch booth.
A Rays player autographs a hat for a young fan. A Rays player autographs a hat for a young fan.
Players, coaches and other personnel with the 2014 Tampa Bay Rays greeted fans Saturday at Tropicana Field for the annual ‘Fan Fest.’

The event kicked off just after 11 a.m. and featured a variety of family friendly activities. Admission and parking were free. Saturday’s fun included ‘Reading with the Rays,’ the Sagicor Coaches Clinic, the All Children’s Hospital Kids’ interactive Zone, photo opportunities with team Mascot Raymond/DJ Kitty as well as baseball activities with Rays players and coaches.

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A first for this year’s ‘Fan Fast’ was a streamlined autograph process that allowed fans the opportunity to receive autographs from specific players for a cost. That part of the 2014 Rays Fan Fest experience sold out quickly and part of the proceeds collected will benefit the ALS Association Florida Chapter and the Rays Baseball foundation.

More than 25 former Major League Baseball players were also on hand and they signed autographs at no charge throughout the event which lasted approximately five hours.

Officials with the team’s ticket sales department were also available to assist fans with the purchase of season tickets, group tickets, suite rentals and flex pack ticket specials.

Rays’ Manager Joe Maddon held a special Thanksmas event at the Trop for Fan Fest on Saturday as well. A handful of those who attended the event enjoyed hors d'oeuvres served with Maddon’s annual holiday Thanksmas dinner served at eight Bay area homeless shelters.

The Rays’ Charity Yard Sale also returned for a fourth year at Fan Fest, giving fans the chance to purchase unique memorabilia for a good cause.

Between the Rays Charity Yard Sale, Thanksmas and autograph sales at the 2013 Rays Fan Fest, $100,000 was raised to benefit local Salvation Army chapters, the ALS Association Florida Chapter and the Rays Baseball Foundation.

The Rays play their first Spring Training game when they play host to American League East rivals Baltimore in Port Charlotte. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m.

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