My Tribute to the Rays – Shared by Dan Draper

Dan Draper is a die-hard Rays fan from "The Land Down Under" in Brisbane, Australia.

It’s just before 3:10am in Brisbane, Australia. It’s a bit cold outside, houses sit with their lights off and cars on the road are few and far in between. I connect my laptop to the HDMI cable running from my television to my laptop and fire up mlb.tv for what I know will be a great few hours to come. 

Thousands of miles away, fans in St. Petersburg, Florida have taken their seats and settled into the often talked about, yet never truly complimented atmosphere of Tropicana Field. They feel at home and so do I.

Moments later, Tyler Glasnow steps up to the mound, awaiting the moment where he can fire his first pitch to the waiting opponent, who is no doubt intimidated by this long-haired ace and the reputation that precedes him.

The pitch is thrown, it’s a fastball strike…because of course it is. It’s Tyler freakin’ Glasnow.  

I take a deep breath and smile to myself, knowing that for the next nine innings of baseball, nothing else matters. The worries of my life are taken away with every swing, catch and pitch. It is in every way the ultimate distraction. It’s beautiful, it’s baseball.

You see, I suffer from major depression and anxiety. My mental health affects me every day and is often crippling. I find it hard to do everyday tasks and it has even begun to affect my social life. It is very real and can be extremely painful. 

I find it difficult to distract myself from my own negative thoughts and feelings. This has led me to dark places, stints in mental health facilities and often feeling utterly alone. But, for a few hours every day, I get taken away from that dark place by the light that is Tampa Bay Rays Baseball.

Now, you may be thinking that is ridiculous. It’s just a child’s game played by adults and in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter. 

Sure, I see your point. 

But have you heard the sound of a Randy Arozarena home run? Have you watched Kevin Kiermaier make an outrageous catch in the outfield? Have you jumped, yelled and cheered as Brett Phillips celebrated a walk-off hit?

Have you seen Ji-Man Choi smile?

If you have witnessed any of those things, you may know what I’m talking about.

Baseball is fun. Tampa Bay Rays baseball is absolutely electric.

I cannot thank the Rays clubhouse for providing me with that much needed distraction every day of the season. 

Outside of my family, partner and friends, Rays baseball brings me the utmost amount of joy and happiness. Win or lose. Celebration or heartache. No matter what, I’m grateful for their existence.

In 2019, I enjoyed six straight days of sitting in the Trop and watching the Rays play ball. I cannot wait to be able to travel back to St. Pete to cheer them on again.

So thanks again, Rays. For everything you do to put a smile on this man’s face. I know I’m not alone in that.

Rays Up.

If you have a story about your journey as a Rays fan and would like to share, please email us at raystherooftb@gmail.com.