Typically, a sports star on his way out of town to play for another team will take out a full-page ad in the local newspaper. It has become the clichéd way for any athlete to thank the fans he's leaving behind. In fact, former Ray and current Cubbie Carlos Pena just did that on Monday.
But it's not often fans of those players do something along those lines. In fact, I can't think of ever hearing about fans joining together to buy ad space. Until now.
Steve Slowinski and his cohorts at DRaysBay coordinated a giant effort to thank former Rays outfielder Carl Crawford for his time here in Tampa Bay. According to Slowinski, the project was to show appreciation for Crawford's efforts on the field and in the community, as well as "showing the world that Tampa Bay fans do exist and have class and dignity."
The gesture did not go unnoticed.
NESN reconized the effort of DRaysBay. The Boston Globe thought it was pretty cool, too, and other Red Sox fans have called it 'classy.' Big League Stew thought it was a bit self-aggrandizing, but is ok with that, too.
Along with an image of Crawford making that spectacular catch in the 2009 All Star Game, it reads:
The Tampa Bay Rays franchise has undergone a lot of change in the past nine years: new name, new uniforms, new managers, and new ownership. The one constant in all of that change has been Carl Crawford.
Our franchise leader in hits, batting average, stolen bases, doubles, triples, runs scored, breath-taking defensive plays, and more, Crawford has become one of Tampa Bay's most beloved sports figures. It's rare for any player to spend nine years of their career in one city, let alone the best left fielder in all of baseball.
The Rays are still strong and will stay competitive, but we should consider ourselves lucky to have seen Crawford play. Good luck in the rest of your career, Carl -- you’ve earned it.
Thanks for everything,
The Tampa Bay Community
It truly is a class act by the pack at DRaysBay, and we're happy to call them our friends. You can check out the Thank You Carl Crawford ad for yourself, and leave a message for Crawford on the DRB website.
Then, after you wish him well, don't forget that Crawford signed a contract with the hated Boston Red Sox. From that point forward, he became a mortal enemy of Rays fans.