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Higgins, Azinger get first-pitch duties

Posted Sep 29, 2008 by Marc Lancaster

Updated Sep 29, 2008 at 12:38 PM

The ceremonial first pitch before Game 1 of the ALDS at Tropicana Field will be delivered by team senior vice president John Higgins, the first employee hired by the Rays in 1995.

The first pitch before Game 2 will go to Paul Azinger, captain of the victorious U.S. Ryder Cup team and a Bradenton resident.

Higgins will be joined on the field by many of the other 51 original employees still with the Rays’ organization.

“The hard work and dedication by our entire organization have enabled us to reach this extraordinary moment.  The ceremonial first pitch for our first-ever postseason game is a fitting tribute to their contributions,” Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg said in a press release issued by the team.

Higgins, the team’s general counsel, came aboard three years before Tampa Bay’s inaugural game.

“As a lifelong resident of this community, I am honored to represent not only the Rays employees who have played such an important part in attaining this success but also the fans who have remained steadfast in their support over the past eleven years,” he said in the release.

Azinger, who led the U.S. team to victory over Europe in Louisville last week, knows his way around the Trop.

“This is very special for me,” Azinger said. “I’ve been a Rays fan since the inception of the franchise and attend games at Tropicana Field as often as I can. This year’s Rays club shows what a team with talent, character and faith can do.”

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