What started out as a rough night at the office for Tropicana Field ball boy R.J. Boggs, was quickly turned around by one outstanding catch that had Rays players and fans alike giving him a standing ovation.
Of course we have to start with the lows before we can reach the high. In the fifth inning of the Tampa Bay Rays 5-2 win on Tuesday, Boggs, who was assigned the task of protecting the home team's bullpen, was unable to knock down a hot smash on the ground that caromed off the side wall, skipped past his glove and then kicked in the air, striking right-hander Brandon Gomes directly in the chest and then chin. It also ended up also taking a bite out of Cesar Ramos' forearm and Fernando Rodney's leg as they sat helplessly on the bench.
No official injuries were reported, though Boggs' pride may have been slightly bruised as Rodney stared him down and then playfully tossed the ball back in his direction.
Rough start, but there was a chance for redemption just one inning later when another foul ball made its way towards Tampa's bullpen. This one didn't have nearly the steam on it and seemed to be taking very convenient hops off the Trop's turf, but the Rays bullpen scattered just in case and then watched as Boggs once again struggled to corral the baseball.
At this point the Rays bullpen had to be silently praying that another ball wouldn't be hit in their direction the rest of the game, and especially not a sinking line drive. So naturally, just three pitches later, a sinking line drive was ticketed for their territory. With Rays diving and scattering in every which direction, Boggs rose to the occasion this time, snatching the ball out of the air calmly and effortlessly to save the day and finally earn the respect, trust and admiration of those surrounding him.
A well deserved standing ovation followed, which had to be a cool moment for Boggs. He also made a cameo on the Rays TV broadcast to talk about his experience. But the coolest part, honestly, has to be the fun interaction with the players and feeling like a small part of the team. They definitely teased and taunted him like they would treat one of their own under those circumstances, and it's that type of interaction that always has and always will set baseball apart.
Big BLS H/N: Deadspin