Maile Christmas! Rays catcher shares memories

Maile Christmas! Rays catcher shares memories

ST. PETERSBURG -- Luke Maile is one of the Rays' three catchers heading into the 2017 season, along with Wilson Ramos and Curt Casali.

The native of Edgewood, Ky., was recalled from Triple-A Durham over the All-Star break and started 35 of the team's 74 games after the break.

The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Maile played well, throwing out seven of 25 attempted basestealers, and the staff had a 3.14 ERA with Maile behind the plate, compared to 4.48 with all of the other catchers.

Recently, caught up with Maile, who shared some of his Christmas memories in the following Q&A. What was your favorite Christmas moment growing up?

Maile: Probably when I was 5 years old. I really wanted a bike. And I came downstairs, probably around 5:30 in the morning, and sure enough, Santa left me a bike. It was a little mountain bike for kids. It was red and looked so new and shiny. I was just so excited. It was probably about 15 degrees outside that day, and I just rode it all over the place. I couldn't get enough of it. Ironically, I rarely rode a bike after I was 10 years old. But at the time, that was huge for me, because I had a bunch of friends who lived in different neighborhoods and I wanted to go and hang out with them. That made it a lot easier. You grew up in Kentucky, so did you usually experience a white Christmas?

Maile: I'd say maybe a third of the time, it was a white Christmas. And then sometimes we'd get a weird one where it was in the 60s. It's like anywhere else in the country, it kind of ebbs and flows. But we had a couple that were really a standard Christmas.

Luke Maile said his family's Christmas was always relaxed, since everyone lived so close.Courtesy of Luke Maile Who did you celebrate with in your immediate family growing up?

Maile: Myself, my parents and then my four younger siblings. I have a fairly big extended family, and everybody lives maybe five minutes or so from where we grew up, so they were over quite often. But certainly around the holidays -- both my dad's and my mom's side. We'd watch football. My dad and my uncles would play cards. It was always a fun time. Any big Christmas traditions?

Maile: My family, not really. The one thing that I always liked about growing up in my household is we didn't really take Christmas too seriously in terms of stressing about presents for people. Nobody really felt under the gun, ever. It was really relaxed -- just more of a celebration. Since we all lived near each other, like I said, and saw each other a lot, I think that kind of took some of the pressure off. We just kind of enjoyed everybody being off school and everybody being off work. Any Christmas movies or songs that you particularly like?

Maile: "Christmas Vacation." I probably saw that movie when I was a little too young, but my dad always got a kick out of Chevy Chase. My dad and my uncles loved it and I'd always pretend like I understood all of the humor involved. I wouldn't say we watched that religiously every year, but it definitely was something that when it was on TV, everybody watched. As far as Christmas food, any favorites?

Maile: There was a farm that sold turkeys. It's been around forever and they just have the greatest turkeys on earth. They raise them there. Everybody brought over a dish. My mom made unbelievable sides. My dad and my grandma were always taking part stuffing the turkey. Everybody put on a few pounds at Christmas. You now live in Palm Harbor, Fla., so where do you plan on celebrating this year?

Maile: My family is coming down this year. I think they're tired of the cold and they're a little jealous about the weather my wife and I are experiencing right now. So everybody's going to Clearwater Beach. We've got a little condo rented out for them and we'll be spending Christmas Eve, all the way through New Year's Day, together. My house is only a short drive away from that.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.