ST. PETERSBURG -- Mike Alstott, a Tampa Bay football icon, will throw out the first pitch at the Rays' home opener against the Mariners on April 8 at Tropicana Field.
Alstott retired from the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Jan. 24 after spending his entire 12-year career with the team for which he was a six-time Pro Bowl selection at fullback.
Known as the "A Train," Alstott endeared himself to fans with his bruising blue-collar running style that often saw him run over defenders rather than around them. He scored a team-record 71 touchdowns and rushed for more than 5,000 yards during his career, and in 2003, he played an integral role on the Bucs team that claimed victory in Super Bowl XXXVII.
"Mike's accomplishments transcend the excellence he has displayed on the football field," said Rays team president Matt Silverman. "He is a great role model, and his charitable contributions have made Tampa Bay a better place to live. The Rays are proud to honor Mike for his career, his character and his ongoing contributions to the Tampa Bay community. "
Alstott resides in St. Petersburg, and, as a Rays season-ticket holder, has been a fixture at Rays games over the years.
Away from the football field, Alstott has a long history of community involvement. Recently he established the Mike Alstott Family Foundation, which is dedicated to assisting needy families and children in the Tampa Bay area.
Alstott follows an impressive list of personalities to throw out Opening Day pitches for the Rays.
Prior to the Rays' inaugural game against the Tigers on March 31, 1998, they called upon a group of Hall of Famers to get the season started by enlisting the services of Ted Williams, Stan Musial, Al Lopez and Monte Irvin to throw out first pitches in front of a capacity crowd of 45,369.
Succeeding years have brought Larry Doby (1999), Wade Boggs (2000), St. Petersburg mayor David J. Fischer (2001), U.S. Army Gen. Tommy Franks (2002), Bucs coach Jon Gruden and general manager Rich McKay (2004), boxer Winky Wright (2004), racing legend Michael Andretti (2005), Al Lopez Jr., Al Lopez III, and Al Lopez IV (2006), plus Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (2007).
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.