Raymond kicks off 2012 Dugout Club

ST. PETERSBURG, FL— Rays pitcher David Price and outfielders B.J. Upton and Desmond Jennings will visit a total of seven recreation centers in South St. Petersburg as part of the Rays Dugout Club, July 17 and 18.

Created in 2010, the Rays Dugout Club has become the signature program of the Rays South St. Petersburg Initiative, an idea conceived by Rays employees who are residents of that community, partly in response to violence surrounding Paris Whitehead, an eight-year-old South St. Petersburg girl killed by gunfire in April 2009.

During the month of June, Rays mascot Raymond will visit the centers to kick off the program and educate campers about the 2012 Dugout Club message: Stay Healthy, Stay Positive, Stay Involved, Stay Smart. 

In July, the players will visit their centers to reinforce this year’s program laid out by Raymond, hand out Dugout Club T-shirts featuring each player’s club name and present each recreation center with an “angel fund” to be used to meet the needs of the children and families served by each recreation center.

Upton and Price will once again adopt two recreation centers in South St. Petersburg.  The newest Rays Dugout Club host, Jennings, will adopt three centers for the summer.  Jennings will sponsor “Jennings’ Juniors” at Lake Vista Recreation Center, Frank Pierce Recreation Center and Sanderlin Neighborhood Family Center.  Price will sponsor “Price’s Pals” at Campbell Park Recreation Center and Gladden Park Recreation Center.  Upton will sponsor “B.J.’s Bunch” at Childs Park Recreation Center and Wildwood Recreation Center.

Jennings, Price and Upton will host the children from the Dugout Club on July 19 during the Rays-Indians game at Tropicana Field and invite them out for an activity day while the team is away.

The three will return to the recreation centers later in the summer to motivate the children for the start of school.  They will present each child with a Dugout Club-themed folder with the final message of this summer’s program, “Stay smart.”

The Dugout Club is supported by the Rays Baseball Foundation and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which actively promote the benefits of eating a healthy diet to Tampa Bay area youth.  Kids and teens 18 and under can find a free nutritious breakfast, lunch and snack at supervised and safe locations throughout the summer through the Florida Department of Agriculture’s Summer Break Spot program.  Find a Summer Break Spot site near you by visiting www.summerfoodflorida.org or dial 2-1-1.