PRESS RELEASE – While the flowers bloom and the temperature rises, in Florida, March also means the start of the baseball season. Out on fields across the Sunshine State, under the bright sun, collections of players work to hone their skills and become teams. Meanwhile, fans come down from the north to avoid the last winter snow watch the baseball season emerge.
One of those fans, who made the trip south was Buster. The biggest BlueClaws fan of them all, and one of the biggest baseball fans, makes the annual trip down to Clearwater to watch the Phillies and meet some soon-to-be BlueClaws.
This Spring Training morning commenced in a manner no different than most on Buster’s trip – with a pork roll, egg and cheese sandwich and a trip to the beach. Buster brought his wiffle ball bat like always, and after a brief swim, Buster rounded up a group of new friends to play.
Buster always wanted to be a centerfielder – some of his favorite BlueClaws were centerfielders like Michael Bourn, Anthony Gose, Jiwan James, Aaron Altherr, and Carlos Tocci – so he lined up in centerfield. The batter hit a long fly ball – a gust of wind sent it over Buster’s head. He chased it a long way back, looked up, reached up and…
Buster was lying on the ground. He looked up and realized he crashed into a large, green, lifeguard. It really hurt (it might have been that shell). The lifeguard, it turned out, was a turtle. Buster, who was on the ground, heard the whistle, and knew he was in trouble.
“You have to be more careful,” said the lifeguard. “Remember – safety is for everybody!”
Buster, of course, knew the turtle was right. He introduced himself – “Hi, I’m Buster.”
“Be careful, Buster. But nice to meet you. I’m RipTide,” he said. “I’m a big Phillies fan, so I’m familiar with your work.”
“That’s certainly good to hear, always happy to meet a fan,” exclaimed an obviously excited Buster.
The next day, after his pork roll, egg, and cheese sandwich, and morning swim, Buster was back out there playing wiffle ball again. He tracked down a long fly ball, and who did he see getting in his morning run? Sure enough, it was RipTide.
Buster waved him over and they started talking. They had a few things in common. RipTide, a Clearwater native, loved the Phillies, like Buster. Of course, they both loved the beach, baseball, and a ballpark frank.
The two became fast friends, going to breakfast, the beach, and the ballpark for Phillies Spring Training Games. RipTide, as it turned out, had been a lifeguard on the beaches of Florida for many years, but was growing tired of the long, hot summers. Once Spring Training ended, so did the spring in RipTide’s step.
“Why don’t you come north with me?” asked Buster. “The weather is great. The ballpark is great. And I heard there’s an opening with the BlueClaws Beach Patrol. I’ll even introduce you to the Phillie Phanatic.”
RipTide was intrigued. He had always wanted to meet the Phillie Phanatic. But would the offer be good enough to get him up north?
RipTide had to think about it. Certainly it was an exciting new opportunity. He had heard the wonderful stories of the people, places, and things to do in New Jersey.
One thing was for certain, RipTide loved helping people. He had made a life out of doing just that as not just a lifeguard, but the top lifeguard on the beaches of Clearwater. He spoke at schools about the importance of safety, both on the beach and in the community. It was a true passion of his.
But here was a chance to help more people. He’d be in charge of the BlueClaws Beach Patrol – what an opportunity – plus Buster promised him the chance to help educate kids through the BlueClaws and through their community initiatives.
His mind was made up. He was heading to New Jersey!
You’ll be able to meet RipTide at all future BlueClaws games.
# # #
Thanks to John Cerone for the heads up.