Feb 1, 2012

Farewell, Great Pumpkin!

by Aaron Giddens

The Great Pumpkin
Courtesy: SBNation
Dan Johnson. "Ray for life" as Brian Anderson put it. He has two of the biggest home runs in Tampa Bay Rays history. But the news of the day is Dan Johnson heading north to the south side of Chicago for the 2012 season. Today, the Great Pumpkin signed a minor league deal with the Chicago White Sox. With that signing on the dotted line, Dan Johnson's time in Tampa Bay is done.

Even though his time is over, let us not forget what he meant to the team with those two home runs. First, here's the home runs, one from 2008 and the other from 2011:


Those two home runs were clutch and instrumental in the Rays making the playoffs in their respective seasons. But how do we honor Dan's home runs? Where here's my idea.

What needs to be done is renaming the right field foul pole "Pumpkin's pole" as Sarah mentioned here. It should be renamed this during Opening Day ceremonies. Preferably with Dan in attendance. To go with the pole renaming, the seat where the ball landed should be replaced with an Orange seat. Yes, I know it landed giving a guy a cup check, but the seat right behind it would do for this honor.

Why is Dan so deserving of this honor? Because without the 2008 home run, many say the Rays momentum and magical run would have ended there. Dan Johnson's home run off Papelbon was magic, nothing less. It helped give the team life, momentum and magic to win their American League championship.

Without the 2011 home run, Evan Longoria's home run wouldn't have happened, if Dan struck out there, the season would have been over. Instead, Dan hit the ball around "Pumpkin's pole" and sent the game to extra's where ultimately Evan Longoria's home run won the American League Wild Card for the Rays.

These two home runs are more than just solo shots, they are part of Rays lore. They are apart of our history. These home runs helped power the team to their destiny for that season: the playoffs.

Without these home runs, I doubt many of us would have fallen in love with the Rays never say die attitude the way we have. These home runs are to be cherished, and should be immortalized the same way the longest home run at Fenway is: a special color seat.

Dan Johnson's time with the Rays is up, but let's not forget what he did for us. Let's cherish it, and remember it.

Thanks, Dan, and good luck!

Now go read the counter argument. Or if you read both, go vote in the poll.


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