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Barack Obama to bask in the glow of Tampa's newest heroes

October 20, 2008 | 10:06 am

[Update below]

Fresh from emerging as the surprise star of the baseball playoffs, Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher David Price today transformed himself into a political player. Tampa Bay Rays relief pitched David Price

The traveling press with Barack Obama learned a few minutes ago that Price, along with Rays outfielder Fernando Perez, would introduce the presidential candidate at a rally in Tampa.

A handful of other players on the World Series-bound team also are slated to be hovering on the stage, including stars B.J. Upton and Carl Crawford.

In the suddenly baseball-crazed -- and politically crucial -- Tampa area, Obama's linkage with the players may count for more than his much-publicized endorsement by Colin Powell.

By the same token, the crowd count at the event could be disappointing by Obama standards -- we hear lots of folks in that part of Florida were partying late last night.

[UPDATE -- Price, who specializes in short stints on the pitcher's mound, was true to form in the political spotlight. Taking the microphone after brief remarks by Perez, he confined himself to introducing the "next president of the United States," whereupon Obama made his way into the stage where Price and the other players were congregated. After they exited, Obama, in a reference to his hometown preferences told his crowd: "I am a unity candidate. So when you see a (Chicago) White Sox fan showing love to the Rays, and the Rays showing some love back, you know we are on to something right here.”]

[UPDATE II -- As advertised, left-fielder Crawford was one of the players on stage. But Upton, the center fielder, did not make it.]

-- Don Frederick

Photo credit: Getty Images