Rays to 'Turn Back the Clock'

Rays to 'Turn Back the Clock'

ST. PETERSBURG -- Since he last walked off the field as a professional player in 1986, George Foster has traveled the world in order to impart his expertise on the younger athletes of today. He stresses fundamentals, practice and all the minutiae involved in the molding of a complete player, something he said most definitely does not happen overnight.

"There's a certain process involved," Foster said. "Sometimes you try to take shortcuts, but it'll always catch up to you sooner or later."

It is fitting, then, that the five-time All-Star, 1977 National League MVP and member of Cincinnati's back-to-back World Series champion "Big Red Machine" will be on hand to celebrate Turn Back the Clock Night with the Rays, a youthful team familiar with the building process.

Foster, who hit 348 homers over an 18-year career in the Majors, will be on hand to sign autographs at Tropicana Field for the event, which takes place Saturday as Tampa Bay faces the Braves in a 7:15 p.m. game. Both teams will wear throwback jerseys from the 1970s: the Rays will don replica uniforms from the Tampa Tarpons, and Atlanta will wear its uniforms from the era. All jerseys will be auctioned online at www.devilrays.com after the game, with part of the sales benefiting the Moffitt Cancer Center.

Foster, who is teaching a baseball clinic in Alaska in the days leading up to Saturday, said he'll welcome the Florida warmth and sunshine as well as the opportunity to take a closer look at the Rays players.

"It seemed like they were the Yankees' nemesis for a while there, didn't it?" he chuckled. "They're starting to make news now and it's nice to see. It's surprising but yet not, because when I was briefly with their farm system, I saw players who definitely had the talent.

"They've got good players now, and they're developing that winning attitude."

Joining Foster for Turn Back the Clock Night on Saturday are famed pitcher Tommy John and three-time All-Star slugger Dave Kingman.

In 1974, John underwent a then-experimental ligament reconstruction surgery on his elbow to lengthen the lefty's pitching career. He went on to win 164 games after the surgery -- 288 total -- during a Major League-record 26 seasons on the mound for the Indians, White Sox, Dodgers, Yankees, Angels and Athletics. Current Rays center fielder Rocco Baldelli underwent the same surgical procedure, now widely known as Tommy John surgery.

Kingman ranks 33rd on the all-time home runs list with 442. Playing for the Giants, Mets, Padres, Angels, Yankees, Cubs and A's over a 16-year Major League career, the 6-foot-6 Kingman was known not only for his number of homers -- five times he hit three in a single game -- but how hard he hit them as well. Balls that left Kingman's bat sometimes traveled 550 feet or more.

Turn Back the Clock Night in Tampa Bay will also include $5 Upper Reserve outfield tickets, a '70s costume contest, with the winner receiving airline tickets, a hotel and game tickets for two to any Rays away series, $1 hot dogs and Pepsi outside of Gate 1, and '70s-themed entertainment.

Comedian Judson Laipply, the popular Internet Dance Guy, also will perform his "Evolution of Dance" routine just before the ceremonial first pitch.

Dawn Klemish is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.