"My son had been playing outside with some of his friends, and he came into the house and asked, 'Daddy, if the Rays get into the World Series, can we go to a game? I really want to go,'" Cairo recalled.Landing two tickets just a few days before the American League champion Rays and National League champ Phillies met at Tropicana Field seemed a little daunting at first. "I tried really hard to get them and was able to do it," said Cairo, who played from 1998-2000 in St. Petersburg. "I got two tickets for Game 1." It became one of those father-son moments that would be tough to beat. "Every player wants to play in the World Series, and I haven't done that yet," Cairo said. "But I got a chance to take my little boy to a World Series game, and that's something I'll never forget. I wanted him to experience something like that. He was happy and excited. On the way home he said, 'That was really awesome.'" The Phillies won the game, 3-2, but Cairo had about as good a time a player can have while sitting in the stands watching his peers participate in the ultimate seven-game series. Cairo came close to playing in the Fall Classic a couple of times. In 2004, six years and three organizations after the then-Devil Rays selected him from the Cubs in the Expansion Draft, Cairo was playing for the Yankees, who led the Red Sox, 3-0, in the AL Championship Series. Cairo had a good series, going 7-for-25 (.280) with three doubles, but the Red Sox won four straight games to become the first team in MLB history to overcome a 3-0 deficit in a seven-game series. Two years earlier, while playing for the Cardinals, Cairo went 5-for-13 with one home run in the NLCS against the Giants, but San Francisco won the best-of-seven series. Until last Wednesday night, the Fall Classic had been a must-see TV event in the Cairo home. "This is the first World Series game either of us has watched in person," Cairo said, "and to have the team in the World Series that gave me a chance to play every day for the first time in my career made it even more special. "And I wanted my little boy to watch a team that was in last place last season have a chance to win the World Series." Cairo said there is a lesson there to be learned. "They went from no expectations to the World Series in one year, and for me, it brought back memories of that first season." Cairo had brief MLB stints with the Blue Jays (nine games in 1996) and Cubs (16 games in '97) before being the third player selected by Tampa Bay in the Expansion Draft. The Rays' first 40-man roster included Wade Boggs, Roberto Hernandez, Dave Martinez, Fred McGriff, Wilson Alvarez, Quinton McCracken and Randy Winn, an outfielder for the Giants who is the only original Ray, besides Cairo, still playing.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.