Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria went from infielder to storyteller this morning at the Seminole Heights Branch Library to kick off the seventh season of Reading With the Rays. With a crowd of young readers gathered around, Longoria led story time and gave out Rays gear, including an Evan Longoria arm sleeve.
By logging hours spent reading on a scorecard, kids can collect prizes as they hit milestones. The ultimate prize is a ticket to Tropicana Field for a game. Longoria said that he was inspired to become more involved with the program when he had a child of his own.
Ruth Vassar, who was at the event with her son, expressed her appreciation for the program.
"As a mom, it helps me keep my own child focused on what he needs to focus on during the summer," she said. "I don't want him to lose any ground while he's off for ten or eleven weeks."
The event was topped off with a surprise appearance by the team's mascot, Raymond. Longoria, the spokesman for the program, will be visiting local libraries throughout the summer.