A celebration of baseball, a celebration of life

Friday night, before the Rays home opener, a group of Rays fans from Rays Republic gathered at the top of section 140 to celebrate their good friend Donna.  Carole made pins with Donna's Rays Republic handle, tbdudette, and the date she passed away. The group wore the pins and took pictures while telling stories about their special friend. Carole’s husband, Art, said the best way to explain the kind of person who Donna was was simply to say, if you didn’t like Donna, you just didn’t like people.

Art went on to tell how he and Carole had attended Fan Fest with Donna just before her passing.  They had all purchased tickets to Rays manager Joe Maddon’s spaghetti dinner, and Donna brought a sign indicating that she, like Joe, was from the same area in Pennsylvania.  Maddon spent an inordinate amount of time speaking with the folks at the table, Donna in particular; he had to be moved along by members of the Rays staff in order to make the rounds to the other tables.

Last night, the group sent one of the pins down to Maddon’s office before the game. During the media session in Joe’s office after the game, he had the pin propped up on his desk. It was obviously not just thrown down like a piece of junk mail or many of the random items often sprawled across Maddon’s desk. The way it was propped up, with the thoughtful person that Joe is, one imagines that he spent some time looking at the pin, and remembering his conversation with the woman whom he shared hometown ties. Joe Maddon, like those from the Rays Republic, recognized Donna as a very special woman.[image-1]

Friend Jen, who had the unenviable duty of relaying Donna’s passing to the rest of the message board, made a sign for Donna, which many of the Rays Republic signed. The poster read, “Donna Salvatore, we miss you very much,” and included a picture of Donna and Rays outfielder Matt Joyce. The poster spent the game in the seat that Donna was set to occupy before her untimely passing.  Jen ran into Matt Joyce down by the field before the game and asked him if he recalled meeting her and Donna at B.J. Upton’s bowling event, explaining to Matt that Donna had passed on.  Joyce was very gracious in remembering Donna and signing the poster.

During the middle of the fourth inning, the Rays Republic group had one more tribute to their great friend Donna. On the Rays Vision big screen, in between some birthday tributes and other mentions, came the message, “The Rays Republic loves Donna Salvatore.” Short, sweet, and to the point. In a world with less and less face-to-face interaction, this woman touched so many that she brought them all together on opening night; they celebrated her life and her love for Rays baseball.  Clearly, as Art said, tbdudette was not just a name on a message board.[image-2]

This story is dedicated to Donna Salvatore. Donna is survived by her family, friends and a message board of people who love and miss her very much; someone said it well when proclaiming, “Go Rays, for Donna!”

Just fewer than 40,000 people came to Tropicana Field Friday night to celebrate baseball, but for a handful of Rays fans the night had a deeper meaning behind it, as they gathered together to celebrate the life of one of the biggest Rays fans ever. The late Donna Salvatore was such a fan that when she wasn’t watching Rays baseball, she was on

The Internet has changed the world in ways people never could have imagined when they first fired up the old dial-up and tried to figure out what to do with this whole new mass of information and wave of communication.  Suddenly, you could speak to people with whom you never would have connected before, and no matter what you were into, there was a community of people with the same interest just waiting to talk to you about it. For many Rays fans The Rays Republic is just that community, and they demonstrated Friday night just how strong and tightly knit that community is.

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