ARLINGTON, Texas — When Rays righty Ryan Thompson made his MLB debut on July 24, his father, Ed, flew from Oregon just to be in the same city as his son on the biggest day of his career.
Ed wasn’t allowed inside Tropicana Field due to the MLB's COVID-19 protocols, so he watched the game at Ferg's Sports Bar across the street.
Three months later, not much has changed. He’s still watching from a distance.
"To be in the World Series is a dream for our kids and us," Thompson said. "I’ve never been to a World Series game. And now I get to come to a World Series game, and my son gets to play in it. It’s hard to even explain how amazing that is."
Thompson has been traveling with his son -- who was rehabbing from Tommy John surgery just two years ago -- every step of the way during Tampa Bay's playoff run.
"He's the underdog story like most of the Rays," he said. "Had to battle through, was barely recognized, kept working his way up through the levels."
Due to MLB rules, friends and family members aren’t allowed to make physical contact with players and coaches unless they’re in the MLB bubble, which means they can't give their kids a hug on the field after games.
"Most of the parents have learned to send a quick text," Thompson said.
They have alose found another way to communicate.
During games at Petco Park in San Diego for the ALDS and ALCS, Rays parents coordinated cheers from the suites, hoping players could hear them in the dugout.
"We talked to some players later and they were like, 'We can’t see you guys. It’s just a blob of people, but we heard 'Rays' so we looked up,'" Thompson said. "Especially Ji-Man Choi. He would turn around and wave and start dancing for us and stuff."
Traveling together from the Wild Card Series at the Trop to the series on the West Coast has led to a fraternity of sorts among the parents.
"Being with all the different families has been just amazing," Thompson said. "I don’t think you would experience it normally."
There's a good mix of personalities in the group.
"Me and Clancy McClanahan and Greg Glasnow, we're the loud ones of the group. And everybody embraces it," Thompson said. "Here's a surprising one -- Jeanne Morton is one of the loudest ones in the group, and we all just love her to death."
With 11,500 fans now allowed in the stands at Globe Life Field for the World Series, it’s bittersweet for these rowdy rays.
"We’re actually disappointed because before we are jammed in, rooting together, supporting each other when we go to the game," Thompson said. "And now we’re all spread out in the stadium, and there’s been some concern about that, like, I wanted to sit with you!"
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