Author’s Note: I used to write baseball articles for a now defunct website and I was given the opportunity to interview Kevin Cronin, singer for REO Speedwagon about the band opening the Tampa Bay Rays summer concert series in 2011. I was one of just a couple of “reporters” on the phone, and I forget the questions I asked but a cool experience I thought worth sharing that happened 10 years ago today.
REO Speedwagon to Open Rays Summer Concert Series
Iconic classic rockers REO Speedwagon are kicking off the Tampa Bay Rays summer concert series this year on April 30th immediately after the game against the Los Angeles Angels.
This is the fourth year Tampa Bay has had post-game concerts and considering the Rays are under .500 it couldn’t come at a better time since the team is 25-3 on concert nights and riding a surge in wins posting a 7-3 record in the last 10 games. The team organized 14 concerts last year.
“The average attendance on concert games is over 30,000, an increase of over 6,000 over our average attendance for the year,” said Brian Killingsworth, senior director of marketing for the team. “Fans of a particular band will come to see them play, but they will also see a very exciting brand of baseball and a very exciting game presentation.”
And that’s more good news for the team considering a recent article indicated Tampa fans were non-existent for the Rays recent victories over the Minnesota Twins (only 16,000 showed for Saturday’s win). The Rays clearly have stepped it up since the beginning of the season and are no longer in the cellar, climbing past Boston and now tied for second.
Kevin Cronin, lead singer for REO Speedwagon, said he expects to do a greatest hits package for about an hour or so since he knows the stadium will not be comprised of REO’s hardcore followers. Their hits include “Roll With The Changes,” “Keep On Loving You,” “Can’t Fight This Feeling” and “Take It On the Run” among many others. The band did a similar gig last year for the Atlanta Braves.
“It’s going to be fun that’s one thing I can guarantee,” he said.
An avid baseball fan, Cronin grew up cheering on the Chicago White Sox and fondly recalled his baseball playing days as a youth when he and his friends played every day during summer.
“In my mind I was Luis Aparicio,” Cronin said of the White Sox Hall-of-Fame shortstop. “Baseball played a big part of my life as a kid.”
Cronin said musicians and baseball players have a lot in common in that both have been doing the same thing since they were eight years old and were able to take that childhood passion into adult life and make a living of it. The musician and pro athlete never had to give up their dream.
“I don’t take that lightly,” he said.
Cronin especially loves the sport of baseball and believes it to be a great sport for kids. Being on the field and getting in the batter’s box teaches patience, concentration and develops the mind to react, he said.
While on tour, Cronin said if there is a day off at a city hosting a baseball game, it’s a pretty sure bet that at least one of the guys are at the game. Killingsworth said one of the reasons REO Speedwagon was asked to close a game for them was because the band is made up of huge baseball fans.
REO Speedwagon joins Darius Rucker and the Goo Goo Dolls among other acts for this season’s summer concert series. Previous acts included the Beach Boys, Daughtry, Ludacris and Bret Michaels. A rolling stage is placed in centerfield and fans can buy a wristband that gets them onto the field for the show, which typically begins about 15 minutes after the last out. For more information or to buy tickets visit http://www.raysbaseball.com/concerts.