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News Story
Updated: 03/01/2014 08:00:01AM

‘Fan-tastic’ opener

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SUN PHOTO BY PAUL FALLON

Dave Bonacci grills bratwurst in the parking lot before the Tampa Bay Rays spring training opener Friday at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte. Bonacci is a longtime fan who often travels to Charlotte County from his home in St. Petersburg to watch the Rays' spring training games.

SUN PHOTO BY PAUL FALLON
Susie Rossi, 60, of Punta Gorda, is a die-hard Rays and Charlotte Stone Crabs (the Ray's minor-league affiliate) fan. Rossi not only was eager to watch Friday's spring training opener, but she also was pleased to visit with some friends she hasn't seen since last baseball season.

SUN PHOTO BY PAUL FALLON
Jack Sarles, 68, of Englewood, and his wife Lynn, 63, enjoy some food and beverages at the Tampa Bay Rays' spring training opener Friday at Charlotte Sports Park. The couple often come to spring training and Charlotte Stone Crabs games.

SUN PHOTO BY JEN BRUNO

The Tampa Bay Rays mascot, Raymond, gives a big hug to Levi Waxler before he performs "The Star-Spangled Banner" in American Sign Language, during the Rays' spring training opener Friday afternoon at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, against the Baltimore Orioles. The Rays lost to the Orioles 4-2. For more coverage, see Sports.

By PAUL FALLON

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PORT CHARLOTTE — The hot dogs were sizzling and the beer was flowing Friday as fans of all ages poured into Charlotte Sports Park to partake in America’s pastime, Southwest Florida-style.

Tampa Bay squared off against the Baltimore Orioles in the Rays’ spring training opener at the ballpark, and fans were eager to root on their favorite team. However the festivities weren’t all fun and games.

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