When Clifford was here!

Image310ST. PETERSBURG – Part of me felt extremely lame for doing this, but the man was practically myth at my high school, Thornwood. Prior to Saturday’s game, I went into the Rays’ clubhouse and introduced myself to Cliff Floyd.

He’s one of a few pro ballplayers that my high school has churned out — Steve Trout, Mark Mudler, and in basketball, Eddy Curry — and when I played there, my coach used to always begin his motivational speeches with, "When Clifford was here!…"

Beyond the fact that he’s a legend in the halls of T-Wood, where my favorite framed picture along the Wall of Fame is of his state title-winning team (all short dudes like me with Cliff towering over everyone from the second row), I wanted to say Hey to Floyd because my sister had a locker next to him in school.

She graduated the same year as he did and used to carry all her books around school with her because she could never get to her locker — Cliff was a popular dude. Turns out he did remember her, much to her delight when I called her today, and us fellow South Siders enjoyed a nice brief chat.

The Globe’s Jeff Blair knows Floyd from their days in Montreal and Blair said he was the first reporter to call Floyd after the Expos picked him up with the 14th overall pick in 1991. Legend has it that Floyd launched a homer for Thornwood that traveled over the right-field fence, over the tall football bleachers and on to the 50-yeard line. If he did, that was about 500 feet.

JAYS LOSE, 5-2: Oh yeah, there was a game of Rounders that occured on the grassy lot here at Al Lang Field today, too. Toronto remains winless, but impressive showings for both Dustin McGowan and Casey Janssen.

Play of the game came in the sixth, though, when John Rodriguez singled to right field for the Rays. Ben Zobrist tried to score on the play, but Marco Scutato — playing right — gloved the ball and fired a bullet to catching prospect Robinzon Diaz.

Diaz kept his left leg blocking the plate while stretching for the ball, and then swept around to collide and tag Zobrist for the inning’s final out. My description does it no justice. It was downright sick. The Jays coaches all jogged over to give Diaz his props as he entered the dugout.

With that, I’m heading out. Game tomorrow is on CityTV at 12:30. Tune in for Kathryn Humphrey’s in-depth interviews. "If you woke up and saw that your wife had the beginnings of a moustache, how would you react?" Man, I can’t wait to hear Scott Rolen’s answer…

HEY GLOBE AND STAR: I know I haven’t been around in this world as long as you guys have, but if you ever can’t locate the ballpark (or the freakin’ Gulf of Mexico, for that matter) feel free to give me a ring. Lords knows we can’t have Kelly and MacLeod wandering aimlessly around Florida.

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