Rays invite Seminole medicine man to ‘The Trop’ to work his magic

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A DJ and penguins, a python and … a Seminole tribal leader?

Add a Seminole medicine man to the list of interesting visitors to Tropicana Field in the past two seasons. Meet Bobby Henry, a 77-year-old Tampa-area resident invited by Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon on Monday to help change his team’s fortunes.

The Rays entered the day’s series finale against the Seattle Mariners with a 24-40 record, the worst in baseball. The Rays had lost 12 of 13 games since May 26 and stood a daunting 14 games behind the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League East.

So why a Seminole medicine man?

With the way this Rays season has gone, why not?

"Uniquely engaging fellow," Maddon said. "I really enjoyed my moment with him. We just turned him loose on the Trop."

Let’s just say Henry had used some "interesting" techniques in the past. Here’s how a February 2012 story in The Seminole Tribune described his ways:

"When Seminole medicine man Bobby Henry has to make it rain, he tosses a live gopher tortoise into the air. That angers the gods because ‘turtles not s’posed to fly,’ he said. When the gods get sufficiently angry, they roar with thunder and hurl spears of lighting (sic). If Bobby keeps throwing that turtle up, or if he adds a frog, as he did when he ended the drought in Tampa several years ago, the furious gods will send down torrents of angry rain."

So is Tropicana Field cursed?

"That field, not so bad," Henry said Monday. "I walked around. … I don’t think it’s real bad, you know?

"We just have to believe in the Seminole way."

Henry said his presence should have an immediate effect. It didn’t Monday afternoon, though. Hours after he acquainted himself with Tropicana Field, the Rays lost again, 3-0, despite 10 strikeouts in eight innings from their ace left-hander David Price.

"It’s just not going our way right now," Price said. "We had a medicine man here today sprinkling water on people’s chairs. That didn’t work."

There was this curious development: Rain fell over the dome starting in the bottom of the first. Draw your own conclusions.

So the Rays must wait another day for more pleasing results. Wherever the help comes — even from a higher power — they will take it.

"Yeah, we just have to go get it," Henry said. "Let’s do it. Tampa Bay is my town. I want to see them (the Rays) coming ahead."

You can follow Andrew Astleford on Twitter @aastleford or email him at aastleford@gmail.com.