ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Rays have taken the “bang a gong” thing literally.
A gong with the Rays’ “starburst” logo has been placed close to a wall near the right-field foul line at Tropicana Field as a tribute to T. Rex’s 1971 hit, “Bang a Gong.” Upon bench coach Dave Martinez’s suggestion, the song has served as the Rays’ entrance music throughout the spring.
Details are foggy, but there seem to be plans to have someone “bang a gong” as the Rays take the field to the song before each game this season. However, no one struck the Eastern percussion instrument before Tampa Bay’s 3-3 tie with the Detroit Tigers to close spring training Saturday.
“I love this song,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said earlier this month. “I love the way it starts out. Davey says, ‘Why not play it when we come out on the field?’ … It’s such a great song, and it starts out so cool. A great riff in the beginning of it.”
The push to make a retro rock hit become cool at the Trop could take time. Earlier this spring, before a game against the Boston Red Sox on March 4, Maddon played “Bang a Gong” on his iPad in the clubhouse and offered $100 to anyone who could name the artist.
Pitcher Adam Liberatore guessed The Rolling Stones, but no one else gave it a stab. On Saturday, the gong’s presence and the reason behind it remained a mystery to a few Rays players.
“I didn’t know that,” outfielder Ben Zobrist said of the song Saturday. “When we’re getting ready to go out there, I’m in a zone. If I’m not playing, I’ll listen to (the song), probably.”
Said reliever Jake McGee: “No, I’m not sure. I don’t know anything.”
That’s OK. He’ll learn. America’s pastime meets Eastern tradition … all because of a British band. What’s not to like?