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March 4, 2011

Friday 5: Ray King

Spring Training is underway and former big league reliever Ray King has, again, found himself back in Arizona.

As head coach of the Independence Patriots in Glendale, Arizona.

And while he’s a long way from the Major Leagues, he’s keeping his love of the game alive and thriving.

HOVG: You’ve been playing baseball all your life…who has been your biggest influence and why?

KING: My biggest influence was a guy name Dave Henderson. He was someone who took the time to teach me the game and that you don't have to be the best, you just have to do your best and everything will work out for the best.

HOVG: Has that influence made its way to the field at IHS? If so…how?

KING: Yes the lesson I learned from Dave has helped me out to teach the kids at IHS to tell them do what they can do and not what others are doing. Be the player you are.

HOVG: After playing a number of seasons for nine different franchises, you’ve done your fair share of traveling…what is your most memorable travel experience?

KING: The most memorable trip is playing in St. Louis. When I was a little kid, my baseball team would come to see the Red Birds play every summer and I use to sit there and say to my friends and coaches that one day I would play on this field.

HOVG: You ended up pitching in a World Series for those Cardinals, set franchise records for appearances for both the Milwaukee Brewers and Atlanta Braves and, at one point in 2004, went 30 games without giving up a run. What has been your greatest achievement?

KING: My biggest achievement was making it to and staying in the Majors. My dream was to get there and it became a fantasy to play as long as I did. I was living a childhood dream. I love the game of baseball and that is why I'm coaching to stay in the game.

HOVG: When did you know that you “made it”?

KING: I knew I made it was when I got traded to Milwaukee and had a meeting with (manager Davey Lopes) and he told me that it was my job to lose . So from that day on, I never was hoping to make a team…it became “I belong here”. But you always have to look over you shoulder because the next guy is right behind you trying to take your job.

Ray King played nine seasons in the Majors, appearing in 577 games and pitching 403 innings. He compiled a 20-23 lifetime record with a 3.42 ERA.

Currently, he is the head coach of the varsity team at Independence High School in Glendale, Arizona and he needs your help. He’s asking for donations to get valuable equipment that his kids need to follow in his footsteps and imagine their dreams.

If you’re interested in helping out…please send your donations to Independence High School (Attn: Coach Ray King), 4220 N 161 Ave., Goodyear, AZ 85395.

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