A lifelong Rays fan is in need of a new game companion. This Port Charlotte woman is a season ticket holder and has been going to games alongside her husband for more than a decade.
Now, she’s gearing up for her first baseball season since his death. And, without him to drive her there, she can’t make it to St. Petersburg on her own. Now, she’s asking for a little help from her community.
With just one glance, it’s obvious that Karabeth Schleich loves her Tampa Bay Rays. She has a flag waving proudly outside of her Port Charlotte home. Inside her house, there are shelves loaded with items from giveaways and even her own personal hall of fame with signed memorabilia.
“You can see I’m a fan. I got all my gear on,” said Schleich.
She grew to love the game, thanks to the love of her life. Her husband of 50 years, Carl, went with her to her first Rays game. “I’m not going to be married to no Yankee fan, and I’m coming back to the Rays because I absolutely loved it. It was alive. It was energetic,” Schleich said.
And that energy lasted for more than a decade. The couple had season tickets and made Tropicana Field their home away from home. “Even though we were up in the third deck, and they probably didn’t hear us much that we were hollering anyway,” said Schleich.
This season will be different for Karabeth, though. It will be her first baseball season without Carl. He passed away in November of 2021.
He even repped the Rays in hospice care. “We put a Rays shirt on him. He had a blue pillow. And he had his Rays blanket on him. That’s what he had for his bed when he came home,” Schleich said.
Since she’s confined to a motorized chair and now has an extra ticket, Schleich needed someone to take her to the stadium this season. So, she took to Facebook and asked for help. Luckily, people are stepping up to the plate.
“Hopefully, I can provide to them an opportunity to experience the Trop and the joy that we have felt at the games,” said Schleich.
On Opening Day, she’ll return to the home of the Rays where she’ll once again get to be with Carl in her own way. “I’m going to sit in his seat and in that number one seat that he cherished so much, and I’m going to just picture him there screaming and hollering,” she said.
And she’s going to root for the Rays.
Karabeth says she’s got a baseball buddy for all but two games she plans to attend this season. She also said the Rays are finally going to win the World Series.