Longoria, Rays inspired by boy's battle with cancer
Rays players and coaches first met Connor Bruseski before a June 12, 2012 game at Tropicana Field. The 7-year-old had been diagnosed with T-cell lymphoma in 2011 and was in the early rounds of chemotherapy when he and his family were invited to the ballpark.
Connor met many players including Evan Longoria and manager Joe Maddon -- who tweeted about his new friend. While Connor was on the field for batting practice that day, he gave one of his "Friends of Connor" bracelets to Longoria, who put it on immediately and promised he'd wear it on the field. Sure enough, Longoria wore the bracelet that night and during every game for the rest of the 2012 season.
Cut to Saturday in Port Charlotte, Fla., when the Bruseski family found themselves on the field watching batting practice during Connor's spring break. Rays PR pro Rick Vaughn saw Longoria walking behind the batting cage and asked him if he remembered a young boy named "Connor." Longoria responded by pointing to the bracelet on his wrist and eagerly asking, "you mean this Connor?"
The Rays third baseman walked over to the family, gave Connor a hug and smiled as the now 8-year-old boy took off his hat to show a full head of hair. Longoria explained that the bracelet Connor gave him never broke, so he just kept wearing it.
Connor finishes his chemotherapy in February 2014 and the plan is for the young Rays fan to attend a game next spring to tell Longoria he's cancer free.
Hopefully, the "Friends of Connor" bracelet will still be on Longoria's wrist when he receives the good news.
-- Jonathan Gantt / MLB.com Real-Time Correspondent