TAMPA, Fla. -- As far as David Price knew, a key to the city was an honor usually reserved for "war heroes and stuff." Turns out the first Cy Young Award in Tampa Bay Rays history was good enough to earn one for Price and his French bulldog, Astro.
Price, a Tampa resident, was awarded the key to the city of Tampa as part of a ceremony in which mayor Bob Buckhorn declared Dec. 11, 2012, to be "David Price Day."
"We're happy to do it, to celebrate the accomplishments of one of our own who really has excelled," Buckhorn said. "You look at the competition and you look at the level of skill that these guys have, to know that he's the best of the best, that speaks volumes. Very humble. You heard it today. He talked all about the team. These are the kinds of awards and accolades that you like to give, because they're very well deserved."
Indeed, the first thing Price said to the several hundred people gathered in downtown Tampa was that he was only one piece of the Rays' puzzle. He joked that his legs were shaking as he listened to Buckhorn read the official proclamation, though not quite as nervously as he shook before receiving the 2012 American League Cy Young Award.
"That was very cool," Price said. "To come out here and be able to do this, to be a part of the city of Tampa, to have everyone come out and support me today, that was a great feeling."
Price wasn't sure exactly what all David Price Day entailed or what he should do with his key to the city. Asked about his Twitter post wondering whether every Tuesday should be David Price Day, he responded, "I'm saying it is. Every Tuesday is David Price Day. Why not?"
The first thing that came to his mind, he said, was using his key to open up a Chick-fil-A restaurant on Sunday. Other than that, he joked, "I'm just trying out different locks."
Buckhorn said Tampa is typically fairly selective when awarding keys to the city, and he could only remember one other athlete to receive one: Olympic sprinter Tianna Madison, a gold medal winner in 2012.
"I know what a stand-up guy he is. I know what he represents. I know what he embodies. It's indicative of the entire organization," Buckhorn said of Price. "And to know that a Tampa resident and a member of our team was named basically the Most Valuable Player really is an honor. For me to be able to do this is the least that I could do for him."
But Buckhorn did take it one step further, issuing two keys Tuesday. One went to Price, the other to Price's dog, Astro. After briefly addressing the crowd, Price held up Astro, who grunted into the microphone and drew arguably the biggest cheers of the afternoon.
"Never given one to a dog before. That's a first," Buckhorn laughed. "Especially to a talking dog."
Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry.