Tampa Bays Rays executives know that it's always a challenge to try and fill Tropicana Field, so with that in mind they went for the most exciting choice ever to throw out the first pitch in Game 1 of the ALDS. Was it the cast of Lost? Christian Bale? Tiger Woods? Well, you're close. Doing the honors for Games 1 and 2 will be, respectively, Rays general counsel John Higgins and golfer Paul Azinger. Settle down, girls! Tickets still available! Higgins is the first employee hired by the Rays in 1995. He will be joined on the field by many of the other 51 original employees still with the Rays’ organization. The first pitch before Game 2 will go to Azinger, captain of the victorious U.S. Ryder Cup team and a Bradenton resident. Confused by the choice of Higgins instead of, say, someone interesting? That's because you haven't read the man's bio.

Higgins has practiced law in the Tampa Bay area since 1979, specializing in corporate, commercial and real estate law. He is also a certified public accountant.

Yeah, I thought you'd change your tune when you read that. But incredibly, there's more.

Higgins received his bachelor of business administration degree from the University of Notre Dame in 1975 and his juris doctorate degree from Duke University School of Law in 1979. He resides in St. Petersburg, his home since 1960, with his wife, Robin, and sons, Sean Patrick and Patrick Ryan.

A graduate of both Notre Dame and Duke? How could we not love him! The following were seriously considered put ultimately rejected when Higgins became available: • Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne. • Mike Kashtan, owner of Mike Kashtan's Superior Auto Sales of Pinellas Park, FL. • Victor Gromoff (Jon Gruden's gardener). • Art Vandolay of Vandolay Industries. Higgins, Azinger Get First-Pitch Duties [The Tampa Tribune]