KANSAS CITY -- Shortly after the Tampa Bay Rays locked up their first postseason berth by defeating Minnesota on Saturday afternoon, White Sox catcher Toby Hall sent off a text message of congratulations to hitting coach Steve Henderson.
Hall understands better than others what this accomplishment means to the Rays' coaching staff, players and fan base. The catcher suited up for Tampa Bay at the start of his career, from 2000 to midway through the 2006 campaign, before he was traded to the Dodgers.
"It was awesome. That's awesome to see," said Hall of the Rays' success. "I know a lot of coaches who are still there, who have been through the worst part of it.
"I'm happy to see this for guys like [third-base coach Tom] Foley and Hindu [Henderson], those guys that I was with my whole career. They saw the worst and now get to see the best. It's good to see the excitement down there."
If the regular season was to end on Sunday, the team that drafted Hall in the ninth round of the 1997 First-Year Player Draft and his current employers would meet in the first round of the playoffs. Hall smiled at the possibility, knowing he could sleep at home for both locations of this potential series.
He also expressed happiness for veterans such as Rocco Baldelli and Carl Crawford, who have survived the lean years with the Rays, to now reach the start of baseball's promised land.
"Nobody said it was going to be easy, but they had to be patient," Hall said. "When you are losing 100 games per year and you are the laughing stock of baseball, it wasn't fun or easy to play. When you turn around and do the opposite, they deserve congratulations because it's neat to see.
"Everything just clicked. I have friends living down there, and everyone going to the stadium has a good feeling."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.