Count Matt Bruback among those glad the Tampa Bay Rays are alive and kicking.
His interest is twofold:
Having spent nine seasons pitching in the minors, he recognized how the Texas Rangers, ahead 2-0 in the best-of-five American League Division Series, had the tables turned on them.
“It’s easy to get complacent when you’re on top of somebody and all you have to do is one of three games,” said Bruback, 31. “The Rays took advantage of it.”
The other reason for his interest in the Rays prolonging their season?
It’s good for his business.
Bruback’s company, Original Diamond Designs, Inc., is trying to gain traction with a line of $79.95 silver baseball and softball pendants he designed for the local market this summer.
Monday they were on display at Lakewood Design Jewelry, owned by Jeff Rampinelli, a Manatee East Little League board member and coach.
One bears the initials “TB.”
Other pendants — all 3/4-inch wide — bore initials like “SS” for shortstop and “K” for strikeout, as well as jersey numbers.
“I designed them with athletes in mind, but it’s a good gift for kids, too,” he said.
It was Rampinelli’s idea to include jersey numbers on pendants.
“It’s something that looks cool, doesn’t look like it came out of a vending machine,” he said. “This is definitely top quality, otherwise I wouldn’t market it.”
Bruback, who starred at Manatee Community College, originally got the idea when he joined the Portland Beavers, the San Diego Padres’ Triple-A ball club in the Pacific Coast League, in 2004.
Drafted by the Chicago Cubs in 1997, he also played with Pittsburgh and Baltimore, but never rose above Triple-A ball.
“I was specifically looking for something that had a P on it for pitcher and I couldn’t find anything,” he said. “So I came up with the idea — a baseball diamond with homeplate and P and put it on a pendant — and had one piece custom made.”
Bruback didn’t get around to producing his idea because he was immersed in another project.
He had designed a weighted sports belt to help his balance after a leg injury, then revamped it to help children with special needs.
He said he has sold more than 10,000 belts and reinvested it into his company, which includes juicers as well as the pendants.
A chance meeting with a Peruvian jewelry maker last April revived the idea for the pendants.
“There’s nothing like it on the market,” Bruback said.
Most of their sales are on-line, while Davidson’s Jewelry in Cooperstown, N.Y., home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, is his leading retailer.
“It’s new, unique and people like them,” owner Becky Davidson-Nielsen said. “I have not seen anything and I’ve looked at a lot of baseball jewelry for 26 years.”
Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 745-7055.