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07/16/08 4:45 PM ET

MC Hammer to perform at Trop

Rays Summer Concert Series continues on Saturday

With Tampa Bay entering the second half of the season a half-game behind Boston in the American League East race, it is only fitting that the Rays' Saturday night musical guest earned his fame with songs titled "Pump It Up" and "Too Legit to Quit."

Yes, come Saturday, it will be "Hammer Time" at Tropicana Field as rapper MC Hammer takes the stage following the Rays-Blue Jays game. The concert is part of the team's postgame Summer Concert Series, presented by Hess Express, and is free to all fans in attendance.

Although Saturday will mark Hammer's first trip to the Rays' home dome, the high-energy entertainer is hardly a stranger to the baseball diamond.

A California native, Hammer spent every summer from ages 9-18 as an Oakland Athletics batboy, even earning his moniker from Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson, who likened the young star to Hammerin' Hank Aaron.

"It originated with a ballplayer by the name of Pedro Garcia, who was with the Milwaukee Brewers," Hammer explained. "He was the first one to say 'You really look like the Hammer,' speaking of Hank Aaron. And then the actual coining of the name afterward was Reggie Jackson, on a daily basis [using the nickname]."

Although Hammer has since traded in his cleats to sell millions of albums and top the 1990's pop charts, the rapper remains an avid baseball fan, and is even a participant in the increasingly popular MLBlogs.

"The baseball atmosphere is just a special, special thing and will remain a special thing always," Hammer said when asked of the significance of performing in a Major League park.

Hammer, who still resides in California, attends A's games when his busy schedule permits, and dubs the Giants his "National League team," with the club's AT&T Park close to his office.

But the baseball fan doesn't shy away from what's happening in a different Bay area.

"It's a testament to the positive reinforcement of the new ownership and the hard work of the players," Hammer said of the Rays' success. The rapper gave kudos to Tampa Bay's front office and added that close pennant races are what make baseball so enjoyable.

Similarly, the rapper caught "bits and pieces" of Tuesday's All-Star Game, but isn't ready to make an October prediction just yet.

Instead, Hammer will savor watching the games and being a part of the entertainment whenever possible.

"Most teams have their best record at home, they feed off a crowd," Hammer said.

And with a 13-1 record at the Trop when attendance exceeds 30,000, the Rays will certainly welcome any energy the high-octane performer may bring.

Brittany Ghiroli is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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