By Andrea Alvarez

TAMPA, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – “We wanna be here early to get a good spot,” Deb Yost, Tampa Bay Rays Fan.

Fans were out hours before first pitch Friday to celebrate the end of a lockout and the beginning of a fresh season of baseball in Tampa Bay.

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The 2021-2022 MLB lockout officially became the longest in the sport’s history. After 43 days, Major League Baseball and it’s players association finally reached a decision on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

But that was all in the past Friday as fans gathered from every direction in St. Petersburg.

“I try to come about 6 or 8 times a year,” said Yost.

Traveling all the way from Springhill, Josh, Nicole and little Carter sought out family tradition: Carter’s first ever Tampa Bay Rays game.

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“I came to my first game in 1998. My grandfather took me. And I always dreamed one day I would take my son here 24 years later,” said Josh Smith, Carter’s Father and a Tampa Bay Rays Fan.

“He is 6 months old,” said Carter’s mom Nicole Smith who’s also Tampa Bay Rays Fan. “We got his Rays gear on and he’s been super excited this whole drive over here.”

“I don’t think it’s sunk in yet,” added Josh.

So geared up from head to toe, Carter and thousands of Rays fans standing by were ready to take the field.

“Just really want to make some memories today. And we really want to give a shout out to Grandma and Nana! Yes, and Peepaw up in heaven who took me to my first game,” said Josh.

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Next home game is set for Saturday against the Orioles at Tropicana Field at 1:10pm.