It was the final regular season home game for the Tennessee Titans and they chose to honor Oakland Athletics’ starting pitcher Sonny Gray as their final “12th Titan” of the season.
Starting in 2011 the Titans launched the 12th Titan Initiative in which they honor a fan prior to the start of each home game. The lucky fans who can be anyone from a fan to a celebrity, civic leader, former Titans player or a community hero. The honoree must have Tennessee roots of some kind.
When the pre-game ceremony was just instituted the honoree would raise the Titans flag before the game could begin, much like the Ceremonial First Pitch at a baseball game.
In 2013 a new tradition was added to the ceremony. The honoree would grab the a special sword, run out to mid field and stab it into the ground in the middle of the Titans logo.
— Tennessee Titans (@TennesseeTitans) December 29, 2014
On Sunday, the Titans chose Sonny Gray to be their 12th man. As there are 11 men on the field at a time in football, the week’s 12 man is the team’s honorary member for that day.
Gray was born in Nashville, Tennessee where he attended Smyrna high school in Smyrna, TN, where he excelled in both baseball and football.
He later attended Tennessee’s Vanderbilt University where he played baseball from 2008-2011 before being drafted by Oakland 18th overall in the fist round of the of the 2011 amateur draft.
Gray has been stellar for the Athletics since making his MLB debut on July 10, 2013. He made two relief appearances and made his first career start in the majors that same month against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
In 2013, Gray went 5-3 with a 2.67 ERA making twelve appearances for the A’s, 10 of which were starts. In 2014, Gray was the A’s Opening Day starter. He went on to finish the season 14-10 with a 3.08 ERA in 33 starts for the Athletics. Needless to say, a Tennessee star became a National star.
Sunday his accomplishments in his first two MLB seasons were honored by the Titans as Sonny Gray became the Titans 12th man. Here is a link to the video of the pre-ceremony interview with Gray: