In 1998, Tampa got a Major League Baseball team! Not just spring training anymore but a real MLB home team to root for! The original name was the “Devil Rays” with a stingray as their team logo. There was a big league player named Wade Boggs who played the first season and gave the team their 1st home run. Boggs also hit his 3,000 with a home run, joining Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez as the only players to hit 3,000 with a home run. A great way for a new team to get started!
There have been some great players on the Rays over the years! Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena, Reid Brignac, pitcher David Price, Johnny Damon and fan favorite third baseman Evan Longoria! There was the year of the American League pennant win in 2008 and going to the World Series! Longoria also won Rookie of the Year! It was an exciting time for the Rays & Tampa, after paying their dues for the first 10 years of play. 2008 and 2011, brought the MLB manager of the year award to Joe Maddon. David Price won the Cy Young award in 2012 for his pitching skills. In 2013, the Rays won the American League Wild Card game.
The Rays have gone above and beyond with community involvement over the years! From building houses with Habitat for Humanity to Rays employees mentoring kids for Big Brothers, Big Sisters! They visit the local Ronald McDonald house and deliver Meals on Wheels to the elderly and infirm once a week. There are donations to various charities all around the Tampa Bay area. Work is done with the Prostate Cancer Foundation, Susan B. Komen Foundation and great programs for local kids including the Rays Jersey program which provides jerseys and equipment to t-ball teams! They also offer scholarships and grants which your 501(c)(3) corporation can apply for. See the Rays website for more information. Click here
Over the years, Tropicana Field, the home of the Rays, has been a topic of hot debate for baseball fans. Not an inside stadium for baseball some would say. America’s pastime that is an outdoor, summer sport should be played outside has been heard. With the summer temperatures in the high 90’s and 100% humidity in Florida, inside games are a welcome way to escape the heat to baseball fans who live here year round. Over the years, the look of Tropicana Field has changed with addition of a walk-around deck, more food and drink options including the new addition of “Mister Softee” ice cream, areas for the kids to play and of course the stingray tank! A popular attraction at the stadium for adults and kids alike, it puts you up-close and personal with the sea creatures. The original team mascot is Raymond Ray, and over the years the popular DJ Kitty and the only stingray allowed out of the tank to mingle with the crowd, Stinger, has been added as official team mascots. Beloved by the fans, you often see them walking around the stadium, taking selfies and participating in getting the crowd enticed with their antics.
By having our own baseball team in Tampa, we have the opportunity to see other American League teams come to town like the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Detroit Lions and teams from around the country that would only be seen on TV or by traveling to another state. The Rays and Tropicana Field have a lot to offer baseball fans. Over the years, there have been after-game concerts with some of the biggest names in music, great giveaways and special ticket prices. Currently, the 50/50 raffle is an exciting, fun way to win some bucks.
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the team, a display of memorabilia from the first “Devil Rays” jersey to the 2008 American League Pennant trophy are on the main floor inside Gate 1. Be sure and check that out while attending the closing weekend of games against the Toronto Blue Jays. Saturday will have a Dan Johnson bobblehead giveaway and Sunday is a TB Popsocket for the kids! If you missed going to a game this season, there is always next year! Thanks Tampa Bay Rays for giving us a great 20 years of baseball in Tampa Bay!
Photos courtesy of Vicky Sullivan / Rock the Lens Photography.