|Tampa Bay Rays|
(formerly the Tampa Bay Devil Rays)
|Major league affiliations|
|Major league titles|
|World Series titles (0)||None|
|AL Pennants (1)||2008|
|Division titles (1)||2008|
|Wild card berths (0)||None|
The Tampa Bay Rays are a professional baseball team based in St. Petersburg, Florida. The Rays are a member of the Eastern Division of Major League Baseball's American League. From 1998 to the present, the Rays have played in Tropicana Field.
From their inception up until November 2007, the organization's name was the "Devil Rays", after the common nickname for the manta ray. They were nicknamed "The D-Rays", a shortened version of the Devil Rays name. The new name "Rays" is described by principal owner Stuart Sternberg as the team representing, "A beacon that radiates throughout Tampa Bay and across the entire state of Florida."
An expansion franchise, the club was founded in St. Petersburg in 1998.
- 1 Professional baseball in Tampa Bay
- 2 Franchise history
- 2.1 Before 1998
- 2.2 1998-2003: Early years as the Devil Rays
- 2.3 2004: Rise of Crawford, Baldelli and Kazmir
- 2.4 2005: End of Piniella era
- 2.5 2006: Rebuilding Year
- 2.6 2007: Peña and young stars lead the way
- 2.7 2008 season
- 3 Season records
- 4 Rivals
- 5 Quick facts
- 6 Retired numbers
- 7 Current roster
- 8 Environmental record
- 9 Franchise leaders
- 10 Radio and television
- 11 Rays fandom
- 12 Minor league affiliations
- 13 Notable former players
- 14 See also
- 15 References
- 16 External links
Professional baseball in Tampa Bay[edit | edit source]
Template:Seealso Local Leaders made many unsuccessful attempts to acquire a major league baseball team in the 1980s and 1990s. The Minnesota Twins, San Francisco Giants, Chicago White Sox, Texas Rangers, and Seattle Mariners all considered moving to either Tampa or St. Petersburg before deciding to remain in their current locations. The Florida Suncoast Dome (now named Tropicana Field) was built in St. Petersburg in 1990 with the purpose of luring a major league team. When MLB announced that it would add two expansion teams for the 1993 season, it was widely assumed that one of the teams would be placed in St. Petersburg. However, the teams were awarded to Denver (Colorado Rockies) and Miami (Florida Marlins) instead.
In 1992, San Francisco Giants owner Bob Lurie agreed in principle to sell his team to a Tampa Bay-based group of investors led by Vince Naimoli, who would then move the team to St. Petersburg. However, at the 11th hour, MLB owners nixed the move under pressure from San Francisco officials and the Giants were sold to a group that kept them in San Francisco.
It was civic leader and St. Petersburg Times publisher Jack Lake who first suggested St. Petersburg pursue a Major League baseball team. The notable influences Lake held in the sport are what led to the serious discussions that changed St. Petersburg from a spring training location to a major league city.
Finally, on March 9, 1995, new expansion franchises were awarded to Naimoli's Tampa Bay group and a group from Phoenix (the Arizona Diamondbacks). The new franchises were scheduled to begin play in 1998.
The Tampa Bay area finally had a team, but the stadium in St. Petersburg was already in need of an upgrade. In 1993, the stadium was renamed the Thunderdome and became the home of the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team and the Tampa Bay Storm Arena Football League team. After the birth of the Rays, the naming rights were sold to Tropicana Products and $70 million was spent on renovations.
Franchise history[edit | edit source]
Before 1998[edit | edit source]
The Devil Rays began to build their organization shortly after the franchise was awarded in 1995 by naming former Atlanta Braves assistant general manager Chuck LaMar the senior vice president of baseball operations and general manager. The franchise's first minor league games took place in the 1996 season. On November 7, 1997, Larry Rothschild was named the team's first manager. The team acquired 35 players in the Expansion Draft on November 18, 1997. Tony Saunders from the Florida Marlins was the first player drafted by the Devil Rays. The team also drafted future star Bobby Abreu and promptly traded him to the Philadelphia Phillies for Kevin Stocker, who had very little success for the Rays. Before the 1998 season, star players Wade Boggs, Fred McGriff, and Wilson Alvarez were acquired.
1998-2003: Early years as the Devil Rays[edit | edit source]
The Devil Rays played their first game on March 31, 1998 against the Detroit Tigers at Tropicana Field before a crowd of 45,369. Wilson Alvarez threw the first pitch and Wade Boggs hit the first home run in team history that day, and although the Devil Rays lost their opening game 11-6, they actually got off to a good start. They were 11-8 after 19 games before losing six straight, falling below .500, never to recover to that level again in their inaugural season. They would go on to lose 99 games that year. Since then, the Rays have yet to have a winning season, finishing in last place in the American League East every year from 1998 - 2003. José Canseco was signed prior to the 1999 season. One of the most memorable moments in franchise history occurred on August 7, 1999 when Wade Boggs tallied his 3000th career hit on a home run, the only player to ever do so. Boggs retired after the season and is the only Ray with his number retired (ironically, he spent more time with the Red Sox and Yankees yet neither team has hung up his jersey). He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2005.
The Devil Rays acquired sluggers Vinny Castilla and Greg Vaughn on December 13, 1999 and dubbed McGriff, Canseco, Castilla, and Vaughn the "Hit Show". As it turned out, however, all of these players were past their prime, and the team continued to struggle in 2000. Prior to the 2001 season, the Rays changed their team colors and uniforms and also acquired highly-touted outfielder Ben Grieve from Oakland but neither move improved their luck in the standings. On April 18, Larry Rothschild was fired as manager and was replaced by Hal McRae, and McGriff was dealt to the Chicago Cubs, interestingly taking nearly a month to decide whether to enforce his no-trade clause or to leave his hometown of Tampa for Chicago, which was in a heated divisional race. By the 2002 season, the Devil Rays decided to build with younger players and drastically reduced the team payroll. Randy Winn, Aubrey Huff, Toby Hall, and Carl Crawford began to emerge as key players. However, the 2002 season would prove to be the worst in franchise history to date. McRae was moved to a front office position after the season.
Before the 2003 season, the team traded Randy Winn to the Seattle Mariners for the right to negotiate with manager Lou Piniella, a Tampa native, who managed winning teams at every stop in his managerial career, including the New York Yankees, the Cincinnati Reds (whom he led to a World Championship in 1990), and the Mariners (whom he led to American League Runner-Up finishes in 1995, 2000, and 2001). Piniella was attracted to the Tampa Bay job because of the proximity to his family and the chance to build a losing franchise into a winner as he had done in Seattle. Piniella's first team still finished last, but was seven games better than the 2002 team. A highlight of the 2003 season was the emergence of Rocco Baldelli, a native of Rhode Island, as one of the top rookies in the major leagues. A bizarre incident occurred in 2003 when, in an interleague game against the Chicago Cubs, Sammy Sosa's bat broke on a pitch from Devil Rays pitcher Geremi González, only to reveal it was corked.
2004: Rise of Crawford, Baldelli and Kazmir[edit | edit source]
Expectations were low for the team entering the 2004 season, but the team surprised most baseball experts by finishing with the best record in team history, 70-91. It was the first time the Devil Rays won 70 games in a season and they also finished in 4th place in the American League East, out of last place for the first time ever. Their record was 10-28 coming into May when they made their run in which they won 30 of 40 games, including a team-record 12 games in a row. The Rays had a 42-41 record after 83 games, within 5 games of the American League wild card. However, the team soon returned to its losing ways, leading to a final record of 21 games below .500. The season was highlighted by the continued development of Aubrey Huff, Carl Crawford, and Rocco Baldelli into some of the top young hitters in baseball. The front office produced a major accomplishment on July 30, 2004 when pitcher Victor Zambrano was traded to the New York Mets for pitcher Scott Kazmir, who has since become the team's best pitcher and one of the top young pitchers in all of baseball.
2005: End of Piniella era[edit | edit source]
After a 28-61 record at the All-Star Break in 2005, the Devil Rays turned it around in the second half of the season, going 39-34, for a final record of 67-95. Rocco Baldelli missed the entire 2005 season due to injury, but Carl Crawford and newcomers Jorge Cantu and Jonny Gomes led a productive offense that finished third in the American League in team batting average. To counterbalance that, however, the pitching staff had the second worst ERA in the American League. During their strong second half, the Devil Rays played spoilers in September, with timely victories over contenders such as the New York Yankees, Cleveland Indians, and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Despite the promising finish, Lou Piniella became frustrated with what he perceived as an insufficient commitment to winning by the ownership group, and he reached a settlement with the team to release him from the last year of his contract.
2005-2006 offseason: Front office and managerial changes[edit | edit source]
Shortly after the season ended, Stuart Sternberg, who bought into the ownership group in 2004, took over from Vince Naimoli as managing general partner, thus taking over executive control of the team. He immediately fired Chuck LaMar, who had been the team's general manager since the team's first season, and most of the front office. Matthew Silverman was named the team president, and Andrew Friedman took the role of Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations. Gerry Hunsicker, former General Manager of the Houston Astros, was named the Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations, with the responsibility of advising the younger Friedman. Sternberg decided not to have a de jure General Manager, calling the position "outdated". Friedman and Hunsicker share the role of team representative at MLB functions.
The team focused its rebuilding efforts around young stars such as outfielders Carl Crawford, Rocco Baldelli, and Jonny Gomes, infielder Jorge Cantu (who hit 28 home runs and drove in 117 runs in 2005) and pitcher Scott Kazmir (who finished in the top 5 in the American League in strikeouts). Baldelli missed the entire 2005 season with injuries, but returned to the team in 2006. Also figuring into the Rays' future plans were Delmon Young and B.J. Upton, considered two of the best prospects in all of baseball.
In December 2005, Joe Maddon, the former bench coach for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, was named the new manager of the Devil Rays, the fourth in team history, replacing Lou Piniella in that role.
During the offseason, the new front office invested $10 million in improvements to Tropicana Field. Among the major changes were new club seating on the first base side, a 35-foot, 10,000 gallon touch tank holding 30 live cownose rays behind the right-center field fence, and the addition of the Ted Williams Museum and Hitters Hall of Fame, relocated from Citrus County. Other changes to increase attendance and fan interest included free parking at all home games, allowing tailgating in the parking lot before games, allowing fans to bring their own food and drinks into Tropicana Field, lower ticket prices and concession prices, and an increased number of promotions and give-aways.
2006: Rebuilding Year[edit | edit source]
With the change of ownership and the strong finish to the 2005 season, Tampa Bay fans were optimistic about the 2006 season. On April 10, 2006, the official attendance at Tropicana Field for the Rays' home opener was 40,199, the highest turnout since the 1998 Inaugural Season home opener.
An unfortunate event occurred on April 26, when Delmon Young, playing for the Triple-A Durham Bulls, was ejected from the first inning of a game for arguing a third strike, and tossed his bat at the umpire, striking him in the chest protector. The umpire was not injured, but Young was suspended indefinitely the next day by the International League. Young ultimately was suspended for 50 games without pay and performed 50 hours of community service.
At the All-Star Break, Tampa Bay was only 11 games under the .500 mark (39-50). However, the front office became convinced that the Devil Rays would not contend in 2006 and they traded several veteran players who were not in their future plans for younger players who were expected to contribute more in future seasons. The trades included:
- On June 20, outfielder Joey Gathright and infielder Fernando Cortez were traded to the Kansas City Royals for pitcher J.P. Howell.
- On June 27, pitcher Mark Hendrickson and catcher Toby Hall were traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for pitcher Jae Seo, 22-year old catcher Dioner Navarro, and minor league outfielder Justin Ruggiano.
- On July 12, infielder and long-time Ray Aubrey Huff was traded to the Houston Astros for young shortstop Ben Zobrist and minor league pitcher Mitch Talbot.
- On July 31, shortstop Julio Lugo was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for minor league prospects Joel Guzman and Sergio Pedroza.
- On August 24, utility player Russell Branyan was traded to the San Diego Padres for minor league pitchers Evan Meek and Dale Thayer.
The Devil Rays struggled in the second half, going 22-51 to finish the season with a 61-101 record, the worst in the major leagues. The team's poor play in the second half was attributed to the trades of veterans for prospects, injuries to key players such as Scott Kazmir and Ty Wigginton, and slumps by several players (notably Jonny Gomes and Jorge Cantu). Another factor was that the Devil Rays played extremely poorly on the road, winning only 3 out of 36 road games after July 1. This matched the 1943 Philadelphia Athletics for the least number of road wins after the All Star break in baseball history. Overall, the Rays went 20-61 on the road, the third lowest number of wins on the road by any team since 1961. On top of that, they led the major leagues in the number of leads blown with 94 and set a new American League record by losing 60 games that they had led. The Rays led in 121 games, but won only 61.
The Devil Rays were involved in two unusual triple plays in 2006; one they hit into, the other they executed themselves. On June 11 against Kansas City, they hit into the third triple play in major league history, and first since 1937, that involved an appeal. Russell Branyan flew out to center, Rocco Baldelli tried to advance to second base and was thrown out, and then Aubrey Huff was called out when the umpires ruled that he left third base early when he tagged up. Then, on September 2 against Seattle, the Rays executed a 2-6-2 triple play where the ball never touched the bat, something that had never been done before. Seattle's Raúl Ibáñez struck out, Dioner Navarro caught Adrian Beltre trying to steal second base, and then Ben Zobrist threw Jose Lopez out at home plate.
On the positive side, the Devil Rays finished with a winning record at home (41-40) for the first time ever. Also, home attendance increased by 20% over 2005 to 1,372,193. This was the Rays' highest attendance since 2000.
2006-2007 offseason: Rays sign Iwamura[edit | edit source]
During the 2006 offseason, Erik Walker, a 23-year-old pitching prospect for the Hudson Valley Renegades who had recently gone 3-1 with a 0.48 ERA during his first professional season, died in a canoeing accident on the New River in Grayson County, Virginia.
On November 15, 2006, the Devil Rays won the rights to negotiate a contract with Japanese infielder Akinori Iwamura. He was signed to a three-year, $7.7-million contract on December 15, and ultimately made the 2007 Opening Day active roster. The Devil Rays paid $4.55 million USD (around ¥538 million) to the Tokyo Yakult Swallows for the rights to Iwamura.
In an effort to court the Orlando, Florida, market, the Devil Rays played a series at The Ballpark (now called Champion Stadium) at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex in the 2007 season. The series selected was the May 15-17 series versus the Texas Rangers. The Devil Rays swept the Rangers in that series. 
2007: Peña and young stars lead the way[edit | edit source]
Template:Mainarticle The Devil Rays had the youngest starting line-up since the 1983 Minnesota Twins. One of those young players, Elijah Dukes, was put on the temporary inactive list when a St. Petersburg Times report alleged he threatened to kill his estranged wife and their children. Dukes didn't play again for the remainder of the season. On the other hand, the Rays had bright spots on the year as they were led by pitchers James Shields and Scott Kazmir, who were both exceptional. Shields put in 215 innings and would have been close to 20 wins had he not endured multiple bullpen collapses. Meanwhile, Kazmir struck out a career high 239 batters with an ERA of 3.48.
Offensively, the Devil Rays may have had their best year. Tampa Bay was third in the AL in home runs (187) notably behind the New York Yankees. They also posted 131 stolen bases which also placed them third in the AL. They were led by Comeback Player of the Year, Carlos Peña who batted .282 and set Rays records in home runs (46), RBIs (121), walks (103), on-base percentage (.411), and slugging percentage (.627). He ranked fourth in the Majors in home runs and sixth in RBIs. They were also led by BJ Upton, All-Star Carl Crawford, and rookies Delmon Young and Akinori Iwamura.
With their improved offense the Devil Rays were one of baseball's best six-inning teams, but the absence of a steady bullpen wrecked many quality starts. The bullpen problem was at its worst during the first half, when the likes of Casey Fossum, Jae Seo and Edwin Jackson were just as likely to pitch two innings as five, which taxed an already mediocre bullpen by forcing them to log extra innings.
The Devil Rays compiled the worst record in baseball (66-96), finishing last in the American League East for the ninth time in their 10-season existence. The Rays signed manager Joe Maddon to a contract extension, with the club picking up the 2008 and 2009 club options.
2007-2008 offseason: New name, uniforms & outlook[edit | edit source]
New uniforms for the 2008 season were officially revealed on November 8, 2007.The unveiling coincided with a name change for the team, as the team was now officially called the "Tampa Bay Rays". The new team colors are "navy, Columbia blue and a touch of gold". The new team logo features a bright yellow sunburst that represents the Sunshine State of Florida. In the original press release, principal owner Stuart Sternberg said "We are now the 'Rays' - a beacon that radiates throughout Tampa Bay and across the entire state of Florida." "We Are One Team," the pitch for the 2008 season was announced February 22, 2008. The phrase, as president Matt Silverman says, refers to the idea of an improved and talented team allied with the fan base across the Tampa Bay area.
Roster moves[edit | edit source]
The Rays front office had promised to increase the team's payroll for the coming season. Whereas it was approximately $24 million in 2007, lowest in the majors , the "mid-30s" had been rumored as a minimum for 2008. But, after free-agency signings and contract extensions to players already on the roster, it was raised to $43 million 
While the Rays began the 2008 season with much the same lineup that ended the 2007 season, several key trades and free agent signings improved the team. The Rays traded Delmon Young, Brendan Harris, and Jason Pridie to the Twins for Matt Garza, Jason Bartlett, and Eduardo Morlan. The Rays signed a one-year deal with veteran relief pitcher Troy Percival who has taken over closer duties, moving Al Reyes into a role as a set-up man. The Rays signed Cliff Floyd, who has split time at designated hitter and right field. Top third-base prospect Evan Longoria was expected to be the starter at the hot corner while the Rays also signed the #1 pick in the draft last year, pitcher David Price, who was widely recognized as one of the top players in college baseball.
New ballpark?[edit | edit source]
Template:Mainarticle The biggest surprise of the 2007 offseason came on November 9 when the Rays announced that they were in negotiations to potentially build a new $450-million, 34,000 seat, open-air baseball stadium at the site of Progress Energy Park/Al Lang Field, their current spring training facility on the St. Petersburg waterfront, to open by 2012. Financial plans for the new stadium were revealed on May 15, 2008. The deal would see owner Stu Sternberg providing $150 million to the project, and much of the remaining money would be covered by the sale of redevelopment rights to Tropicana Field and the state of Florida's 30-year, $60-million sales tax rebate for new venues. The city of St. Petersburg would also pay roughly $75 million that team officials say the city has already committed to the franchise. Any final plans would have to be approved by voters in St. Petersburg since all new construction on public property must be put to a referendum, regardless of whether or not the project uses taxpayer money.  On June 25, 2008 the Rays officially dropped their proposal for the waterfront stadium. Instead, they opted to hire a focus group to help garnish support for the Rays and seek other possible locations for the stadium.
2008 season[edit | edit source]
The Rays finished Spring Training with 18 wins, a club record. They also finished with the highest winning percentage in the Grapefruit League, and tied for the highest of all teams in spring training with the Oakland Athletics. They began the regular season with a win on the road in Baltimore. This snapped a 7-game losing streak in road openers for the franchise, which was the longest active streak in the league until then.
As they did during the 2007 season, the Rays played a regular season home series at Champion Stadium in Walt Disney World for the April 22-24 series against the Toronto Blue Jays. As in the Orlando series in the previous season, the Rays won all three games.
The Rays suffered through many injuries during April and had hovered just above .500 until the end of the month. However, the sweep of the Blue Jays was followed by the team's first-ever sweep of the Boston Red Sox in Tropicana Field. In the series finale, James Shields pitched a complete game 2-hit, no walk shutout and was named AL Player of the Week. Evan Longoria was originally cut from the 25-man roster in Spring Training, but was called up early into the season. He signed a contract worth $15 million over six years. Longoria would quickly become a fan favorite by being one of the team's more productive players throughout the season.
The Rays continued their winning ways into May. At the end of play on Memorial Day, the traditional 1/4 point of the baseball season, the Rays were in first place in the AL East and owned the best record in all of major league baseball at 31-20. The Rays became the first team in modern Major League history (since 1900) to hold the best record in the league through Memorial Day, having the worst record in the league the year before. This was, by far, the best start in franchise history and marked the first time ever that the team was 11 games over .500. The Rays finished the month 12 games over .500, had the best record in the American League, and led the AL East by one game.
In June, incidents over the course of two consecutive games led to a benches clearing brawl against the Boston Red Sox increasing hostility between the two teams, which was also fueled by a tight division race between them. Carlos Pena was out for three weeks with a fractured left index finger. The Rays went 16-10 for the month of June, sporting an overall record of 50-32, were 18 games over .500 for the first time in franchise history, and led the division by 1½ games.
Within the first week of July the Rays stretched their division lead to 5½ games, but then lost seven consecutive games heading into the All-Star Break. Trailing the Red Sox for the division lead by ½ game, they still led the Wild Card. Scott Kazmir and Dioner Navarro were selected to play in the All-Star Game. Evan Longoria was voted into the roster by the fans in the Final Vote. This was the most players the Rays had ever sent to the All-Star Game. In another franchise first, Longoria was a participant in the Home Run Derby, but was eliminated in the first round hitting only three home runs, the least of all competitors.
After going 13-12 during the month of July, the Rays, with a 63-44 record, held a division lead of 3 games over the Boston Red Sox. The Rays did not make any deals prior to the Trade deadline. Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations, Andrew Friedman, would stress that despite no trade activity, the Rays organization had confidence in the players that had given them the best record in the division at the conclusion of July.
The Rays' turnaround has been mostly credited to much improved defense and pitching, especially from the bullpen.  While the 2007 bullpen and defense were historically bad, stats for 2008 were among the best in the majors.
On July 26, 2010 Matt Garza threw the RAYS first ever no-hitter against the Detroit Tigers.
Season records[edit | edit source]
|Tampa Bay Rays - 1998 to 2010*|
|Season||W - L||Win %||Finish||Manager||Playoffs|
|1998||63-99||.389||5th in AL East||Larry Rothschild||-|
|1999||69-93||.426||5th in AL East||Larry Rothschild||-|
|2000||69-92||.429||5th in AL East||Larry Rothschild||-|
|2001||62-100||.383||5th in AL East||Larry Rothschild/Hal McRae||-|
|2002||55-106||.342||5th in AL East||Hal McRae||-|
|2003||63-99||.389||5th in AL East||Lou Piniella||-|
|2004||70-91||.435||4th in AL East||Lou Piniella||-|
|2005||67-95||.414||5th in AL East||Lou Piniella||-|
|2006||61-101||.377||5th in AL East||Joe Maddon||-|
|2007||66-96||.407||5th in AL East||Joe Maddon||-|
|2008 •||65-44||.596||TBD||Joe Maddon||1st Place|
|||[84 - 78]||[Joe Maddon]|
|||[96 - 66]||[.592]||[Joe Maddon]||1st place|
Rivals[edit | edit source]
Tampa Bay's primary rivals are the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees. The rivalries from these teams stem from the number of fans in the Tampa Bay area who are transplants from these two locations and continue to root for these teams, as well as the Yankees making Tampa their Spring Training home. Red Sox and Yankee games often draw considerably higher attendance figures to games at Tropicana Field versus the average for other games, the result being a fan bias for these teams on the road. The Florida Marlins are also a rival due to their in-state proximity, though this rivalry is only really visited upon in the Interleague period each season.
Quick facts[edit | edit source]
- Founded: 1998 (American League expansion)
- Home ballpark: Tropicana Field
- Uniform colors: White, RAYS Navy Blue, RAYS Light Blue, Gold
- Logo design: The word "Rays" in a baseball diamond
- Mascot: A six-foot, six-inch (198 cm) seadog named "Raymond"
- Playoff appearances (2): 2008, 2010
- A.L. East Champions: 2008, 2010
- Owner: Stuart Sternberg, et al.
- President: Matthew Silverman
- Executive VP of Baseball Operations (de facto General Manager): Andrew Friedman
- Manager: Joe Maddon
- Local Television: FSN Florida, Sunsports
- Spring Training Facility: Progress Energy Park, St. Petersburg, FL (until 2009); Port Charlotte, Florida (2009-present)
Retired numbers[edit | edit source]
The Tampa Bay Rays have retired two numbers. These numbers are displayed to the left of the center field scoreboard and "K Counter" on a small wall.
Jackie Robinson's number 42 was retired by all of Major League Baseball.
Current roster[edit | edit source]
Tampa Bay Rays Roster[edit | edit source]
Environmental record[edit | edit source]
The Tampa Bay Rays continue to become more and more environmentally aware. For the 2008 season, the team changed their colors to a Columbia blue; although this is minor, the team continues to go "green". "Teaming Up for the Environment," is the Rays' new program which initiates more environmental actions. The Rays have purchased 646 green tags which are credits for renewable energy supplied by the Bonneville Environmental Foundation. These tags are presumed to offset some of the carbon dioxide emissions produced from traveling fans and all energy used at their home ball park, Tropicana Field.  The "green" home games consist of five home games and the home-opener against the Seattle Mariners played on April 8, 2008.  In addition, the Rays plan to get an LEED Certification for their proposed new stadium. 
Franchise leaders[edit | edit source]
Radio and television[edit | edit source]
As of 2007, the Rays' flagship radio station is WDAE 620 AM. The announcers are Dave Wills and Andy Freed. Rich Herrera is the pregame and postgame host, and the radio producer. This team replaced Paul Olden and Charlie Slowes as of the 2005 season. Slowes went to the Washington Nationals, while Olden pursued a photography career. From 1998 through 2004, Rays games were on WFLA 970 AM.
The main television broadcaster is FSN Florida, although several games also air on ION Television affiliate broadcast stations throughout the state of Florida, with WXPX in Tampa as the flagship. Previously, Rays games aired on local affiliates such as WMOR and WTSP in Tampa, WRDQ in Orlando, and WFXU in Tallahassee. Dewayne Staats (play-by-play) and Joe Magrane (color commentary) have been the TV team since the Rays' inception. A more recent addition to the telecasts is Todd Kalas, the son of Philadelphia legend Harry Kalas, who serves as the pregame and postgame host as well as a field reporter during games. Todd also hosts magazine shows and specials on FSN Florida throughout the season. Dick Crippen and Whit Watson have both filled in for Todd Kalas in the past.
FSN produces all local game telecasts, regardless of which outlet they are shown on. In 2007, about 1/4 of the schedule was aired in HD. At least 58 games will be aired locally in HD in 2008. In total, 144 games will be aired on local broadcasts in 2008: 66 on ION, 82 on FSN Florida, and two exclusively on Sun Sports during the interleague series with the Florida Marlins.
Although Rays games can be seen throughout Florida where available without blackout, FSN Florida games cannot be seen on the Bright House Networks affiliate for the Orlando, Florida, area, since that cable system does not carry FSN Florida. Only games carried by WOPX are shown on Bright House in Orlando, but they do not carry the channel in HD. Comcast in Orlando does have both WOPX and FSN Florida, but carries neither channel in HD. DirecTV and Dish Network also carry FSN Florida, and DirecTV occasionally carries FSN Florida's HD games.
Rays fandom[edit | edit source]
Although attendance has lagged in recent years, the Rays are not without some spirited fans.
The Happy Heckler[edit | edit source]
"The Happy Heckler" is a fan by the name of Robert Szasz, a Clearwater real estate developer. He has season tickets near home plate, and is known for his rather boisterous heckling. He is so loud that he is clearly audible on both TV and radio broadcasts. He is also known as an "ethical" heckler, heckling opposing players only based on their play and never throwing personal insults. Despite this, he has drawn the ire of some opposing players. He is especially known for heckling Bret Boone so viciously once that Boone confronted him after a strikeout.
More Cowbell[edit | edit source]
The Rays Cowbell, a fan item similar to the Terrible Towel, was originally a promotional idea thought up by principal owner Stuart Sternberg, who got the idea from the Saturday Night Live sketch. Since then, it has become a standard feature of home games. Road teams have often considered the cowbell a nuisance. Once a year the Rays hold an annual "cowbell night" and give away free cowbells. Cowbells are available for purchase throughout the year as well. The most famous proponent of the cowbell is Cary Strukel, who is known as "The Cowbell Kid." Strukel can be seen at most home games sitting in right field and wearing some kind of costume, typically topped with a neon colored wig or viking horns. The cowbells are rung most prominently when the opposing batter has two strikes, when the opposing fans try to chant, and when the Rays make a good play.
Professional wrestlers[edit | edit source]
Rays games are frequently visited by professional wrestlers, as there are a large number of wrestlers living in the Tampa Bay Area. The Nasty Boys (Brian Knobbs and Jerry Sags), Brutus Beefcake, and Hulk Hogan all appear on a semi-regular basis at Rays games. John Cena appears on occasion.
The Rays held a "Legends of Wrestling Night" on May 18, 2007, featuring several wrestling matches after the game, an 8-4 loss to the Florida Marlins. Outfielder and wrestling fan Jonny Gomes ran interference for the Nasty Boys during the main event.
Minor league affiliations[edit | edit source]
- AAA: Durham Bulls, International League
- AA: Montgomery Biscuits, Southern League
- Advanced A: Charlotte Stone Crabs, Florida State League
- A: Bowling Green Hot Rods, South Atlantic League
- Short A: Hudson Valley Renegades, New York-Penn League
- Rookie: Princeton Rays, Appalachian League
Notable former players[edit | edit source]
- Roberto Alomar - 2B
- Danys Baez - P
- Wade Boggs - 3B
- José Canseco - OF/DH
- Vinny Castilla - 3B
- Elijah Dukes - OF
- Dwight Gooden - P
- Ben Grieve - OF
- Juan Guzmán - P
- Aubrey Huff - 3B/OF
- Joe Kennedy - P
- Cory Lidle - P
- Fred McGriff - 1B
- Jim Morris - P
- Hideo Nomo - P
- Rey Ordonez - SS
- Victor Zambrano - P
- Greg Vaughn - OF
- Gerald Williams - OF
- Delmon Young - OF
- Jason Tyner - OF
See also[edit | edit source]
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References[edit | edit source]
- The Official Site of The Tampa Bay Rays: Official Info: Time to shine: Rays introduce new name, new icon, new team colors and new uniforms
- Topkin, Marc (1999-08-08). 3000!. St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved on 2007-06-18.
- Topkin, Marc (2005-11-04). Sternberg presents winning combination. St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved on 2007-06-18.
- Rays Touch Tank. Retrieved on 2007-06-18.
- Ted Williams Museum. Retrieved on 2007-06-18.
- Shelton, Gary (2006-04-11). Something old is new again. St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved on 2007-06-27.
- Chastain, Bill (2006-05-09). Young regrets bat-tossing incident. MLB.com. Retrieved on 2007-06-18.
- Cristodero, Damian (2007-06-21). Gathright gets a fresh start. St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved on 2007-06-27.
- Topkin, Marc (2006-06-28). Rays get young catcher. St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved on 2007-06-27.
- Cristodero, Damian (2006-07-20). Jays may have eyes on Lugo. St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved on 2007-06-27.
- Cristodero, Damian (2006-07-13). Bye-bye Aubrey. St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved on 2007-06-27.
- Topkin, Marc (2006-08-01). Lugo trade adds muscle to system. St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved on 2007-06-27.
- Cristodero, Damian (2006-08-25). Rays trade Branyan for Class-A pitcher. St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved on 2007-06-27.
- Topkin, Marc (2006-09-16). Biscuits secure Southern League title. St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved on 2007-06-27.
- Topkin, Marc (2006-10-01). Rays year in review. St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved on 2007-06-18.
- Mayo, Jonathan (2006-10-26). Devil Rays lose bright prospect. MLB.com. Retrieved on 2007-06-18.
- Devil Rays obtain negotiating rights to Iwamura. Associated Press (2006-11-15). Retrieved on 2007-06-18.
- Devil Rays sign Iwamura for three years. Associated Press (2006-12-18). Retrieved on 2007-06-18.
- Series will be first regular-season games in Orlando. Associated Press (2006-12-14). Retrieved on 2007-06-18.
- Time to shine: Rays introduce new name, new icon, new team colors and new uniforms
- Rays: Payroll will rise; question is, how much?
- The Official Site of The Tampa Bay Rays: Official Info: Time to shine: Rays introduce new name, new icon, new team colors and new uniforms
- Rays: Rays deliver new pitch: We Are One Team
- Cot's Baseball Contracts compendium
- Fitt, Aaron. "Price's excellence almost defies words", Baseball America, 2007-06-15. Retrieved on 2007-06-30.
- The Official Site of The Tampa Bay Rays: News: Rays get right man behind their corner
- AP/Yahoo! News: Tampa Bay Rays reveal financing plan for waterfront stadium
- Breaking News | tampabay.com - St. Petersburg Times and tbt*
- The Official Site of Major League Baseball: News: New-look Rays want a new stadium
- Stadium Plan Delayed Indefinitely
- The Official Site of The Tampa Bay Rays: Tickets: Orlando Series
- The Official Site of The Tampa Bay Rays: News: Tampa Bay Rays News
- Front office believes current Rays can carry on
- Rays' Turnaround Can Be Attributed To Better Defense
- ESPN - Improved bullpen big reason Rays have high hopes - MLB
- http://www.bizjournals.com/tampabay/stories/2008/04/07/daily42.html Rays buy carbon credits from Bonneville Environmental Foundation] bizjournals.com-Tampa Bay Business Journal 10 April 2008 retrieved 30 April 2008
- Bonneville Environmental Foundation and Tampa Bay Rays Bring New Power to Major League Baseball Portland Daily Business News 8 April 2008 retrieved 30 April 2008
- Tampa Bay Rays, Hines, to Develop LEED-Certified Ballpark on St. Petersburg Waterfront 30 November 2007 retrieved 12 May 2008
- Frank Pastor (2003-08-06). The Gentleman Heckler. Retrieved on 2008-05-12.
- Fire Brand of the American League | MVN - A Boston Red Sox blog | Analyzing the Olde Towne Team since 2003 » Blog Archive » Rays Emerging Quickly
- Rays fans will be there with bells on - St. Petersburg Times
- The Official Site of The Tampa Bay Rays: News: Notes: Gomes enjoys Wrestling Night
- The Official Site of The Tampa Bay Rays: News: 'Wrestling Night' returns to The Trop