Formally known as the Devil Rays, the Tampa Bay Rays played their first game on
March 31, 1998 against the Detroit Tigers. After 10-straight losing seasons, the Rays won the AL Pennant and faced the Phillies in the 2008 World Series. Their Pennant winning
victory in the AL Championship Series showed the talent the Rays had acquired through the draft and in their farm system.
In 1995 Tampa Bay was awarded a professional baseball franchise and the Devil
Rays organization was created. In 1996 the organization’s minor league team played
its first game. The first manager for the Devil Rays was Larry Rothschild who took
the position on November 7, 1997. The Devil Rays drafted their first player from
the Florida Marlins named Tony Saunders. On March 31, 1998, a crowd of 45,369
purchased Rays tickets to Tropicana field and watched the Devil Rays lose 11 – 6.
On June 11, 2006 while playing the Kansas City Royals the Rays hit into the third triple
play in major league history that required an appeal, and the first one since 1937.
During the 2008 season people who had Rays tickets saw their team have the best
home record in baseball. That year people with Rays tickets watched their team
defeat the Chicago White Sox and Boston Red Sox during the playoffs. They advanced to their first World
Series but lost in 7 games to the Philadelphia Phillies.
In 2011 fans bought Rays tickets to see them defeat the Yankees 8 – 7 in 12 innings
to advance to the playoffs. They then lost to the Texas Rangers 3 games to 1.
Fans have purchased Rays tickets to Tropicana Field and watched the Rays
since 1998. The stadium was built in the 1980s and when St. Petersburg was given a
Major League Baseball franchise, Tropicana Field received quite a few renovations.
rights were purchased by the Tropicana Products corporation.
The Rays organization announced in 2007 its desire to build a covered ballpark
so its fans could use their Rays tickets at a stadium on the St. Petersburg waterfront. In
2009 they cancelled their proposal and were considering locations in Pinellas County
The fans who purchase Rays tickets are considered a part of the Rays Republic. Their
slogan is X, representing the 10th Man.
Robert Szasz is a Rays fan who’s been given the title of “The Happy Heckler.”
He's been known to yell so loudly he is heard on both radio and television
broadcasts. He was considered a heckler with ethics, since he only criticized a
player’s performance and never used foul language or hurled insults. He wrote and
released a book called The Happy Heckler. In 2009 Szasz did not renew his season
Rays tickets. He has resumed his activities during selected games of the 2012 season.
Many professional wrestlers purchase Rays tickets and are big fans. There have
been promotions where wrestling matches have been held after games in "Legends of Wrestling Nights".
One game every year is designated as cowbell night. Free cowbells are given to
fans. They are usually rung when a batter from the opposing team has two strikes or
when the Rays make a good play.