Rays History


  • Major League Baseball owners officially welcome the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and Arizona Diamondbacks as the 13th and 14th expansion teams in Major League history by a vote of 28-0 and on April 17, the Devil Rays and the City of St. Petersburg agree on a 30-year lease for the team to play their home games at the ThunderDome.
  •  Sept. 26, the Devil Rays sign their first player – Adam Sisk, a 6-4 right-handed pitcher from Edison Community College in Fort Myers, Florida.


  • The Devil Rays announce they will host Spring Training in St. Petersburg in 1998 on May 7, becoming the first team in the “modern era” to host spring training in their home city. The National League’s St. Louis Cardinals will leave after training in St. Petersburg since 1946.
  • Outfielder-first baseman Paul Wilder becomes the Rays’ first ever draft pick on June 4 as the team participates in its first free agent amateur draft.
  • On June 20, the Gulf Coast League Devil Rays earn the first win in the history of the organization with a 4-3 triumph over the GCL Astros. Eighteen-year-old Jose Rodriguez from the Dominican Republic gets the win
  • Tropicana Field is born on Oct. 3.
  • Durham (NC) officially becomes the Devil Rays Triple-A franchise for 1998 as that city was awarded one of two expansion franchises for Triple-A by the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues on Nov. 21.


  • On January 16, the Major League Baseball owners, at their meetings in Phoenix, Arizona, place the Devil Rays into the American League by a vote of 28-2. The Devil Rays become the American League’s 15th franchise
  • The Devil Rays name Florida Marlins pitching coach Larry Rothschild as the club’s first manager on Nov. 7
  • Dec. 6, individual tickets for the 1998 season go on sale to the general public. Opening Day sells out in 17 minutes
  •  Dec. 9 sign free agent third baseman Wade Boggs


  • On Feb. 15, fifty-one players, including 41 pitchers, take the field at 9:35 a.m. at the Devil Rays Spring Training Complex, as the team’s first Major League Spring Training camp opens.
  • Tampa Bay wins its first Major League Spring Training game, 6-2, over visiting Kansas City. Left-hander Ryan Karp is the winner as the Rays win it with a four-run rally in the seventh inning.
  • It all begins on March 31. The Rays lose to the Detroit Tigers 11-6 in Tampa Bay’s first regular season Major League game. Hall-of-Famers Ted Williams, Stan Musial, Al Lopez and Monte Irvin throw out ceremonial first pitches.
  • April 19, the Devil Rays improve to 10-6 with a 6-0 victory at Anaheim, becoming the first expansion team ever to be four games over .500 at any point in their inaugural season.
  • June 21: Raymond, the team’s mascot, debuts prior to the Devil Rays-Red Sox game at Tropicana Field


  • On June 2, the Devil Rays select outfielder Josh Hamilton (Athens Drive HS, Raleigh, NC) with the #1 overall pick in the June draft.
  • Third baseman Wade Boggs becomes the first player to reach 3,000 hits with a home run, homering off Cleveland’s Chris Haney at Tropicana Field, on Aug. 7. and on Nov. 11 announces his retirement during a press conference at Tropicana Field, ending his Hall-of-Fame career.


  • First baseman Fred McGriff homers off Toronto’s Roy Halladay at SkyDome on Sept. 23, joining Frank Robinson as the only two players in Major League history to hit 200 home runs in both leagues.


  • Larry Rothschild, who compiled a 205-294 record in three-plus seasons as manager, is fired on April 18 and replaced by bench coach Hal McRae.


  • On April 27, Derek Lowe of the Red Sox no-hits the Rays in a 10-0 win at Fenway Park.
  •  Rookie third baseman Jared Sandberg hits two home runs in the fifth inning against the Dodgers on June 11, becoming the 39th player in Major League history to do so.
  • Despite being recalled from Triple-A Durham on May 28, Aubrey Huff finishes with a rush and leads the team in batting average (.313), home runs (23), slugging percentage (.520), and on-base percentage (.364).
  • ct. 28 the Rays give Tampa native Lou Piniella a four-year, $13 million contract to be their third manager. The Rays have to give up their only All-Star, Randy Winn, to Seattle to obtain the rights to negotiate with the Mariners.


  •  Rookie Rocco Baldelli sets the Major League record for most hits by a rookie through April with 40, surpassing Ichiro’s mark of 39 set in 2001.
  • September 3: St. Petersburg native Doug Waechter throws a complete game, two-hit shutout against Seattle in his first big league start
  • Tampa Bay outfielder Carl Crawford is awarded the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum James “Cool Papa” Bell Legacy Award for winning the AL stolen bases crown. With 55 steals, Carl became the 6th youngest to steal 50 bases in a season and the youngest since Montreal’s Tim Raines in 1981.


  • They finished in fourth place in the AL East, the first time they have not finished fifth.
  • Carl Crawford won the American League stolen base title for the second year in a row, with a team-record 59. He also hit .294 with 11 homers and 55 RBIs.


  •  A group led by Stuart Sternberg took over ownership of the franchise.
  • Current Rays Roster included: Scott Kazmir, Carl Crawford, and Jonny Gomes.



  • James Shields and Scott Kazmir. Shields finished with 12 wins and became the third pitcher in team history to reach 200 innings in a season with 215.


  • The Rays literally went from last to first in the toughest division in baseball — the American League East — and took out the White Sox and Red Sox in the playoffs to reach the World Series.
  • Five Starters: Scott Kazmir, James Shields, Matt Garza, Edwin Jackson and Andy Sonnanstine.
  • Joe Maddon was named AL Manager of the Year for guiding the club to 97 wins and the Series


  • September: B.J. Upton hits for the first cycle in Rays history.



  •  The Rays began the month nine games out of playoff contention through Sept. 3, but they managed to erase a 7-0 deficit to the Yankees in their final game of the regular season to take an 8-7 win and secure a spot in the postseason when Evan Longoria hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 12th. After winning the first game of their AL Division Series matchup with the Rangers, the Rays bowed out when they lost the next three.


  • Even though the Rays won 12 of their final 14 games to finish with a 90-72 mark in 2012, they failed to reach the playoffs for the fourth time in five years
  • David Price won the AL ERA title en route to becoming the first Rays pitcher to win the Cy Young Award
  • Fernando Rodney set the Major League record for lowest ERA all-time by a Major League reliever (minimum 50 innings pitched), passing Oakland’s Dennis Eckersley’s mark of 0.61 set in 1990.
  • Pitcher Jeremy Hellickson won a Golden Glove.





Source: Tampa Bay Rays Timeline


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