Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Before the Devil Rays
The Tampa Bay/St. Petersburg area made many attempts to acquire a baseball team before receiving the Devil Rays in the 1998 expansion. The main obstacles were city infighting and the lack of a stadium. That changed with the building of the state-of-the-art Suncoast Dome in 1986. The dome was built without any notification of receiving a team (Major League Baseball recommended highly against it), and was solely meant to attract an existing team. Soon, teams started to look in to moving to the area, the first being the Chicago White Sox, who but for a last minute action by the Illinois Legislature were heading to St. Petersburg. The Seattle Mariners also looked at the area.
The 1993 expansion, the first in more than a decade, brought out interest from the area. Too much, it turned out. St. Petersburg fielded a group, expecting to be a lock until a competing group from Tampa also showed up. Not helping matters was a bid by Wayne Huizenga for a team in Miami. Not wanting two Florida teams, and faced with a strong bid from Denver, the league bypassed the Bay Area and took Huizenga's bid. Adding salt to the wound, Huizenga named the Miami team the Florida Marlins.
Another shot at baseball came when the San Francisco Giants were for sale, and a group wanted to move them to St. Petersburg. A press conference was announced, uniforms were drawn up, and tickets were about to be printed. However, at the last minute, the team was sold to a local San Francisco group. Many were bitter, especially at Huizenga, who voted against the move. A local boycott on Blockbuster Video stores lasted for years. Angry at MLB about the Giants, group leader Vince Naimoli threatened a lawsuit. In fear, baseball decided to have another expansion, this time admitting Naimoli's group and a group from Arizona.
So, the Dome was finally occupied. But, to stay current, it needed more than $70 million US from the city in renovations. The Dome that had built 3 other teams' new stadiums was now out of date. And, in a biting irony, the team that was supposed to put St. Petersburg on the map was named...Tampa Bay. Many never forgave the team.
From their inception in 1998, the Devil Rays have yet to be major contenders, finishing in last place in the American League East every year from 1998 to 2003. In 2003, the team signed manager Lou Piniella, a proven manager who helped the Seattle Mariners become competitive in the mid-1990s. Expectations were low for the team entering the 2004 season, but the team surprised most baseball experts by compiling a 42-41 record (.506) in their first 83 games, staying within 5 games for the American League wild card, a remarkable feat considering the team was 18 games below .500 at one point. However, the team soon returned to its losing ways, finishing the 2004 season with a record of 70-91, the best in team history, and in 4th place in the American League East, also a team best. One of their best players has been recent Hall of Fame inductee Wade Boggs, who became the first MLB player to have his 3,000th hit be a home run while with the Devil Rays.
After setbacks in the 2005 season that left them again last place in the division, and tired of what he felt was a non commitment to winning now by the ownership group, Lou Piniella agreed to a buy out of the last year of his contract. However, there was some positives in the situation, as the team went on a tear after the All-Star Break, leaving them above .500 for the remainder of the season. They finished 67-95 overall, making them 39-34 since the All-Star Break after a 28-61 start. The Rays continued to play spoilers in the second half, with a winning record, and timely victories over contenders such as the New York Yankees, Cleveland Indians, and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
The team may have also set the tone for future contention with the play of young stars and up and coming playes such as outfielders Carl Crawford, Jonny Gomes, Infielder Jorge Cantu (who hit 28 home runs and drove in 117 runs) and pitcher Scott Kazmir (who finished in the top 5 in the American League in strikeouts). In 2006, the Rays also should have centerfielder Rocco Baldelli back, who missed the 2005 season with injuries, along with super prospects Delmon Young and BJ Upton. The next manager has tools to work with provided the new ownership group and managing general partner Stuart Sternberg spends the money necessary for the team to contend.
Immediately after the season ended, Stuart Sternberg, who led a consortium of buyers to purchase majority stake from Vince Naimoli's group, took over as managing general partner of the team. He immediately fired General Manager Chuck LaMar and most of the front office. Matt Silverman was named as team president, and Andrew Friedman took the role of Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations. Gerry Hunsicker, former General Manager of the Houston Astros, has taken over as Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations, and will advise Friedman. Sternberg has decided not to have a de jure General Manager, calling the position "outdated", and Friedman and Hunsicker will share that role at MLB functions. 
Further hires in the front office, and a manager to replace Lou Piniella, will be announced soon. Among the finalists is Bobby Valentine, who managed the Chiba Lotte Marines of the Japanese Pacific League to the 2005 Japan Series championship.
Although Sternberg has committed to keeping the team in Tampa Bay, rumors have begun to surface that he may change the name of the team in the near future. 
The chosen theme for the 2006 season is "Rebuilding the Dream".
- Founded: 1998 (American League expansion)
- Home ballpark: Tropicana Field
- Uniform colors: Black, Forest Green, and White
- Logo design: The letters "TB" superimposed on a devil ray (manta ray)
- Playoff appearances (0): none
- Current Owner: Stuart Sternberg, et al.
- Current Manager: In transition (formerly Lou Piniella)
- Current General Manager: Position Eliminated by Owner (the position is currently filled at MLB functions by Andrew Friedman and Gerry Hunsicker)
Minor league affiliations
- AAA: Durham Bulls, International League
- AA: Montgomery Biscuits, Southern League
- Advanced A: Visalia Oaks, California League
- A: Southwest Michigan Devil Rays, Midwest League
- Short A: Hudson Valley Renegades, New York-Penn League
- Rookie: Princeton Devil Rays, Appalachian League
- Devils award winners and league leaders
- Devils statistical records and milestone achievements
- Devils players of note
- Devils broadcasters and media
- Devils managers and ownership