ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Next March will mark 25 years since the Tampa Bay area was first awarded a Major League Baseball team.
The Bay area fought hard to bring a team here for years with the While Sox, Mariners and San Francisco Giants all considering moves. The region built a stadium and then was passed over by Major League Baseball when they awarded expansion teams to Colorado and Miami.
Then finally on March 9, 1995, Major League Baseball awarded another set of expansion teams and this time, the Bay area was awarded a brand new team.
The face of the franchise and the man who helped make it happen was owner Vincent Naimoli. And while nearly every seat was packed that opening series, the Rays first 10 seasons would be filled with lots of losses and disappointment.
It wasn’t until 2008 when the Rays shocked the baseball world, winning the American League and went on to their first World Series.
Naimoli died Monday at the age of 81.
Since the Rays' high points, there have been plenty of magical moments and there are still plenty of fans who love the Rays.
But the excitement over having a team has somewhat faded since that first celebration in 1995.
The question now: Can the Bay area revive its excitement and support for the Rays to help ensure baseball in the Bay area can survive long after Vince Naimoli is gone?
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