ST. PETERSBURG -- Coming up with a team name for an expansion team is no easy task. The owner of the team eventually has the final say, but a lot of pressure comes from that decision. There’s pressure from the fan base to get it right, and there’s pressure from
ST. PETERSBURG -- Coming up with a team name for an expansion team is no easy task. The owner of the team eventually has the final say, but a lot of pressure comes from that decision. There’s pressure from the fan base to get it right, and there’s pressure from the people involved with the team, as everyone has an idea of what the name should be.
That was exactly the case when the Rays’ ownership group had to come up with a team name in the late 1990s.
Originally, Tampa Bay ownership wanted to name the team the Tampa Bay Stingrays, but there was a problem with that name: it was already taken. As the idea started to come to fruition, the team was informed that the name was already trademarked by a winter league team in Hawaii.
Instead of trying to fight their way into getting the Stingrays name, team ownership decided to go in another direction, going with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
Though the "Devil" part of the name was because of the rays found in the Tampa Bay area, some people had issues with the word in the team’s name. After nearly a decade as the Devil Rays, and countless phone calls pleading with the team to change the name, the team's new ownership, led by current owner Stuart Sternberg, decided that it was best to change the name to the Tampa Bay Rays. That change happened after the 2007 season.
Interestingly enough, however, the nickname is a reference to the rays of sunshine in Florida (which is also known as the Sunshine State) and not just the fish. The Rays’ current burst logo represents that, but the team also doesn’t shy away from the fish, either, as the Rays Touch Tank in right-center field is one of the most popular attractions at Tropicana Field.
Juan Toribio covers the Dodgers for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @juanctoribio.