While St. Petersburg, Florida, has been an MLB spring training hot spot for decades, it wasn’t until 1995 that MLB awarded the city with a franchise of its own. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays, as the team was called then, joined the Arizona Diamondbacks as the 13th and 14th expansion teams in Major League history. The team was then placed in the American League East in 1997 and began to play in 1998.
A Short But Vibrant History
While the franchise struggled during its first 10 seasons, finishing last in all but one season, public interest was strong. Fan interest was bolstered by the signing of future Hall of Famer Wade Boggs, in addition to peppering the rest of the brand new lineup using the expansion draft and signing other free agents.
The team became known as the Tampa Bay Rays before the 2008 season, which also happened to be the franchise’s first winning season. The Rays rattled off 97 wins and made their way to the World Series, where they ultimately fell to the Phillies. While the Rays are a young franchise, they still have fielded some iconic players who have become household names. Evan Longoria and Kevin Kiermaier still play in St. Pete, while other stars – such as David Price and Ben Zobrist – have gone to play elsewhere after becoming fan favorites in Tampa Bay.
Tropicana Field, Tampa Bay Rays, St. Petersburg, Florida
The Rays have played in the same stadium since their inception. Originally called the Thunderdome, Tropicana Dole Beverages North America bought naming rights, and it’s now informally called the Trop. It’s also the last fixed-dome stadium in the Majors. The four catwalks at the Trop offer unique benefits. If a ball hits the A or B ring in fair territory, it’s still considered in play, and if it nails the C or D ring in fair territory, it’s a home run. In 2016, batters knocked 199 homers, the longest off the bat of Corey Dickerson (it sailed 453 feet).
While you can’t park on the field and catch a homer that dings off the C or D ring, there are other areas where you can sit to up your chances of grabbing a souvenir. On the left field side, section 141 is a sure hot spot, but don’t overlook those that surround it, such as 139 and 143. On the right field, check out section 142, which seems to be a prime home run spot. Also, consider grabbing tickets in 144 and 140.
Are you heading to the Trop this summer? Grab your baseball glove, sit in these red-hot home run areas, and be sure to check out all the Rays gear at Fanatics.com before you root on your favorite team.