God must be a baseball fan. Either that or He was just so proud that the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team dropped the “Devil” from their name, that He provided us with absolutely picture perfect weather this weekend as the Tampa Bay Rays organization pulled out all the stops to introduce their new logo, team colors, and uniforms.
The weather was beautiful in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area this weekend. Sunny, blue skies, cool breezes, and temperatures in the 70s provided the perfect backdrop for the Rays to invite the entire Tampa Bay area out to area parks for food, games, and music. Tampa Bay Rays baseball players were on hand to sign autographs and pose for pictures while showing off the new uniforms. Said one baseball player, “It’s too clean. I can’t wait to get it dirty.”
The new logo is just another step in a transformation that has been going on for the past couple of years. Tropicana Field, the home stadium of the Tampa Bay Rays, has undergone several changes, including a new, giant-sized video board, and a tank of real sting rays in the outfield stands. The new name and logo was designed to represent rays of the sun, something we know a little bit about here in west central Florida. The Rays received a lot of criticism since their inception over the term “Devil” in their name. Many groups felt that the term glorified evilness and urged management to change the team’s name. Over the past couple of years, the team has gotten away from using their full name, opting to call themselves the Tampa Bay Rays, but the new design makes it official.
The initial party to introduce the new uniforms began in St. Petersburg’s Straub Park Thursday night, November 8, with a fashion show featuring several current Rays players and managers and past players Fred McGriff and Wade Boggs. As Rays’ staff members handed out freebies including stickers, cups, window clings, posters, and t-shirts, children played games and their parents waited for the next featured event, a concert by Kevin Costner and his band Modern West.
Modern West opened their show with a montage of exciting moments and unforgettable lines from many of Kevin Costner’s films. Costner worked his way through the crowd, fighting off hugs and kisses from his female fans, up to the stage to begin the show. With a full lineup of original songs, Costner belted out tunes for about an hour and a half, finishing the show with the only cover song of the night, “Mr. Tambourine Man.” The event finished off with a fireworks display over the bay.
The following day, on Friday, November 09, much of the events of the previous evening were repeated in Tampa’s Gaslight Park at noon. A host of Rays’ players signed autographs while Rays’ staff handed out free hot dogs and drinks and event-goers played games for prizes.
Throughout the weekend, Rays’ players made appearances at several Champs Sporting Good’s stores to sign autographs and promote merchandise featuring the new starburst logo.