Tuesday, January 8, 2013

January 8- Tampa Bay Devil Rays

My internal research skills let me down when I had purchased this hat. By that I mean I picked this hat up under the impression that the Tampa Bay Devil Rays had actually used this hat on the field for at least a season. Sadly, this was not the case.

The reality is that this hat is a combination of a few different styles of Devil Rays hats used from their sophomore season in 1999 through the end of the 2005 season. The first clue is the logo of the upward angled Devil Ray and “TB.” This particular logo was used from 1999-2000, and only used on the all-black home cap and a purple-billed road cap. The green bill wasn’t introduced until the 2005 season as the alternate hat, along with a completely different logo featuring the leveled out “TB” and Devil Ray logo. (I’ll be posting that hat in the future. Needless to say, I was a bit disappointed after making these discoveries, but… it’s still a pretty sweet hat so I decided to have a little bit of fun with marking it.

I went through all the rosters dating back to their inaugural year in 1998 and came up with a few names and numbers. There were a few games, but a lot of the guys I pulled were worthy of being on a game style cap: Wade Boggs, Jose Canseco, Randy Winn, Aubrey Huff, Greg Vaughn, etc. But then again, there were two names/numbers that popped out...

#13- Now, I know you’re probably thinking, “13? Isn’t that Carl Crawford?” It sure is, but there was another guy who wore it for one year during the 2000 season… Ozzie Guillen. That’s right, the former Rookie of the Year from 1985, long time White Sox shortstop and manager of the 2005 White Sox squad spent his final 63 games as a player with the Devil Rays. And yes, 63 games, which is 43 games less than Felix Martinez. Who is Felix Martinez you ask? Exactly.

#35, in some ways, is a bit more obscure, but not for those who pay attention to top prospects. In 2007 the Devil Rays brought up a young, talented and very troubled outfielder by the name of Elijah Dukes. He only played 52 games for the Rays, but hit a home run in his first major league at-bat off of Carl Pavano in the 5th inning. He went on to hit his second career home run the following game. Dukes was then traded to the Nationals at the end of the season where he managed two more years as his bat went cold and knee problems hampered him. The end of the 2009 season was the last time Dukes appeared in a major league game.

Like with all of my hats, the small numbers I throw on all have interesting stories behind them. It all really depends on whether or not you want to take the time to do the research.

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