The devil is in the details when it comes to the Rays’ throwback jerseys.
They’re more kaleidoscope than uniform, drenched in a sea of color. It’s a style that has gone increasingly out of trend in recent years, replaced by strips with minimalist features that lack the livelihood and vigor of the kits of our youth.
But Tampa Bay is attempting to buck that trend. For when Randy Arozarena and Co. take the diamond in their sparkling polychromatic outfits, the sports world takes notice.
Devil ???? Rays ???? Dub pic.twitter.com/LdIucDVS9i
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) August 21, 2021
MORE: Sporting News experts make picks for 2023 postseason bracket, World Series
Here’s what you need to know about the “Devil” Rays throwback uniforms.
Devil Rays uniforms, explained
Much like their stadium, the Rays’ regular home and away jerseys often leave something to be desired. The blues are murky, the grays dull. It can leave a sour taste in onlookers’ eyes, especially when caught in the sickly glare of the Tropicana Stadium light fixtures.
But it hasn’t always been that way. For when the franchise first was in its infancy, it had a special preference for color.
In 1998, Tampa revealed the masterpiece: an Anne Ochi-designed pearl of a uniform which featured the words “Devil Rays” in luminous lighting. The team’s name was accompanied by a stingray which underlined the wording.
Did someone say expansion draft? pic.twitter.com/pCfgLuc07j
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) June 22, 2017
The details were scrawled on the back of the shirt, too; player’s names and numbers were shrouded in a royal shade of purple. It was a far cry from the more simplistic shirts that outfitted the majority of big league sides at that time.
The jersey wouldn’t last two long. By the end of the 2000 season, it had ran its course. But its impact would live on in the hearts of then-Devil Rays fans over the years.
MORE: Brothers Josh, Nathaniel Lowe face off in Rays-Rangers playoff series
Perhaps it was because it reminded spectators of a time of elegant simplicity for the franchise. The Rays were not particularly good during that period; their high-water mark in wins during the period was 69 in 1999 and 2000.
But it was a lovable team filled with players who swirled in the minds of the youth. Guys like Rolando Arroyo, Albie Lopez and Hall of Famer Fred McGriff played with a certain level of joy that was infectious throughout the locker room.
— MLB (@MLB) December 5, 2022
As such, when Tampa opted to bring the kits back during the 2018 season, the fanbase’s support was vociferous.
The colorful costume was parked in the years following. But in 2021, the franchise announced its return. The Rays have since sported the shirt with increasing regularity, dressing themselves in it for every Friday home game during the 2023 regular season.
Did the Devil Rays make the playoffs?
In brief: not even close. That iteration was consistently one of the worst teams in the majors, but Tampa Bay’s fortunes changed instantly when the franchise dropped the “Devil” to rebrand simply as the Rays for 2008 and promptly reached the World Series.
|Devil Rays (1998-2007)||645-972 (.399)||0|
|Rays (2008-Present)||1,366-1,125 (.548)||9|
Now, the Devil Rays will get their turn in the limelight.
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) October 3, 2023
MLB just got that much more colorful. Long may it continue.