Baseball is America’s favorite pastime, and organizations like to pay homage to the history of the game and their teams. Walking into any ballpark around the nation is like walking into the home of your closest friend. Pictures of favorite moments can be found on the walls, remembering great times from the past, while allowing you to look forward to the possibility of an exciting future. With the Tampa Bay Rays organization being only fifteen years old, the Rays have little history in their books when compared against most organizations in baseball. Despite this, walking through Tropicana Field allows fans to see history from both the Rays and Major League Baseball.
When walking into the main entrance of Tropicana Field, fans enter the rotunda at center field. Tropicana Field’s rotunda was designed with the same blueprint used for the rotunda at Ebbets Field, home of the Brooklyn Dodgers, which was built in 1913. The rotunda is a circular structure, featuring pictures of Rays players, such as James Shields, Evan Longoria, and Ben Zobrist. Fans can have their pictures taken in the rotunda or visit the Team Store just past the rotunda. The Team Store opens at 3 p.m. for night games and closes 30 minutes after a game finishes. Upon leaving the rotunda, fans enter the 100 level concourse, which extends throughout the first level of the stadium.
The rotunda at Ebbets Field. Credit: www.walteromalley.com
The rotunda at Tropicana Field, featuring pictures of Rays players. Credit: Jenna West
The Ted Williams Museum and Hitters Hall-of-Fame Museum is located on Baseball Alley of the 100 level concourse, just past the rotunda. While walking into the museum, fans are greeted by a bronze statue of Ted Williams. The museum features pictures and items from Ted Williams’ career and days in the military. A special 7,000 square foot wing in the museum displays Williams’ life decade by decade, allowing fans to learn about the great legend. One of the most prized items in the Ted Williams Museum is a baseball autographed for him by Babe Ruth. Special display cases in the museum pay tribute to the military and Japanese baseball, where Williams has had great influence on both groups. Included in the Hitters Hall-of-Fame Museum are keepsakes and photographs from the careers of Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle and many more. A 50-seat theatre is also located in the museum, where baseball movies are played during the day for patrons to enjoy. Tropicana Field became home to the Ted Williams Museum and Hitters Hall-of-Fame Museum in 2006 and is free to fans attending Rays games.
The bronze statue of Ted Williams found at Tropicana Field. Credit: www.tedwilliamsmuseum.com
As fans leave the rotunda and continue to walk around the 100 level concourse of Tropicana Field, they can reminisce about past highlights in Rays history. Pictures of iconic moments, such as the Rays’ amazing 2008 postseason run and pitcher Matt Garza’s no hitter game in 2010, are posted throughout the concourse. By taking in the sights of exciting past moments and seeing special features throughout the concourse, fans’ enthusiasm builds while they are strolling through the stadium. These features include Raymond’s Art Studio, an arts and crafts booth for children, the Custom Jersey Shop, and the Make Your Own Baseball Card booth.
What makes Tropicana Field such a wonderful place is not only the amenities found in the stadium, but also the memories that are built there. Because the Tampa Bay organization is only fifteen years old, fans have had the privilege to watch this team from its inception. Most people cannot say that about their favorite team these days. As Tropicana Field pays tribute to great moments, players, and even a stadium from the past, fans can not only take in historical sights, but they can build memories in this stadium that will last a lifetime.