Wade Boggs hit first HR in Tampa Bay Rays’ history 22 years ago today

The Tampa Bay Rays played the very first game of their franchise on this day 22 years ago.

On this date, March 31, 1998, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays not only began their season but they began the story of their franchise. The expansion draft and spring training were both in the books. It was time for the teams to take the field.

Tampa Bay would face the Detroit Tigers in the first major-league game ever played at Tropicana Field.

Here were the starting lineups.

Tampa Bay Devil Rays Starting Lineup

  1. Quinton McCracken (CF)
  2. Miguel Cairo (2B)
  3. Wade Boggs (3B)
  4. Fred McGriff (1B)
  5. Mike Kelley (LF)
  6. Paul Sorrento (DH)
  7. John Flaherty (C)
  8. Dave Martinez (RF)
  9. Kevin Stocker (SS)

Detroit Tigers Starting Lineup

  1. Brian Hunter (CF)
  2. Bip Roberts (DH)
  3. Bobby Higginson (RF)
  4. Tony Clark (1B)
  5. Damon Easley (2B)
  6. Luis Gonzalez (LF)
  7. Joe Randa (3B)
  8. Joe Oliver (C)
  9. Billy Ripken (SS)

The starting pitchers were Wilson Alvarez for the home team and Justin Thompson for the visiting Tigers.

The game began at 5:05 p.m. with 45,369 fans in attendance. The Tigers would get to Alvarez early, strapping him with six runs in just 2.1 innings.

Wade Boggs would get the nod in the three-hole for the Rays with Fred McGriff at cleanup. Boggs was on his way to a Hall of Fame enshrinement and had already compiled 2,800 hits prior to donning the Devil Rays uniform. However, in his previous 16 years, Boggs had only posted a double-digit homer season two times. Boggs would go on to hit seven homers for the Rays in 1998. Dingers really weren’t his game, but he kicked the franchise off with a bang in 1998 when he hit the first home run in Rays’ history in the sixth inning.

Shortstop Kevin Stocker registered the first triple in franchise history. It would account for 33% of his total triples that season. It’s worth noting that Stocker finished the season with a .208 average and an OPS+ of 54. He was the player the Rays traded Bobby Abreu for after taking Abreu in the expansion draft.

Ultimately, the Rays would take their first of 99 losses of the 1998 season. The Tigers would rack up 18 hits in the 11-6 beating.