Tampa Bay Rays: When Stu Sternberg exorcised the “devil” from the name

We look back at why the Tampa Bay Rays dropped the “devil” from their name and how they’ve performed since.

In light of the NFL’s Washington Redskins announcing they are retiring the “Redskins” name and logo in favor of a mascot to be named later, we take a look back at when the Tampa Bay Rays changed their look and it sparked a winner.

Tampa Bay Rays – Why did the Rays change their name?

When majority owner Stuart Sternberg implemented the change in uniforms for the franchise, he wanted to leave behind their miserable past. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays debuted in 1998 and had a miserable win-loss record of 645-972 through their first 20 seasons.

Sternberg took over as managing general partner of the organization prior to the 2006 season. A name change had been on his mind for a while, but he didn’t want to rush into a bad decision.

Sternberg told ESPN of his desire to leave behind the franchise’s legacy of losing.

“We were tied to the past, and the past wasn’t necessarily something we wanted to be known for.”

He said that he had actually hoped the team would be ready for their transformation prior to the 2007 season, but patience paid off as the Rays entered 2008 with a promising roster.

“I think it worked out well this way because I feel really confident that the team’s performance on the field next year is going to take a very giant step forward.”

Once the team exorcised the “devil” from their name, they not only looked like a serious baseball team but they played like one.

In the first season of the new look, the franchise set the tone for the future by marching all the way to the World Series so the whole nation could get a gander at the sharp new threads and a new attitude.

As the Devil Rays, the team posted a .399 winning percentage with no postseason appearances.

Since then, the Rays have posted a .535 winning percentage with five postseason appearances and one pennant.