Colors and nicknames have long been used by sports teams as a means of identifying themselves. There are many examples of this type of symbolism throughout history, including in heraldry and the military, and in state and national flags.
At an early stage in the sport’s growth, teams began to refer to themselves by their nicknames. Some clubs didn’t think they needed a moniker.
As a result of the American Civil War (1861-1865), many hundreds of small organized baseball teams were formed, many of which were affiliated with the new National Association for Base Ball Players (NABBP), sometimes known as “the amateur association,” from 1857 through 1870. These were commonly referred to as the club’s “nickname” because of their official name.
The team’s nicknames have evolved over time, and some are still in use today, while others have fallen out of favor. All of the “classic 8” NL teams of 1900-1952 had unofficial nicknames at the time. Unofficial nicknames may be accepted by the team and become official if they grow popular enough.
By 1901, when the American League was formed, this practice had already gained traction, with four of the league’s eight clubs utilizing official team names from the outset.
Why are Tampa Bay Rays called by these nicknames?
THE DEVIL RAYS:
The Tampa Bay Devil Rays were chosen over the Stingrays by the team’s owners rather than a legal battle to keep the Stingray’s nickname. There were a few people who objected to the usage of “Devil” in the name, even if it was due to the abundance of rays that can be seen around Tampa Bay, Florida.
When Vince Naimoli sold his controlling stake in the team to Stuart Sternberg two years prior, Sternberg altered the team’s name from “Devil Rays” to “Ray,” which now refers to a flash of sunshine rather than manta rays, however, an image of manta rays remains on the sleeves of the team’s jerseys.
Some individuals objected to the term “Devil” being in the team’s name, despite the fact that it was inspired by the rays prevalent in the Tampa Bay region.
A name change to Tampa Bay Rays was finally approved by the team’s new ownership, overseen by current owner Stuart Sternberg, after nearly a decade as the Devil Rays and innumerable phone calls appealing with the organization to do so. After the 2007 season, things changed.