The Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays opened their inaugural campaign on March 31, 1998, at Tropicana Field against the Detroit Tigers. Four Hall of Famers — Monte Irvin, Al Lopez, Stan Musial and Ted Williams — threw out the ceremonial first pitches before a capacity crowd.
The Rays lost to the Tigers 11-6 and capacity crowds would be few and far between after that opening game. Tampa Bay finished in last place in the AL East in nine of its first 10 MLB seasons. But the Rays made it all the way to the World Series in 2008 and have been consistent playoff contenders since then. Although we wouldn’t exactly consider the Trop the “Ballpark of the 21st Century.”