It took two long grueling seasons for the Devil Rays to finally adopt the #1 and place it on a jersey. The first player to don the new number, Miguel Cairo.
Miguel Cairo had spent the previous two years serving in the Devil Rays infield, switching numbers both years (#20 in 1998 and #13 in 1999). He went through spring training in 2000 though, still occupying the possessing the #13 on his back, but on April 5th, the Devil Rays signed Ozzie Guillen, who had worn the #13 all of his career. So, Cairo being the gentleman that he is, switched to the newly adopted #1 and allowed Guillen to take the #13.
Cairo had a down year in 2000, slashing .261/.314/.328 with 1 HR and then a club record, 28 stolen bases in 119 games. He spent the first couple months of the season as the team's starting second baseman, but Bobby Smith's promotion relegated him to a spot on the bench. He'd be released following the season, but he was the last original Devil Rays to retire (having retired in 2013).
the #1 went un-stitched on a Devil Rays jersey for the next two years, until Tampa Bay's 2002 allstar, Randy Winn was dealt to the Seattle Mariners.
Antonio Perez was acquired on October 28th, 2002 along with the rights to negotiate with Manager extraordinaire, Lou Pinella (who eventually signed). He immediately became the team's 8th best prospect, according to Baseball America.
He'd make his major league debut on May 14th, 2003 as a pinch runner. He'd record his first career hit the next night, then be sent down after about a week.
Perez was back with the Devil Rays for good towards the end of June and did decently in his limited playing time. In ,248/.345/.360 with 2 homers and 4 stolen bases. After failing to make Devil Rays roster out of spring training in 2004, Perez was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Jason Romano, relinquishing the #1 (he actually had already surrendered the number at start of spring training).
On December 19th, 2003 the Devil Rays signed journeyman infielder, Rey Sanchez. He started the season as the team's starting second baseman, usually batting in the ninth spot in the order. In June, he delivered one of the Devil Rays most memorable wins when he hit a walkoff inside-the-park home run on June 11th, 2004.
That would be the high point of Sanchez's season as he hit over .300 during that month, but he eventually lost his starting spot with the emergence of Jorge Cantu. He would finish the season having slashed .246/.281/.337 with 2 home runs and a stolen base in 91 games. Sanchez would become a free agent after the season.
The Devil Rays selected Joey Gathright back on June 5th, 2001 in the 32nd round of the annual draft. He'd become a fan favorite when a video surfaced of him cleanly jumping over a car in 2002.
He made his major league debut in 2004, but only played in 19 games. In 2005, he was one of the last players reassigned to Durham, but then on April 3rd, Alex Sanchez became the first player to be suspended for PED usage in the major leagues.
His suspension opened the door for Gathright to be the Devil Rays starting center fielder on opening day (this is also when Gathright adopted the #1 jersey). He'd be optioned back to Durham once Sanchez 10 games suspension was over.
Gathright would rejoin the team in the beginning of July and provide a very solid season in which he accumulated 2.3 WAR and also slashed .276/.316/.340 without a homer, but had 20 stolen bases in 76 games.
The following season, Gathright switched to the #4 and was traded mid-season, along with Fernando Cortez for J.P. Howell.
The #1 was left vacant in 2006, but on December 15th the Devil Rays won the right to sign Akinori Iwamura, which they eventually did. Iwamura was a perennial gold glove winner in Japan, and he became the Devil Rays starting third baseman in 2007.
He was off to an excellent start that year, before suffering an oblique strain towards the end of April. He'd return a month later and go on to have a solid season, accumulating 2.2 WAR and slashing .285/.359/.411 with 7 homers and 12 stolen bases in 123 games.
In 2008, Iwamura happily moved over to second to allow top prospect, Evan Longoria to take over at the hot corner. Iwamura made the transition seemlessly as he and Jason Bartlett formed a dominant duo up the middle. Joe Maddon placed him at the top of his lineup and Iwamura served as a catalyst for the Rays, as they soared atop the AL East and into the postseason for the first time in team history.
Iwamura will forever be remembered in Rays lure as he recorded the final of the dramatic 2008 ALCS when Jed Lowrie hit a hard groundball right to him at second. Though it took a tricky hop, the sure handed Iwamura played it cleanly, raced to the bag and initiated a wild celebration with the rest of his teammates.
Even though the Rays lost the world series that year, it was at that point that teams realized they were no longer a permanent fixture in the dungeon of the AL East.
In 2009, Iwamura was off to perhaps the best season of his career when an unfortunate mishap occured with the Marlins' Chris Coghlan. Iwamura would have to be carried off the field on a stretcher. The original prognosis said that he'd be out for the season, but Iwamura beat the odds and returned at the end of August. Unfortunately he was now a different player and although he did do decently in his return, the Rays traded Iwamura to the Pirates for Jesse Chavez in December. They'd immediately flip Chavez to the Braves for Rafael Soriano.
Sean Rodriguez was acquired by the Rays in the Scott Kazmir trade towards the end of the 2009 season. Rodriguez would spend the entire 2010 season after completely dominating in spring training. I know spring training numbers don't matter, but these are fun to look at. He slashed .460/.500/.873 with 6 homers in 63 at bats.
In 2011, it became evident that Rodriguez would need to be platooned against lefties in order to be effective. Rodriguez also set a new team record for times hit by a pitch (18), one of which came during the dramatic 8th inning of game 162. Rodriguez would also be responsible for a memorable moment during the dreadful 2011 ALDS, when Matt Joyce hit a double to the right-center field gap. Rodriguez hustling all the way from first, came charging down the third base line and bulldozed Napoli, dislodging the ball from his mitt.
In 2012, Rodriguez went through a tough year with an occasional hot streak. Evan Longoria was injured in May, so Rodriguez was received a lot more playing time covering the majority of the infield, but he failed to strongly contribute. He'd optioned to Durham in August and broke his hand after a punching a locker that'd sideline him for a month.
In 2013 and 2014 Rodriguez had decent year, adding the outfield to his defensive repertoire. In 2014, Rodriguez had more than half of his hits go for extra bases. Despite the improved power, Rodriguez's on-base numbers was the worst in his career. He'd be due for a raise in 2015, so the Rays traded him last December to the Pirates for Buddy Borden.
After being selected with the first pick of the 2008 draft Tim Beckham, has finally made his first opening day roster. After several long ridicule filled years, he's finally in a position to be a productive part of the team. With several injuries to key players, Beckham has a place on the team and may possibly do well enough to keep his spot on the team when Nick Franklin returns from the disabled list.
Here are the totals of all of the players in franchise history to play while wearing the #1. (As of Opening Day, 2015)