Happy 21st affiliated anniversary to the Tampa Bay Rays and Durham Bulls!
On this date in 1996, the Devil Rays were granted the Durham Bulls as their Triple-A team for the start of the 1998 season. This was great for both sides. The Bulls would be making the jump from High-a, a move the team had been trying to make for decades. And the Devil Rays, the new kids on the block, would be associated with a feeder club rich in history.
The Bulls history can be traced all the way back to 1902 with a very storied past. Among the noteworthy Bulls-related events, both joyful and tragic: the day baseball commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis rode a live bull to open their ballpark in 1926; the day in 1939 the wooden stadium burned to the ground, killing the groundskeeper; and the play of such minor league legends as Crash Davis and Nuke Laloosh. Oh, wait, that was fiction.
Since the affiliation began, almost every single star player for the Rays franchise has passed through Durham with way too many notables to name. Here is a complete of all the major leaguers to have played for the Bulls.
Over the years, the Bull have made the playoffs in 13 of the 20 affiliated seasons, winning the International League title four times and the Triple-A championship in 2009. The Rays hit the minor league jackpot when they snagged the Durham Bulls and we’re all looking forward to many more years of this partnership.