For tonight's special game against the San Francisco Giants -- in which the Rays will donate all of the proceeds to the Pulse Victims Fund -- the Rays will bring out the caps worn by their former Double-A team, the Orlando Rays.
The Rays were affiliated with Orlando from 1997 to 2003, when the team moved its Double-A affiliation to Montgomery, ending 30 years of Double-A ball in The City Beautiful. Orlando had been a minor league home for the Minnesota Twins from 1973 to 1992, whose team was dubbed the team the Orlando Twins.
In 1989, a new owner looking to make Orlando more enticing for major sports teams rebranded the club the SunRays. It worked on the basketball side as the Orlando Magic became a NBA team, but the baseball side moved much more slowly and eventually the Twins moved out and the Cubs moved in.
The Cubs took over in 1993, but when the Tampa Bay Devil Rays were named as an expansion team in 1995, discussions began with the Cubs ownership to purchase the team. Thus, a slow transition ensued with the Rays and Cubs actually both featuring minor leaguers on the Double-A roster until 1999 when the Orlando Rays became a Tampa Bay Devil Rays exclusive minor league team.
The Rays stayed in Orlando until 2003, when the team was purchased by a group in Montgomery, Alabama. The new owners moved the team there, naming them the Montgomery Biscuits. They remain the Rays AA affiliate.
During Orlando's time with affiliated baseball, several notable major leaguers made stops there. These include Gary Gaetti & Frank Viola (1981), Paul Sorrento & Mark Guthrie (1989), Chuck Knobluach & Denny Neagle (1990), Doug Glanville (1994), Jose Molina & Kerry Wood (1997), Aubrey Huff, Dan Wheeler, Toby Hall, & Miguel Cairo (1999), Carl Crawford, Jorge Cantu, & Wilson Alvarez (2001), Rocco Baldelli (2002), B.J. Upton & Jonny Gomes (2003).
The Orlando Rays were also heavily featured in the Disney movie The Rookie, starring Dennis Quaid in the real life story of former Devil Rays pitcher Jim Morris.