ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — Fans came from the north and south Tuesday to watch the Rays begin their postseason dreams for the fifth year in a row.
“It’s the same as every year,” said Jeffrey Waitkevich. “It’s World Series or bust.”
The team’s faithful fans are ready for another playoff run.
“It’s electric,” Waitkevich said. “All the people are here. They’re excited about baseball. I mean, we’re always excited when it’s baseball season, but playoff energy is just different.”
In downtown St. Pete Tuesday morning, city officials and team leaders raised a Tampa Bay Rays flag to start what they hope will be a successful October.
“I think we have the team to do it, and God, if it’s not this year, when?” asked Ray Lorenzo. “No matter what, the team is going to go on, especially now that we’re here to stay.”
Residents like Ray Lorenzo and his wife Rosie are glad the team decided to stay in the city and go in on a new stadium.
“I’m excited,” said Rosie Lorenzo. “I really was praying for them to stay here because I know they were looking for a stadium elsewhere. And when Mayor Welch announced, I was so excited.”
Some of the first fans lined up outside the gates around 11:30 a.m., hours before the stadium opened.
John Stewart made sure he and his daughter were first in line to get into Tropicana Field for the Rays’ first Wild Card playoff game against the Texas Rangers.
“My daughter has Rays fever. Can’t go to school. Cough cough,” Stewart motioned. “So you know, we had to take advantage of that.”
Stewart even took advantage of the Rays’ free tattoo pop-up shop yesterday, getting Raymond inked on his calf.
“We had a strong start and kind of tapered off a little bit in the middle,” said Don Jackson. “But just watching these last few games, the team is pumped, we’re strong, we’re hitting.”
At Ferg’s Sports Bar and Grill, across the street from Tropicana Field, Dorothy and Candice fueled up before game time.
“The flags that are out, the people that are talking about it, the cheering,” Dorothy said.
The North Port resident has been watching the Rays since the team first arrived in St. Pete.
“I’m feeling great,” Dorothy said. “I picked them in the bracket to play Atlanta at the end and come out as winners. Always have faith in them, because, you never know what the kids are going to do. Because that’s what we have, a bunch of kids with a few seniors every year.”
Now that the Rays are staying, their fans say they’re staying too.
“We live here,” said Rosie Lorenzo. “Support your team here in Florida, and the Rays are our team.”