10 hot dates at the Trop

Published April 3, 2005

Looking for a reason to get into the season? Here are 10 dates worth considering a trip to the Trop for:

MONDAY VS. TORONTO: It's opening day, which means pomp, circumstance and bunting on and off the field. And with a 4:15 p.m. start, you can get home in time for the NCAA championship game.

APRIL 12-14 VS. BALTIMORE: Sammy Sosa has hit home runs in 40 major-league stadiums, but until this series he hasn't had the chance to add Tropicana Field to his hit list.

APRIL 22-24 VS. BOSTON: The Red Sox make the first of three visits that will turn the Trop into a sea of red, creating that reverse universe effect of the visiting team being cheered more loudly than the home squad.

MAY 2-5 VS. NEW YORK: It will have been more than a month since the Yankees left their Tampa spring training base, so you figure they'll be glad to be back in the area for four days, and their fans will be glad to see them.

JUNE 13-15 VS. MILWAUKEE: There aren't too many people who will get excited over a Brewers-Rays matchup, but look at it this way: It's something that has never happened before.

JUNE 18 VS. ST. LOUIS: As if having the Cardinals and Tony La Russa make their first visit to the Trop weren't enough, the Rays are planning a Turn Back the Clock Day. And, no, they won't wear their garish 1998 uniforms.

JUNE 26 VS. FLORIDA: Two teams with some of the best young talent meet on the field, and the first 5,000 kids get a Rays autographed team ball.

JULY 23 VS. BALTIMORE: The first 7,500 fans will get a Wade Boggs figurine; everyone there will get a chance to see Tampa's Hall of Famer throw out the first pitch.

AUG. 15-17 VS. NEW YORK: The Rays come back from a two-week cross-country road trip to open their longest homestand of the season, but they won't feel very much at home with all the Yankees fans crossing the bridge from Tampa.

OCT. 2 VS. BALTIMORE: The Rays and Orioles finish the season thinking there have to be better days ahead.

MARC TOPKIN, Times staff writer#