St. Petersburg has shared a long and glorious tradition with baseball. The city earned the reputation as being the birthplace of spring training in Florida. As early as 1914, the St. Louis Browns made its springtime debut in the Sunshine City, but it was former city Mayor Al Lang who brought the Major Leagues to St. Petersburg each spring beginning in 1916 with the arrival of his hometown team, the Philadelphia Phillies.
Since that time, the city has hosted springtime guests including Boston Braves, New York Yankees, St. Louis Cardinals, New York Mets, Baltimore Orioles and the city's hometown Tampa Bay Rays. The sport's most illustrious figures have run the bases in St. Petersburg – Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Stan Musial and more.
Al Lang Stadium opened in 1977, replacing Al Lang Field which was built in 1947. It was also in 1977 that St. Petersburg civic leaders first pitched the idea of becoming home for the regular season. A two-decade dream to bring Major League Baseball to St. Pete was realized with the arrival of the Tampa Bay Rays to Tropicana Field in 1998.