[Via email from the Durham Bulls Director of Media Relations Matt DeMargel.]
The Durham Bulls today released their 2010 schedule, which includes an exhibition game with the 2008 American League Champion Tampa Bay Rays and their first game at the historic Durham Athletic Park since 1994.
The Bulls and Rays will square off in their first meeting in the Bull City since 2002 on either April 2nd or 3rd, 2010. The Rays’ current 25-man roster features 11 former Durham Bulls, including two-time all-star and 2008 Rookie of the Year Evan Longoria and 2008 Minor League Player of the Year David Price. It is the third time the Rays have played an exhibition game at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. The Rays won the last meeting, 7-2.
“We’re thrilled that so many of our major league players who were developed here in Durham have the opportunity to return and play again for fans in this great community,” Assistant Director of Minor League Operations for the Tampa Bay Rays Chaim Bloom said.
The two teams also announced an extension of their working agreement through the 2014 season. The four-year extension kicks in when the current agreement ends following the 2010 season. The extension means the Bulls’ relationship with the Rays will be the second longest in club history behind their 18-year partnership with the Atlanta Braves from 1980-1997. The Bulls are the only Triple-A franchise in Rays’ history.
“Our partnership with the Tampa Bay Rays has been outstanding,” Durham Bulls General Manager Mike Birling said, “I have always felt their commitment to build a winning team here is just as important as their commitment in St. Petersburg and that is the sign of a true partner.”
Also part of the 2010 schedule is a game between arguably the two most famous teams in Minor League Baseball history at the historic Durham Athletic Park. It will be the first time the Bulls play at the Durham Athletic Park since 1994. Taking advantage of the renovations to their old home, the Bulls announced they will play their May 10th game against the Toledo Mud Hens at the site made famous by the movie, Bull Durham. Durham Athletic Park was home to the Bulls from 1940-1994. The ballpark will now host N.C. Central University's baseball team for home games and Minor League Baseball will use the park to train staff working for the league's 160 teams. But as Durham Athletic Park Manager for Minor League Baseball Jill Rusinko said, it will be exciting to bring the Bulls back home for a game next season.
“Minor League Baseball is proud to be part of bringing the Bulls back to their home of 55 years,” Rusinko said, “I am sure that having the Bulls play at the DAP will be an extremely enjoyable and nostalgic experience for fans and the City of Durham. We look forward to working with the Bulls in creating new memories for everyone who will attend this game at historic Durham Athletic Park.”
Durham will open the 2010 season on the road against the Norfolk Tides on Thursday, April 8th and will play them for their home opener one week later on Thursday, April 15th.