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June 12, 2009 at 11:28 am ET
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Two Welcome Returns: Elijah Dukes & Retro Devil Ray Uniforms

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Like most Devil Ray fans I’m psyched for Friday’s matchup at historic Tropicana Field not only because it should usher in three easy victories, but because Elijah Dukes will be returning exactly two years to the day of his last appearance in a game at The Trop.

Almost as exciting is the news I got from Rays Renegade, who’s found that the Devil Rays will be wearing retro 1998 Devil Rays uniforms on Saturday July 11th as they face the Oakland Athletics.テつ The game will also feature a postgame concert with 90’s modern rock icons Smash Mouth.

What a great month at The Trop, the return of the 120th Greatest Devil Ray Ever and the return of some of baseball’s most beautiful and colorful uniforms.テつ The return of Dukes, star of B&C’s acclaimed The Redemption Of Elijah Dukes series, is a tremendously uplifting and inspiring story as Dukes has basically been a model citizen the past two years despite the doubts and at times hateful cynicism he has faced.

More from RaysRenegade on the retro uniforms:

Throw-Back Jersey game will be Sat.,July 11th vs Oakland A’s. They will be wearing 1998 era jerseys. I got this straight from Marketing.

I am proud of the Devil Rays for being secure enough to make the 2009 Throwback Jersey the 1998 technicolor D-rays jersey. Kudos to the 3rd floor!

I had a pretty similar reaction when I first heard the news — the organization must be pretty confident with their rebranding to have the team don the original jerseys as opposed to the Tarpons, Saints and Pelicans of years past.

Perhaps then they might also finally realize that the whole name mutilation was completely unnecessary.テつ As much as I hear certain Devil Ray fans falling into the Rays as being the new good version and the Devil Rays being the old bad version, what changed perceptions wasn’t the name change it was the standings change.

The Devil Rays aren’t the best story in sports and the best franchise in sports because they materialized out of thin air — no one was really fooled into thinking that — it’s because they overcame the adversity of their early struggles.テつ Hopefully the Turn Back The Clock Night next month is just one small step to a fuller recognition of our franchise’s glorious past and full history.

As for Elijah Dukes, he too has the chance to become a great story because of his past adversity.テつ For two years the signs are there — hopefully his story will continue to be one of redemption.

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