The original owner of the Rays franchise died Sunday at age 81. Here is sampling of the reaction around Major League Baseball and beyond:
Rob Manfred, MLB commissioner
“Vince Naimoli was the driving force behind the efforts that brought a Major League club to the Tampa Bay region. Vince believed deeply in the market and overcame significant obstacles to secure a Major League franchise. The Rays’ many winning seasons under Stu Sternberg would not have been possible without Vince’s longstanding devotion to this cause leading up to a successful expansion bid in 1995. Vince was also a generous figure who cared deeply about his community and education, including his alma mater, the University of Notre Dame, and universities in the Tampa area and his native New Jersey."
Stuart Sternberg, Rays current principal owner
“Vince Naimoli was instrumental in bringing baseball to Tampa Bay. I am forever grateful that he entrusted me with the franchise in 2005. It was my pleasure to have worked with Vince and to have been his partner."
Lenda Naimoli, Vince’s wife
“Our Vince passed away peacefully the evening of Aug. 25, 2019. He was surrounded by family and friends during his last days. We thank everyone for the outpouring of love and support for Vince. We ask for respect of our privacy during this time."
Hal Steinbrenner, Yankees managing general partner
“Vince was a pioneer in bringing Major League Baseball to the bay area. I know he and my father had a mutual respect for each other, and it centered around their shared passion for baseball and the Tampa/St. Petersburg communities. I’d like to extend my condolences to the entire Naimoli family.''
Jerry Reinsdorf, longtime White Sox owner, member of expansion committee
“Nobody worked with more passion to bring Major League Baseball to Tampa Bay than Vince Namoli. He truly loved the game of baseball."
Wade Boggs, Hall of Fame player who finished career with Devil Rays, longtime Tampa resident
Rick Vaughn, former longtime Rays communications VP, starting in 1996
“Through it all, I believe Vince often tried to do what he thought was in the best interests of our community. He just was never comfortable in the spotlight that came with his role. His generosity in Tampa Bay before, during and after his tenure with the franchise is a clear indication of how much he loved it here.
“I recall the years he hosted our employee holiday parties at his home. He would ask each employee to bring a toy to donate to the Christmas Toy Shop on 16th street in St. Petersburg. He and Lenda would buy a bunch as well and the next day he would take the toys there himself with no fanfare. Up until 4-5 years ago all of us received handwritten birthday cards from him every year."
Dick Vitale, longtime prominent Rays fan, ESPN broadcaster
Jack Swarbrick, Notre Dame VP/AD
“Vince was a great friend of the University who believed passionately that the lives of young people could be positively impacted through participation in athletics. He will be greatly missed by all of us who benefited from his friendship, his counsel and his generosity.”
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Tampa Bay Bucs
‘'We are saddened to hear of the passing of Vince Naimoli earlier today. Vince was successful in bringing Major League Baseball to the Tampa Bay area due to his relentless efforts and tireless dedication to this community. We send our deepest condolences to the Naimoli family.'’
Larry Marfise, University of Tampa AD
“Vince Naimoli will be sorely missed. His generosity and support for this University will never be forgotten. Without his gifts and continued support, we would not be in the midst of unprecedented success."
Rick Nafe, former longtime Rays operations VP, starting in 1997
"He was intensely loyal to those he felt he was a getting a measure of loyalty back from. In the early years we had eight VPs and we had this meetings and everyone had to be there. No matter what we were talking about, he’d walk in every time with these thick folders, at least four of them, with information on the topic. I don’t know of a more loyal person. And I don’t know of a more intense businessman than he was.''