1. Sports
  2. /
  3. Rays

What they’re saying about Vince Naimoli

The former Rays owner is lauded for his passion for the game and philanthropic efforts.
The Tampa Bay Devil Rays Managing General Partner & CEO Vince Naimoli in the Rays dugout before the start of the game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg on Aug. 28, 2005 [DIRK SHADD | Times]
Published Aug. 26
Updated Aug. 26

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.”

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.''

Fairleigh Dickinson University

New Jersey Institute of Technology alumni office

Jeff Ridgway, former Devil Rays pitcher

Oakland A’s


  1. The Nationals' Victor Robles reacts as he crosses home after hitting a home run during the sixth inning of a Game 3 rout of the Cardinals in the NL Championship Series. JEFF ROBERSON  |  AP
    Washington rolls to an 8-1 rout, is one game from World Series.
  2. The Rays posted this  message of appreciation on their Twitter account. RAYS BASEBALL  |  Twitter
    An ad in the Tampa Bay Times from the team and Twitter messages from players cap the season that included playoffs for the first time since 2013.
  3. Tampa Bay Rays leftfielder Tommy Pham (29) takes a moment in the dugout after the Rays' 6-2 loss to the Houston Astros in Game 1 of the American League Division Series. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    Contract terms for every player currently on Tampa Bay’s roster.
  4. The Yankees' Gleyber Torres hits a home run off Astros starting pitcher Zack Greinke during the sixth inning in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series on Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019. SUE OGROCKI  |  AP
    The 22-year-old homers and has five RBIs, the youngest AL player to drive in that many in a postseason game in major-league history.
  5. Tampa Bay Rays centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier (39), right, and shortstop Willy Adames (1) celebrate the Rays 10-3 win over the Houston Astros in Game 3 of the American League Division Series at Tropicana Field. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times
    Rays Tales: Underdogs really do almost “shock the world,” and Kevin Cash deserves serious American League manager of the year consideration.
  6. Nationals starter Anibal Sanchez pitches during the eighth inning of Game 1 of the NL Championship Series against the Cardinals on Friday, Oct. 11, 2019. MARK HUMPHREY  |  AP
    Starter Anibal Sanchez has a no-hitter through 7 2/3 innings before giving up a clean single to center.
  7. Rays catcher Travis d'Arnaud and starting pitcher Tyler Glasnow walk back to the dugout after the Astros score four runs in the first inning of Game 5 of the American League Division Series on Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    Manager Kevin Cash says that wasn’t the main problem for the four-run first inning in Game 5 of the ALDS. It was the Astros’ hitters.
  8. The Tampa Bay Rays grounds crew works to remove the ALDS playoff logo along the first base line on the field at Tropicana Field on Friday. DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    That’s what the team stresses as it faces an offseason with roster flexibility.
  9. Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash, on left, along with Erik Neander, center, senior vice president of baseball operations and general manager, and Chaim Bloom, senior vice president of baseball operations, address the media during a news conference at Tropicana Field on Friday. DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    John Romano: And while they’re at it, find a consistent closer and a bat with some pop.
  10. Houston Astros players celebrate their 6-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 5 of the American League Division Series Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019 in Houston. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    Preparing for Rays steady steam of relievers was a significant challenge for Houston’s hitters.