The Durham Bulls franchise, currently the Triple-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays (and the only Triple-A affiliate the Rays have ever had), has been around since 1902, when they were called the Tobacconists, a nod to the local agricultural industry. That team, Durham’s first in professional baseball, didn’t play a full season because the North Carolina League folded, and the city would go a decade before the team reformed as the Bulls in 1913.
Both nicknames, Bulls and Tobacconists, are tied to the city’s nickname, the Bull City, which is tied to a popular brand of smoking tobacco from the early 1900s, Bull Durham Smoking Tobacco.
The Bulls, who have already made one splash this offseason with plans for their Durham Lollygaggers promotion, announced today that they’ll play five games in 2019 as the Durham Tobacconists in honor of the city’s 150th anniversary celebrations. Since there are no photos of that short-lived Tobacconists team in 1902, the Bulls created “fauxback” uniforms that they’ll wear during the games.
The Bulls will play as the Tobacconists once a month during the season: April 13, May 18, June 27, July 13, and August 31.