Baseball

Tour curated by: Paul Dunder, University of South Florida Department of History

Tampa is a baseball town. Since the end of the Civil War, baseball has been played on Tampa’s side streets, sandlots, parks, fields, and large stadiums. The stories in this tour tell of the evolution of baseball in the city. From the loosely organized Cigar City League to high school and little league dynasties, baseball has reflected changes in the city’s social and cultural fabrics. Yet, changes in Tampa’s physical landscapes have reproduced the importance of baseball. Not only does this tour highlight stories of baseball’s past in Tampa, it also reflects on how we as a community remember baseball.

With special thanks to the Tampa Baseball Museum
http://tampabaseballmuseum.org/

Locations for Tour

Upon his death, Al Lopez was heralded as a source of pride to a generation of Tampa Latinos. Born to immigrant Spanish parents in 1908, the Ybor City native played 19 years in the Major Leagues for four teams: Brooklyn Robins/Dodgers, Boston Bees,…

Professional and quasi-professional leagues and teams originated in the 19th century. Early teams, such as the Tampa Greys, represented the entire city. With the completion of the Fortune Street Bridge in February 1893, local organizers began on…

Mutual-aid societies were an important part of Tampa’s immigrant communities. Although they provided an important service to their ethnic community, they were also associated with leisure. These places were known for their Saturday night dances and…

The idea of traveling south for spring training is as old as the professional game. The Cincinnati Redstockings began the tradition in 1870 when they traveled to New Orleans. The first team to travel to Florida was the Washington Senators. In 1888,…

The Tampa Smokers began play in the Florida State League (FSL) in 1919. Professional in nature, the Smokers were a charter member of the league. Like any of the city’s other teams, the Smokers played their games at Plant Field. By 1924, the…

During the late 1960s and into the 1970s, the Tampa Catholic Crusaders dominated high school baseball in both Tampa and Florida. During an eleven-year span, the team won six state championships: 1968, 1971, 1973, 1974, 1976, and 1979. The Crusaders…

By the 1960s, youth baseball had replaced the adult baseball in popularity. Whereas city, inter-social, and minor leagues captivated Tampa audiences if the first half of the 20th century, the second half belonged to Tampa youth baseball. Not only…

Tropicana Field is associated with the local Major League Baseball franchise. After years of spring training games, youth leagues, and minor baseball, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays played their first game on March 31, 1998, against the Detroit Tigers…

On February 18, 2017, the Tampa Baseball Museum hosted an event title “Latinos and Baseball: In the Barrios and the Big Leagues.” Partnering with the Smithsonian, the museum provided tours of the almost-finished space, a panel discussion…