TAMPA, Florida – If you live in Tampa, you’ve likely heard the name Al Lopez. Now you can see the home of the Major League Baseball Hall of Famer in a way that honors the legacy of baseball in Tampa and Hillsborough Counties.
Tampa is one of the top regions in the country producing Major League Baseball players. Al Lopez was the first Tampa native to play in the Major Leagues. He began his career with the Tampa Smokers and then made his debut with the Brooklyn Robins, who later became the Brooklyn Dodgers and then the Los Angeles Dodgers.
On May 15, 2013, the crews moved his childhood home one mile from its current location on North 19th Street in 2003.
“He had six brothers and sisters, so there were seven in total. And then there was a room upstairs for the parents and grandparents, and a lot of those casitas and grandparents’ bedroom were upstairs,” Chantal Hevia, President, and CEO of the Ybor City Museum and the Tampa Baseball Museum at Al Lopez House said.
It is now the Tampa Baseball Museum at Al Lopez House in Ybor City. His legacy and the rich history of Tampa baseball are now open to the public.
“Al loved to play baseball,” said Hevia. “At the age of 16, he was discovered because he simply loved playing baseball on the local pilots. He was the first major league player, manager, and induction into the Tampa Baseball Hall of Fame.”
The museum opened its doors on Saturday September 25th. Lou Piniella, a Hall of Famer and a native of Tampa, was the Guest of Honor.
“We’re incredibly proud of our baseball museum, our history, and our community. It started here, and in 1887 the Cubans came to work in the cigar industry. And as such, they brought their love of baseball with them,” said Hevia.
There are 89 hand-signed baseballs in the museum. Each represents a player from Tampa and Hillsborough Counties.
âThis ball collection says it all, because when you look at it, you see, oh 89 players from Tampa. And then when you read the names, you see the Latin or Hispanic names and how many of them are from that culture, “said Hevia.” But we are excited that Tampa has one of the highest professional baseball players per capita across the country has. You may know that New York or Los Angeles would have big numbers, but we’re spot on. “There with them. Most people guess we had 10. We had 89 so far.”
The original seats of the Al Lopez field are now in front of the museum, where his son’s bedroom used to be.
According to Baseball Hall of Fame“Alfonso Ramon LÃ³pez” left the game with a career win rate of 0.584 – one of four managers to break the 0.580 mark after playing at least 2,200 games. In 15 full seasons as skipper, LÃ³pez’s teams never posted a record loss and finished only three times worse than second place. He was elected to the 1977 Hall of Fame. “
LÃ³pez died on October 30, 2005.
The museum is open on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. For more informations, Click here.