There’s a Lot to Be Said for Being the First.

Al Lopez enjoyed that distinction more times than most. He was the first Tampa native in the Major Leagues. The first Tampanian to be inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame.

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As the son of Cuban immigrants, born the seventh of nine children, Al Lopez dreamed about playing baseball – in the big leagues. He promised himself it would happen. Focused and determined, Lopez believed in hard work. The sandlots around Ybor City became his refuge. One day, his homerun, his chance at sports stardom would come.

Al Lopez’s destiny would come calling and his talents would take him far. From a catcher for the Class-D Tampa Smokers to his major league debut in 1928 with Brooklyn, Lopez eventually landed a regular starting spot as catcher with the Dodgers in1930. He would enjoy steady stints with the Boston Bees, Pittsburgh Pirates and the Cleveland Indians. Lopez held the Major League record for career games as a catcher for more than 40 years. His National League record held on a few years longer, until it was broken in 1990.