Baseball Gazette
August 2013
Dear Stephanie,

Welcome to the August edition of Baseball Gazette, the e-newsletter of the Tampa Baseball Museum at the Al Lopez House. Each month, we deliver news and updates about our progress toward opening.

About the Photo:

On July 2, 2011, the Tampa Bay Rays sported the home uniforms of the 1951 Tampa Smokers for the Turn Back the Clock game. Special thanks to the Tampa Bay Rays for sharing this photo with us. 

Tampa’s Minor League Heritage

The Tampa Yankees are well-known as Tampa’s Minor League team; however, Tampa has a rich Minor League history. The Tampa Smokers were our first Minor League team; their disbanding in 1954 would make way for the Tampa Tarpons and then ultimately, the Tampa Yankees. 

Ybor City natives Joe Benito and Charlie Cuellar were integral players for the Tampa Smokers in the ’40s and ’50s. Cuellar went on to play in the Major Leagues for the Chicago White Sox in 1950.

Founded in 1919, the original Tampa Smokers were a charter franchise of the original Florida State League. Al Lopez played for the Smokers in 1925-26 before moving into the Major League. The Smokers moved into the Southeastern League in 1929, but the league closed one year later.

In 1946, the Florida International League started, and the Tampa Smokers were revived. As part of the International League, the Smokers played the Havana Cubans regularly.

To memorialize Tampa’s Minor League heritage, the Tampa Baseball Museum has acquired Tarpons jerseys and hats, a re-created Smokers jersey, and other memorabilia.

When the Florida International League folded in 1954, the Smokers dissolved.

When the Florida State League was restored in 1957, Tampa regained a Minor League team – the Tampa Tarpons. Playing at Al Lopez Field, the team was affiliated with the Cincinnati Reds from 1961-87.

The Tarpons won two FSL championships in 1957 and 1961. Nardi Contreras, a Tampa native, played for the Tampa Tarpons in 1970 and worked his way up the Majors,becoming a relief pitcher for the Chicago White Sox. In 1988, the Tampa Tarpons were sold and relocated to Sarasota.

Tampa would go without another Minor League team for six years, until the Tampa Yankees in 1994.

Creating the Exhibits

The Tampa Baseball Museum at the Al Lopez House is seeking artifacts and memorabilia for the museum’s permanent and rotating exhibits.

The donated items will cover more than 125 years of local baseball heritage through permanent and rotating exhibits.

With an emphasis on West Tampa, Ybor City and Tampa baseball, the museum is considering two- and three-dimensional items related to local Major, Minor, Negro, Inter-Social and local leagues, local fields, locally raised players and local youth baseball. Learn more here.

We appreciate your support and look forward to keeping you up-to-date about the Tampa Baseball Museum at the Al Lopez House.
In This Edition

All Star Team 
The hard work of a dedicated team is making The Tampa Baseball Museum at the Al Lopez House a reality. Thank you to our team:

– Mary Alvarez
Ybor City Museum Society Board Member and former Tampa City Councilwoman

– Del Diaz
General Contractor and Consultant

– Kenneth Garcia, AIA
Architect and Ybor City Museum Society
Board Member

– Bob Gomez
Rehabilitation and Capital Campaign
Committee Chair

– Chantal Hevia
Ybor City Museum Society President and CEO

– Daniel Martinez, III
Capital Campaign Committee Co-Chair

– Elizabeth McCoy
Ybor City Museum Society Curator

Preserving Heritage
The Tampa Baseball Museum at the Al Lopez House is being developed by the Ybor City Museum Society, a nonprofit organization that preserves and promotes Ybor City’s cultural heritage and supports the Ybor City Museum State Park.

Tampa Baseball Museum at the Al Lopez House
2003 N. 19th Street | Tampa, Florida 33605
(813) 247-1434

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