About

The Bases are Loaded & the First Pitch is About to Be Thrown!

It’s a hit that will go soaring out of the ballpark and into the history books, as a labor of love finally comes to life. The Tampa Baseball Museum at the Al Lopez House is almost ready to welcome fans from across the world. Soon, the wait will finally be over. More than 125 years of history and a lineup of local legends are coming together, like a perfect season, to celebrate the sport of baseball and those who played it.

The Tampa Baseball Museum at the Al Lopez House will be a home for celebration, preservation, and education of local baseball culture – from Little League to Major League, and everything in between, including: Factory, Inter-Social, Municipal, Cigar City, and Negro leagues. In this house, there’s a carefully preserved legacy. It’s a story of hope and triumph marked by original artifacts, proudly displayed for all to see. It is the actual childhood home of Al Lopez, Tampa’s first baseball player to make it to the major leagues and inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame.

This delicate structure has been carefully preserved, the entire house, moved within Ybor City from its originally location to its current location on 19th Street. The home is being lovingly restored and will be put on display for all to enjoy because of the extraordinary efforts of some of the area’s finest leaders and volunteers, city and county grants, and the generous donations of too many to name. It’s teamwork like this that would have made Al Lopez smile.

In this house, there’s a carefully preserved legacy.

The Bases are Loaded & the First Pitch is About to Be Thrown!

It’s a hit that will go soaring out of the ballpark and into the history books, as a labor of love finally comes to life. The Tampa Baseball Museum at the Al Lopez House is almost ready to welcome fans from across the world. Soon, the wait will finally be over. More than 125 years of history and a lineup of local legends are coming together, like a perfect season, to celebrate the sport of baseball and those who played it.

The Tampa Baseball Museum at the Al Lopez House will be a home for celebration, preservation, and education of local baseball culture – from Little League to Major League, and everything in between, including: Factory, Inter-Social, Municipal, Cigar City, and Negro leagues. In this house, there’s a carefully preserved legacy. It’s a story of hope and triumph marked by original artifacts, proudly displayed for all to see. It is the actual childhood home of Al Lopez, Tampa’s first baseball player to make it to the major leagues and inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame.

In this house,there’s a carefullypreserved legacy.

This delicate structure has been carefully preserved, the entire house, moved within Ybor City from its originally location to its current location on 19th Street. The home is being lovingly restored and will be put on display for all to enjoy because of the extraordinary efforts of some of the area’s finest leaders and volunteers, city and county grants, and the generous donations of too many to name. It’s teamwork like this that would have made Al Lopez smile.

Over 130 years of memories.

Generations have long relished the bonds formed over a game called baseball. The sport played a major role in shaping the Tampa Bay community and integrating the wide range of cultures and heritage in our region.

The roots run deep, steeped in tradition. A Tampa baseball team was first organized in 1878. In a town with less than 700 residents, hundreds watched the Tampa team take on other Florida teams. Less than a decade later, the cigar industry arrived in Ybor City, along with Cuban immigrants with a deep love for baseball.

Spring Training

Tampa’s spring training tradition got an early start: 1913. The Chicago Cubs trained at Plant Field, which paved the way for five other teams’ spring training in Tampa: the Cincinnati Reds, Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers, Washington Senators, Chicago White Sox and the New York Yankees.

This is just a warm-up for the workout of honoring & celebrating baseball in Tampa.

Minor Leagues

The Minor Leagues weren’t far behind. The Tampa Smokers started in 1919 as a charter franchise of the Florida State League. This version of the Smokers closed in 1929, until it was revived in 1946 as part of the International League. The Smokers played the Havana Cubans regularly, until the league folded in 1954. The Tampa Tarpons became Tampa’s Minor League team, playing at Al Lopez Field from 1957-89. In 1994, the Tampa Yankees came to town and continued to play until 2018 when a re-branding effort brought the Tampa Tarpons back to Steinbrenner Field.

Wartime Leagues

America’s favorite pastime endured World War II. The Inter-Social League pulled crowds of several thousand to West Tampa and Ybor City to see players that included the fathers of future Major Leaguers Lou Piniella and Dave Magadan. Outside the Tampa region, the All-American Professional Baseball League took shape, and called to Ybor City’s own Senaida “Shu Shu” Wirth. She played shortstop and second base for the South Bend Blue Sox from 1946-51, earning her way to the All-Star team in her rookie season.

This is just a warm-up for the workout of honoring and celebrating baseball in Tampa. Every level of the sport from local minor leagues, to the local legends raised in West Tampa, Ybor City and other areas of Tampa, is represented in the Tampa Baseball Museum at the Al Lopez House.

This delicate structure has been carefully preserved, the entire house, moved within Ybor City from its originally location to its current location on 19th Street. The home is being lovingly restored and will be put on display for all to enjoy because of the extraordinary efforts of some of the area’s finest leaders and volunteers, city and county grants, and the generous donations of too many to name. It’s teamwork like this that would have made Al Lopez smile.

Good Things Take Time. Great Things Take The Right Team…

Realizing the right time to capitalize on a fleeting opportunity – then taking action. This is the story of both. A story of a community, coming together, in brotherhood, in sisterhood, in the name of a piece of history they didn’t want to be forgotten and making it happen. The result: The Tampa Baseball Museum at the Al Lopez House.

Like a ballpark before a big game, the lights were dim, the stands – empty. Then something special happened. More than a dozen key players stepped onto the field, up to the plate and hit it out of the park.

Like a ballpark before a big game, the lights were dim, the stands – empty. Then something special happened. More than a dozen key players stepped onto the field, up to the plate and hit it out of the park.

Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT)


FDOT’s commitment to preserving Tampa’s heritage through the Interstate Historic Mitigation Plan saved the Al Lopez house. The house was in the path of widening I-4, and FDOT staff members recognized the structure as the former home of baseball great Al Lopez. The house was then deemed “historically significant,” and scouted a piece of land and community partner for the home. FDOT approached the Ybor City Museum Society, which manages the row of five historic “casitas” along 19th Street in Ybor City and supports the Ybor City Museum State Park. The Society stepped up to the plate to develop a baseball museum, and Hillsborough County leased land along 19th Street to the Society at nearly no cost for 30 years (with an option to extend for another 30 years). Moving the original structure 1.5 miles from Lopez’s former address to its new location took an all-star team to make it happen. At 8 p.m. on May 15, 2013, crews from Florida’s Department of Transportation rolled the home off its original lot at 1210 E. 12th Avenue and began to inch toward 2003 N. 19th Street.

To ensure the integrity Al Lopez’s childhood home, moving and utility crews slowly and carefully navigated the route, with power lines, utility poles, traffic lights, trees and street signs along the way. Nearly 14 hours later, on May 16, 2013, the museum’s new home was put into place. Lopez’s home is in good company. The six neighboring houses along 19th Street were moved from other locations in Tampa and placed here by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) as part of the 64-home Interstate Historic Mitigation Plan.

Hillsborough County

In addition to providing the land, the Hillsborough Board of County Commissioners awarded a Historic Preservation Challenge Grant to the Ybor City Museum Society to support the development of the Tampa Baseball Museum. The grant requires a 100% match (combined monetary and in-kind) in order to receive the full $250,000 funding.

The City of Tampa

In October 2012, the City of Tampa awarded a Community Redevelopment Area Façade Improvement Grant to the Ybor City Museum Society for the Tampa Baseball Museum. The program provides financial assistance for exterior renovation, restoration and rehabilitation as well as landscaping improvements.

Renovations to the Al Lopez house will transform the structure from a house into a museum. The facade will be kept largely intact, with significant reconfiguration of the interior.

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.

As the son of Spanish 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.

The Ybor City Museum Society Has Been Leading the Charge…

The Ybor City Museum Society has been leading the charge to create the Tampa Baseball Museum at the Al Lopez House. This new museum fits like a well-oiled mitt on the Society’s mission to preserve, promote and celebrate the unique cultural heritage of Ybor City, one of only two National Historic Landmark Districts in Florida.

Established in 1982, the Society creates exhibits, programming, educational tours, cultural and historical resources for the Ybor City Museum State Park, and develops research tools to ensure that Ybor City’s significant history remains at the forefront of Tampa culture.

As a nonprofit organization, the Society depends on support from its members, corporate sponsors and donors to help fund its programming and activities. Other sources of support include garden rentals, sales from the Museum Store and leasing of the historic casitas in the Centennial Park 19th Street Retail Area. When the Tampa Baseball Museum opens, the Society will enjoy a new stream of support.

Get involved to help ensure that our important history is preserved for future generations and communicated to all who are interested in our rich cultural heritage.

Rounding third, headed for home

Like any great team needs a coach, the Tampa Baseball Museum at the Al Lopez House has many businesses, organizations and individuals in its dugout. Thanks to the coaches, trainers and cheering fans who are making this museum possible.

Grand Slam Sponsors

Swope Rodante PA

Home Run

Robert C. and Aida Calafell
The Saunders Foundation
Manny & Mary Alvarez

Triple

The Family of Al Lopez
Rotary Club of Ybor City
MNU Class 5
Tampa Bay Lightning

Double

James and Cecilia Ferman
Hill Ward Henderson
Oliva Tobacco Company
Sam and Donna Parino in Memory of Armando and Hortensia Piñero
Mable and Ellsworth Simmons Foundation
Tampa Sports Club Foundation

Diamond Club

Bank of Tampa
Drs. Louis and Roseanne Bowers
Community Foundation of Tampa Bay
Herman and Karen Lazzara
Sam and Deborah Lazzara
George Mitchell
Net Media, LLC
Loretta D. Perez
RSA Architecture
J.J. Taylor
Anthony and Diana Scaglione
Terry Smiljanich
Patrick Venable
Ybor City Roundtable

Fan Club

Above All Structural, LLC
Gilda and Ed Banks
Ronald Darrigo
Dr. Adrienne Garcia and Ed Duarte
The Honorable Ken Hagan
Chantal Ruilova Hevia
Debra Romanello
Andy Joe Scaglione
Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation
Ybor City Chamber of Commerce

Boosters

See who else is supporting the Museum!

Thank you to the many local businesses providing in-kind support including:

  • Abell Garcia

  • B2 Communications

  • Caldeco

  • Diaz Fritz Isabel

  • MCE Engineers

  • Coastal, an Oldcastle Company

  • Site To Key

  • Stantec

  • Tampa Bay Rays

  • Think Tank