Monday, March 24, 2008

Remembering Al Lopez Field

Built in 1955 at a cost of $282,901 ($2.1 million in today’s dollars), Al Lopez Field served as Tampa’s baseball Mecca for more than 30 years. Named in honor of Tampa native and Baseball Hall of Famer Al Lopez, the 4,000-seat stadium first served as the Spring Training home of the Chicago White Sox until 1959. The following year, the Cincinnati Reds made it their permanent preseason home until 1987.

It was here that Tampa baseball fans could watch future greats such as Johnny Bench, Tony Perez and Pete Rose up close and personal. The Big Red Machine of the 1970s, which won two World Series championships, helped put Tampa on the map as a baseball hotbed. During the summer, as home of the Florida State League Tampa Tarpons, future baseball big-league stars plied their trades in front of the loyal and dedicated fans. Rose, for example, hit 30 triples and batted .331 for the Tarpons in 1961.


The Reds left Al Lopez Field for a new training site in Plant City in 1988, but the Tarpons played one final season as an affiliate for the White Sox. The Tampa Bay area’s quest for a Major League Baseball team of its own helped spell the end of Al Lopez Field, once considered as a site for a new domed stadium. Today, the former site of a Big Red Machine and baseball dreams is still a showcase for present and future stars, albeit in a different sport -- Raymond James Stadium, the home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

1 comment:

  1. in the 70s i remeber my game at forest hills little leage on a saturday.then going to the tampa tarpons game that night.pretty sure we got free tickets at winn dixie,great memories

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