If ever you hear someone say that Tampa Bay just isn't a baseball area, that there's no history of the game there, or that the South is too college-football obsessed to notice a gentleman's sport (no, actually, I've never quite heard that last one, but it's often hovering), there's something you should immediately conclude: The speaker doesn't know what he's talking about.
To discount the Tampa Bay area's history of baseball is to discount the vibrant and diverse history of baseball as a whole, from the Negro Leagues to the ethnic and company teams of the Cigar City League, where Spanish, Cuban, and Italian immigrants played after finishing their work in the cigar factories.
Hall-of-Fame catcher and manager Al Lopez came out of those "Latin leagues," and was central to the integration Major League Baseball, both through his own groundbreaking career and his managing of the Cleveland Indians while Larry Doby was busy breaking the color barrier in the American League.
An exhibit running through November 15th at the Ybor City Museum Society, entitled Béisbol: Tampa's Love of the Game chronicles that history, but the museum would love to give it a permanent home.
To that end, they've acquired Al Lopez's house, and a place to put it, but they need to raise some money to move the house and turn it into The Tampa Baseball Museum. I think this is a pretty cool project.
The Society has already raised $195,000 for the project, according to Jordan Raynor, a Co-founder of Citizinvestor, some of which is included in the Citizinvestor total shown below.
To qualify for a matching grant from Hillsborough county, they need to raise an additional $55,000 (plus an 8% fee), so if you think the project is worthwhile, give a bit, and it might go a long way.
If you're interested in contributing, you can donate through citizinvestor.com, and nothing will be deducted unless the goal is met. You can also give directly to the project at www.tampabaseballmuseum.org.