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Al Lopez : Tampa Great

Anybody in Tampa area knows of Al Lopez field. At 97, he got the chance to see his Sox win the big one. A great synopsis of the man can be found here:

"Doc Nance finally came up front to meet me. I sat there and talked to him a little bit and he says "Want to sign a contract?' I didn't know anything about what I was doing and I said 'Yeah, I'll sign a contract.' He said 'I'll give you $150 a month.' I said 'Fine, they're going to pay me to play baseball.' ''

And the rest is history.

Lopez set a record - eventually broken by Carlton Fisk - for catching more games in his career than any catcher in baseball history. He followed his playing career by becoming a manager widely acclaimed for his wisdom in handling pitching staffs. Under his direction, the Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox each advanced to the World Series.

Around Tampa, he has legendary status. He was the first big-time baseball star in a town that has produced dozens of big-leaguers. Al Lopez Field, the former spring home of the Cincinnati Reds, was razed in 1989. But the tribute lives on with nearby Al Lopez Park, where a bronze statue of Lopez as a catcher graces the corner of Himes Avenue and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Boulevard.