October 10, 2012
Baseball’s roots in the Tampa area run deep. A new exhibit called “Béisbol: Tampa’s Love of the Game,” which Saint Leo University helped launch, will open Oct. 18 at the Ybor City Museum State Park.
The exhibit will highlight Tampa’s 125-year infatuation with béisbol, as it was known to the Latin players, whose early beginnings in Ybor City and West Tampa led to notable achievements by local players.
“You could say that when it came to this exhibit, Saint Leo ‘threw out the first pitch,” said Scott Morreale, assistant director of graduate admission, who was involved in initiating the project.
To kick off support and begin the process of gathering historical memorabilia, the university hosted the initial gathering of potential benefactors and baseball history enthusiasts at Tropicana Field last year.
“With the success of that event, local community leaders with strong ties to our baseball community came together to form the first-ever exhibit in Tampa dedicated to the history of this great game,” said Morreale.
Founded in 1889, Saint Leo University’s roots in the Tampa area run almost as deep as baseball’s. In addition, the university’s presence extends wide across the Tampa Bay area from University Campus 30 miles north of downtown Tampa, to MacDill Air Force Base, where the university has provided educational opportunities to military personnel and their families since 1973. Last year, Saint Leo opened its newest Education Center and Student Support Center in Tampa’s Channelside District.
The Ybor City Museum baseball exhibit will provide a view of Tampa’s Inter-social, Municipal, Cigar City, and Negro leagues, as well as the professional and semi-professional players who have been trained in Tampa’s rich Little League, high school, and college baseball traditions. It will include vintage photos, memorabilia, and colorful stories about Tampa’s fascination with baseball.
“Baseball greats such as Al Lopez, Tony La Russa, and Lou Piniella got their beginnings in Ybor City’s Cuscaden Park,” said Morreale. “This exhibit is sure to serve as inspiration for young players, who will learn about their hometown heroes.”