YBOR CITY — The creation of the Tampa Baseball Museum at the Al Lopez House moved forward recently with the presentation of the keys and the transfer of the deed to a nonprofit organization.
The city of Tampa transferred ownership to the Ybor City Museum Society in a Sept. 23 ceremony, attended by government officials and supporters of the project.
The house, where Hall of Fame member Al Lopez lived 50 years, was moved from West Tampa to 2003 N. 19th St. in May and is expected to open as a museum in the spring.
Steve Barbas, chairman of the society’s board, said the transfer is “another major milestone” in creating the museum on what Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin Beckner called “an amazing, amazing journey.”
Beckner added that the museum “will unlock the rich history baseball has brought to our city.”
The museum is expected to cover more than 125 years of baseball heritage using permanent and rotating exhibits focused on Tampa baseball, including Little League, Major League, intersocial groups, Negro Leagues and more.
Beckner said 80 professional players have come from Tampa.
Tampa City Council member Charlie Miranda said Lopez, was the first Hall of Fame member from Tampa, and started his career 85 years ago on Sept. 27, 1928, playing for the Brooklyn Robins. He later became a manager, winning 1,410 games. He died in 2005.
“But it not about what he accomplished on the field, but what he accomplished when he came home,” Miranda said, adding that he helped establish many of the youth programs and facilities in the area.
With the transfer, the museum society can oversee rehabilitation of the home into a museum, using a $250,000 preservation grant and donations from businesses, organizations and individuals. The society also is collecting memorabilia for the exhibits.
For information about the museum, visit www.TampaBaseballMuseum.org or call (813) 247-1434.