• Steve Potter

6/14/2020 - Phillies Minor League History - The Tampa Tarpons


Time Period - 1957 to 1960


Venue : Al Lopez Field


City : Tampa, FL


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Franchise History :


The Tampa Smokers professional baseball club were founded in 1919 as a charter member of the newly formed Florida State League (FSL ). The franchise lasted thru the 1954 season and played in various leagues during their existence : FSL, Southeastern League, West Coast Baseball League & the Florida International League.


The Tarpons franchise was born in 1955 to replace the Smokers and began play in the FSL that summer in a brand new venue ( Al Lopez Field ). They played as an independent team till 1957 when the Phillies became their first affiliated sponsor. The Fightin’s franchise alignment stayed till the end of the 1960 season. The Cincinnati Reds became the affiliation in 1961, it became a long time association that lasted thru 1987. In 1988, the last year of the original Tampa Tarpons Franchise, the Chicago White Sox were the affiliation albeit the team name was changed to the Tampa White Sox.


The White Sox bought the franchise rights and the following season moved to Sarasota, FL. In 2010 the franchise moved again ... this time to Bradenton and became the Bradenton Marauders, an affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates.


The New York Yankees re-instituted a FSL franchise in Tampa in 1994 as the Tampa Yankees. They changed their team name to the Tarpons before the 2018 season.


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The Stadium the Phillies teams played in :


Al Lopez Field was built in 1954, it was named for the first Tampa native to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame ... he was a player ( 1928 to 1947 ) and manger ( Tigers & White Sox ) in the major leagues.


The stadium was built at North Dale Mabry Highway and Dr. Martin Luther King Boulevard with a maximum capacity of 8,500. Field dimensions were 342 to LF, 410 to CF and 342 to RF. It served as the spring training home of the Chicago White Sox from 1955 to 1960 and the Cincinnati Reds from 1961 to 1987. It was termed a “squatty dinosaur” by a local writer when it was built ... similar to Miami Stadium ( built in 1949), Al Lopez Field was known for its cantilevered grandstand with no support beams.


It also served as the home field for the Minor League Tampa Tarpons franchise from 1955 to 1988.


The stadium was razed in 1989 and the site is now the location of Raymond James Stadium ( opened in 1998 ) - the home of the NFL Tampa Buccaneers.


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The Seasons :


1957

Florida State League (D ) ... Manager : Charlie Gassaway ... 84-54, 1st place ... Attendance: 46,601. League Champions - defeated the Palatka Redlegs 3 games to 1 in Championship Series


The club had four future or prior major leaguers on the roster ... 18 year old 3B Ed Olivares ( he would play 24 games in the majors for the 1960/61 Cardinals ), 19 year old outfielder Tony Curry ( he would play parts of three seasons in the majors with the Phillies and Indians beginning in 1960 ) and veteran 30 year old LHP Chris Van Cuyk who had pitched in the majors with the Dodgers from 1950 to 1952. Coach Bitsy Mott ( 39 years old ) was pressed into action for three games ... he had played one big league season with the Phillies back in 1945.


1958


Florida State League (D ) ... Manager : Charlie Gassaway ... 74-69, 4th place ... Attendance: 42,683.


No players on the roster reached the major leagues ... 28 year old first baseman Pete Fannon posted a .306 batting average with 11 home runs and 62 RBIs in 242 AB’s


1959


Florida State League (D ) ... Manager : Charlie Gassaway ... 78-55, 1st place ... Attendance: 89,068. Lost in Championship Series to the St. Petersburg Saints 4 games to 2.


20 year old RHP John Boozer posted a 12-15 mark with a 3.33 ERA ( 208 IP) and tossed 16 complete games in 27 starts. He would play in the major leagues in parts of seven seasons with the Phillies from 1962 to 1969.


1960


Florida State League (D ) ... Manager : Moose Johnson ... 68-67, 4th place ... Attendance: 76,616.


19 year old catcher Pat Corrales played in 128 games garnering 488 plate appearances and posting a .246 batting average. The defensive standout would go on to play in parts of nine big league seasons beginning in 1964 with the Phillies, Cardinals, Reds and Padres. He would also become a big league manager with the Texas Rangers ( 1978 to 1980 ), Phillies ( 1982 to 1983 ) and the Cleveland Indians ( 1983 to 1987 ) as well as serving in various coaching, scouting and player development roles with multiple clubs.


Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️

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