Professional baseball and the Tampa Bay area have a longstanding history together. Far before the Rays were even an idea in someone's head, far before the establishment of Ybor City itself, baseball in Tampa began with a team the city, then a small fishing village, founded in the early 1880's.
The popularity of the sport in the area exploded with the proliferation in Cuban immigration solidifying the longstanding relationship between baseball and Tampa.
A lot has happened since then, and now, a ton of great artifacts and more between now and then are on display at the Ybor City Museum for their brand-new exhibit titled Béisbol: Tampa's Love of the Game.
The exhibit mostly highlights the Ybor City and West Tampa areas - two hotbeds for professional baseball in Tampa - while featuring notable baseball legends who've played, or grew up playing in the area including Tony LaRussa, Al Lopez, Lou Piniella, Wade Boggs, Dwight Gooden, Gary Sheffield, and Tino Martinez.
Béisbol: Tampa's Love of the Game features over 30 pieces of memorabilia throughout the years, each of which gives an interesting glimpse into the history of baseball and the city. Artifacts including a catcher's mitt worn and signed by Hall of Famer Al Lopez, a 1988 Team USA baseball hat worn by Tino Martinez, and a digital version of an 1885 letter from the first baseball team in the city.
Béisbol: Tampa's Love of the Game is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day from now through September of 2013. Admission is $4 per person. For more information, visit ybormuseum.org.