FANDOM



Tampa Smokers

19191954 Tampa, Florida

[1]

Team Logo

[2]

Cap Insignia

Class-level
Minor league affiliations

Florida State League (1919-1927), Southeastern League (1929-1930), West Coast League (1932)

Major league affiliations
  • Independent
Name
Ballpark
Minor league titles
League titles 1920, 1925, 1946, 1949
Conference titles

The Tampa Smokers was a name used from 1919 to 1954 by a series of minor league and semi-professional baseball teams based in Tampa, Florida. The nickname was a nod to the local cigar industry, which was the most important industry in Tampa during the years in which the Smokers were active.

Florida State League


The original Tampa Smokers were a charter franchise of the Florida State League that started play in 1919. The name reflected the importance of the cigar industry to the Tampa area.[1] These Tampa Smokers moved to the Southeastern League in 1929 and officially ceased operations along with the league after the 1930 season. In 1932, the Smokers played in the short-lived West Coast Baseball League,[2][3] but disbanded again when the league collapsed after a single season.

Florida International League

The name was revived professionally for a final time in 1946, when the Tampa Smokers became a charter member of the Florida International League,[4] a Class C league that was notable for fielding a team in Havana, Cuba.[5] In 1952 this incarnation of the Tampa Smokers became one of the first three racially integrated teams in Florida, fielding black player Claro Duany.[6] These Smokers folded along with the Florida International League after the 1954 season.[6]

The importance of the cigar industry to Tampa's economy had waned by the 1950s. When minor league baseball returned to the city in 1957, the new team was called the "Tampa Tarpons".

Players

In all their incarnations, the Tampa Smokers featured many local ballplayers, including many Latin players from Ybor City and West Tampa, and usually had strong community support. Their most famous alumnus was Al Lopez, who grew up in Ybor City and signed with the Smokers in 1925, when he was just 16 years old.[7][8] Lopez played for his hometown team for two seasons and eventually became the first Tampa native to play in the major leagues, the first to be a major league baseball manager, and the first to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Other future MLB players who spent time with the Smokers included Jim Bagby and Camilo Pascual

Ballparks

The 1919-1930 Smokers played at Plant Field, a large outdoor sports facility built along the Hillsborough River by Henry B. Plant as part of his Tampa Bay Hotel resort. The 1946-1954 Smokers played at both Plant Field and nearby Phillips Field, a smaller facility that had been constructed in the mid-1930s.

Semi-pro and amateur teams

During times when there was no professional baseball team known as the Tampa Smokers (such as the early 1900s and the 1930s), the name was occasionally used by semi-pro or amateur squads, especially local all-star teams composed of the best Tampa-area players.[9] These Smokers usually played at smaller ballfields around town, especially Cuscaden Park in Ybor City [10] or Macfarlane Park in West Tampa.[9]

During the 1950s and 1960s, alumni of old Smokers squads often reunited for exhibition games. These games were usually against the Tampa Tarpons, who played in Al Lopez Field, a ballpark built in 1955 and named after the Smokers' (and Tampa's) most famous baseball figure.

Rays throwback uniforms

On July 2, 2011, the Tampa Bay Rays wore Tampa Smokers throwback uniforms to honor the 1951 Florida International League championship team.[13] In a controversial move, the Rays chose to remove the image of a cigar which had underlined the word "Smokers" across the front of the old team's jerseys, calling the resulting "stogie-free" logo a "slightly more contemporary version".

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.