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Tampa Tarpons (1957–1988)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Tampa Tarpons
Tampa, Florida
Team logo
Minor league affiliations
Previous classes
LeagueFlorida State League
Major league affiliations
Previous teams
Minor league titles
League titles 3 (1957, 1959, 1961)
Team data
Previous names
  • Tampa White Sox (1988)
Previous parks
Al Lopez Field

The Tampa Tarpons were a minor league baseball team based in Tampa, Florida. Their home ballpark was Al Lopez Field, and they were a member of the Class A Florida State League (FSL) from 1955 until 1988, mostly as an affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. In 1988, they were sold, relocated, and renamed the Sarasota White Sox. During their run in Tampa, they won three FSL league championships, in 1957, 1959 and 1961.

For the 2018 season, the FSL Tampa Yankees revived the name when they were rebranded as the Tampa Tarpons.


Tampa has had a long history of minor league baseball, beginning in 1919, when the original Tampa Smokers began play as charter members of the Florida State League. The Smokers moved to the Florida International League before both the league and the team folded in 1954, temporarily leaving Tampa without a professional baseball team. The city built Al Lopez Field in 1954, and the Tampa Tarpons became the ballpark's first tenant when they began play there in 1955 as a new member of the Class D Florida State League.[1]

The Tarpons were an independent minor league team until 1957, when they became an affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies. In 1961, they began a long affiliation with the Cincinnati Reds. They won three league championships, in 1957, 1959 and 1961.[2] In 1964 minor league baseball was realigned, and the Florida State League became a Class A league (now Class A-Advanced).

During the 1980s talk spread of a major league team coming to the Tampa Bay Area, which would threaten the viability of the Tarpons and other minor league teams in the region.[3] Prior to the 1988 season the Reds moved their spring training from Tampa to Plant City, Florida, and moved their Class A franchise to Greensboro, North Carolina (the Greensboro Hornets). The Chicago White Sox subsequently moved their Class A affiliation to Tampa for the 1988 season, amid rumors that the major league White Sox would be moving to the area soon thereafter. That season the club, renamed the Tampa White Sox, drew 55,900 fans, seventh in the 14-team FSL, and went 35–35 in the first half before they won the western division second-half title at 36–24. They fell in the second round of the playoffs to the St. Lucie Mets 2 games to 0. The club was managed by Marv Foley and had one FSL All-Star, pitcher Jerry Kutzler. Foley won FSL Manager of the Year honors.[4]

After the 1988 season, owner Mitchell Mick sold his franchise to the Chicago White Sox, who relocated the club to Sarasota, Florida as the Sarasota White Sox.[5] The franchise exchanged major league affiliates and nicknames several times before 2010, when they became an affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates and were moved and renamed the Bradenton Marauders.

Meanwhile, Tampa was without professional baseball until the Tampa Yankees re-joined the Florida State League in 1994. After the 2017 season, that team rebranded itself as the Tarpons.[6]

Notable Tarpon alumni

Many former Tarpons went on to play in the major leagues, including important members of Cincinnati's Big Red Machine of the 1970s. In 1961 Pete Rose led the first place Tarpons with a .331 batting average and 30 triples – still a FSL record.[7] Other Reds players from that era who started with the Tarpons include Ken Griffey, Sr., Johnny Bench, Dan Driessen, Rawly Eastwick, and Dave Concepcion. When the Reds won their next world series in 1990 with manager (and Tampa native) Lou Piniella, they again had several former Tarpons on the roster, including Tom Browning, Rob Dibble, and Paul O'Neill.

Another notable former Tarpon was outfielder Randy Poffo, who gave up on a short minor league baseball career at the age of 21 after batting .232 with the team in 1974.[8] Poffo later become much more successful in professional wrestling, where he took on the stage name "Macho Man" Randy Savage.

Notable Tarpon players and coaches

Tampa Bay Rays connections

In 2006 the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, embarked on a rebranding effort that would include a name change; they considered adopting the Tampa Bay Tarpons name in honor of the minor league team before making the less radical step of shortening their nickname to simply the Rays in 2008.[9][10] The (Devil)-Rays have worn Tampa Tarpons uniforms for several "Turn Back the Clock" games:

See also


  1. ^ "Tampa Tarpons Move Into First". The Evening Independent. May 6, 1968. Retrieved August 27, 2012.
  2. ^ "Past Champions: Florida State League Champions". 2012. Retrieved August 27, 2012.
  3. ^ Fry, Darrell (July 2, 1988). "Tarpons, Cards react differently to White Sox Series: fsl". St. Petersburg Times.
  4. ^ BR Bullpen: Tampa White Sox
  5. ^ "Tampa Tarpons sold, moving to Sarasota". St. Petersburg Times. November 19, 1988. p. 5.C. Retrieved February 21, 2012.
  6. ^ Hill, Benjamin (December 11, 2017). "With Tarpons, Tampa throws back to the future". Retrieved December 11, 2017.
  7. ^ Putterbaugh, Travis (May 10, 2010). "Remembering the Tampa Tarpons". Tampa Sports History. Retrieved February 21, 2012.
  8. ^ "Randy Poffo career minor league statistics". Retrieved February 21, 2012.
  9. ^ "Name Could Be Big Change" - St. Pete Times, Jan 15, 2006
  10. ^ Rays usher in new era with new identity | News
  11. ^ "Lots of fun at the ballpark" - Ocala Star-Banner, July 20, 1999
  12. ^ Bill Chastain (2006-06-24). "Notes: Rays sport throwback duds: Club dons unis of '75 Tarpons for Turn Back the Clock Night".
  13. ^ "Rays will turn back the clock on Aug. 13" - St. Pete Times, July 1, 2010

External links

This page was last edited on 28 December 2020, at 14:52
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