The Tampa Bay Rays opened their 2008 run to the American League Pennant by selecting Walter Lee “Dirk” Gibbons with their first pick in the draft. Even for an organization with a reputation for smart draft picks, this one proved exceptional, if somewhat belated. “Dirk” Gibbons, after all, had long since seen his fastball velocity decline, and the break in his curve ball dwindle. Then 79, his playing days were long past. He and his Tampa Rockets’ teammates were pioneers however and the Rays, by selecting him first in the Negro Leagues Draft, honored the legacy of the Florida State Negro Leagues in Tampa Bay’s baseball history
If Ybor City's backbone was its cigar factories, Cuscaden Park was its heart. The park still exists today, though it is a faint shadow of its former self. Its 500-seat capacity grandstand was demolished, and its baseball fields gave way to soccer fields. To drive past the park today, some would never know that this field was once Ybor City's Field of Dreams.
Long before Mayor Dick Greco was attempting to become the oldest Mayor in the history of Tampa, he was the youngest. Before he boasted of the experience he would bring to the mayoral position, he was the mayor with little experience. Before he was a political legend with his own statue, he had to defeat a political legend that was posthumously honored with a statue. Before he became Mayor Dick Greco, he had to defeat Mayor Nick Nuccio in the 1967 mayoral election, one of the hottest elections the city of Tampa has ever seen, an election that billed the young, handsome upstart against the old political legend. It was a heavyweight battle that changed the history of the city of Tampa forever. And it was a battle that started in 1963 when Mayor Dick Greco was known as City Councilman Dick Greco.
January 10, 2011, marked the 150th anniversary of Florida’s secession from the United States. Florida followed South Carolina and Mississippi and was the third state to leave the Union. The Civil War began three months later when Southern forces fired on Union-held Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor. The opening shots of the war were almost directed at Fort Pickens in Pensacola Harbor, but President Abraham Lincoln decided to resupply the South Carolina fort instead.
As a young man, Giuseppe R. Ferlita dreamed of immigrating to America and becoming successful. In 1905, Giuseppe, with only a third-grade education, arrived at Ellis Island as a teenager. Emigrating from Santo Stefano Quisquina, Sicily, with his family, he joined relatives who had previously settled in Tampa. Giuseppe first worked as a cigar maker until his father purchased a bakery in West Tampa. During this period, he married his childhood sweetheart, Maria Paola Ficarrotta.