Historic Markers Across Florida

Plant Field

Marker ID:  
Location: on North Boulevard at the south end of the bleachers, Tampa, FL
County: Hillsborough
Coordinates: N 27° 56.855    W 082° 28.086
  27.94758333    -82.4681
Style: Free Standing **
Waymark: WMQ7EH


Side 1
The area encompassing The University of Tampa's baseball, track, and soccer facilities was known as Plant Field from early in the 20th century until the mid-1970s. Plant Field, named for railroad and hotel magnate Henry B. Plant, served as the site for significant sporting events and other community activities.

The one-half mile horse racing track that Plant built in the late 1890s was altered to accommodate dirt-track auto racing. From February 1921 until the mid-1970s, races were held each year during the South Florida Fair, later designated as the Florida State Fair. Along with talented local racers, the country's most famous drivers, including Jimmy Wilburn, Emory Collins, Gus Schrader, Ted Horn, Frank Luptow, Tommy Hinnershitz, and Bobby Grim, raced here during the winter months. Pete Folse, a local driver, became a national champion. Their cars were powered by engines made by Miller, Offenhause, and Riley, among others. Tampa became known as " The winter auto racing capital of the nation." Sadly several drivers lost their lives at Plant Field.

Plant Field was also the site for football games. On New Year's Day 1926, the Chicago Bears, starring Red Grange, defeated a team featuring Jim Thorpe. The University of Tampa played its

(Side 2)
home games on Plant Field from 1933 to 1936. Tampa high school teams also competed on Plant Field.

Plant Field served as the home for several major league baseball teams during spring training. The Chicago Cubs arrived in 1913 and returned each year through 1916. The Boston Red Sox played their home games at Plant Field in 1919, and Babe Ruth, playing for the Red Sox, hit the longest home run of his career during a game on this field. Plant Field was home for the Washington Senators during the 1920s, for the Detroit Tigers in 1930 and for the Chicago White Sox in 1954. The Cincinnati Reds played here the most seasons starting in the 1930s through 1954. In November 1950, an African- American all-star team, led by Jackie Robinson, played an exhibition game against the Tampa Rockets, a semi-professional African-American team. In the minor leagues, the Tampa Smokers played their home games at Plant Field.

In 1905, during the state fair, Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla paraded into Plant Field, a tradition that continued for decades. Presidential candidate Henry Wallace spoke at Plant Field in February 1948 and Paul Robeson sang at a Wallace rally at Plant Field in October. During the 1952 campaign, Dwight D. Eisenhower appeared at Plant Field.

This Plaque is dedicated to all those who performed and spoke here and, especially, to those car racers who lost their lives at Plant Field.

Hillsborough County Historical Advisory Council,
National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and Museum,
Tampa Bay Area Racing Association