Al Lang...the name rings a bell to some in St Pete, but to others he may've well been your 4th Grade teacher.
Who was Al Lang?
Why does St Pete have a soccer stadium named after him?
Al Lang had a tremendous impact on St Pete back when the Sunshine City was just finding it's legs and transforming from a small fishing community to a full fledged city. Al Lang was much more than "Mr. Baseball"...
Born in Pittsburg, Pa. Al Lang ended up running the largest laundry in the Steel City (getting to know many of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the process) before being told by his doctor that at the age of 39 he only had 6 months to live. He sold the business and he and his wife moved... to Ft Myers to live out the rest of his remaining days.
Why Ft Myers? I dunno, but...
Within 4 days Lang decided Ft Myers wasn't all that and a bag of chips, so the couple moved 'back up north' to St Pete, bought a house and never looked back.
Al Lang became a tireless promoter of St Petersburg. He used his connections with baseball to bring the St Louis Browns to town for Spring training in 1914. The Phillies came to St Pete for Spring training the next year and after winning the NL pennant they returned for 2 more years. Over the course of 7 decades St Pete has hosted the Braves, Yankees, Cardinals, Giants, Mets, Orioles and the Rays. At times St Pete has been host to 2 teams for Spring training. But as I said Al Lang was more than baseball.
Six years after he was told he had less than a year to live, Lang was elected mayor of St Pete in 1916. As mayor, he was involved in:
Al Lang passed away in 1960 at the age of 89... living 50 years beyond what was thought to be a terminal illness.
Maybe he got a second doctor's opinion...or perhaps St Pete truly is a Health City...
In 1947 the waterfront baseball stadium was named Al Lang Stadium and dedicated to "Mr. Baseball". In 2014 after going back and forth with multiple proposed uses for the the stadium and public land (new Rays ballpark, condos, retain it as a baseball field...) it has been transformed primarily into a soccer field for the NASL Tampa Bay Rowdies but Al Lang's name lives on.
Rev B has nearly been published multiple times and has received letters of rejection from Highlights, Jet Magazine, Dear Abby and The New Yorker. While accepting full responsibility for all grammatical errors he makes no claims of being an author. Please enjoy the entries found here and use the search function if you're looking for something more specific.