TAMPA, FL. - Whenever Chantal Hevia walks into the Tampa Baseball Museum at the Al Lopez House she hopes that her guest will get the same feeling she has: like they’re walking back in time.

“I think they’re transformed into an era of baseball that is so remarkable and spans over 135 years of our local baseball heritage,” said Hevia.

Al Lopez was the first Tampa-born player to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Hevia, who is the president and CEO of the museum, likes to take guests on a journey chronicling Lopez’s life as well as the early parts of baseball in Tampa, which include cigar factory workers from all over coming together to play the game.

“Baseball became the universal language,” Hevia said.

For Hevia and so many baseball is a permanent part of the fabric that is Tampa. While Hevia loves looking up close at the history she loves doing something else more: Hevia sits on a bench in the middle of the museum taking in all the different points of history that connect baseball with society.

But Hevia says the coolest part of the museum is the wall of 89 baseballs; each one signed by a Tampa born player who made it all the way to the majors; 87 of those baseball were donated from the personal collection of the late Gaither baseball coach Frank Permuy.

“When people look at this they say ‘oh my god’ every single one of those balls represent a player from Tampa and Hillsborough County,” said Hevia.

Spring Training has also been another part of Tampa baseball history. Throughout the years seven MLB teams, at one point or another, have called Tampa their spring home. Of course, there is one team Tampa would really like to get.

That would be the Tampa Bay Rays who have at least flirted with the idea of moving to Ybor City.  Hevia says it would be a match made in heaven.

“Our team would then be where baseball started in Tampa, in earnest, and that would just be so cool to continue the next chapter – build the next chapter – on something that started 135 years ago,” said Hevia.

Chantal Hevia believes the Tampa Baseball Museum is not only here to look back on what has happened, but on what is ahead. She believes Tampa’s baseball history is just getting started.

“We have a very big history to tell and to continue to build on,” said Hevia.