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Why do they call it that? Fletcher Avenue and Plant Field | Community Spirit

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Why do they call it that? Fletcher Avenue and Plant Field
Why do they call it that? Fletcher Avenue and Plant Field

There's an explosive story behind the name of Fletcher Avenue. Plus, the spot in the heart of Tampa where the great Babe Ruth blasted a record home run.

Why do they call it Fletcher Avenue?

Nobody's sure.

But three Tampa Bay historians -- Paul Camp, Leland Hawes, and Mark Greenberg -- agree it's most likely named for Fred Fletcher.

He came to Tampa just before 1900, and worked for what would eventually become Tampa Electric Company, or TECO.

His big project was managing the concrete for the first electricity-producing dam across the Hillsborough River. It was built -- and promptly blown up.

It seems cattle ranchers were mighty angry. The dam had flooded the electric company land they had been using to graze their cattle.

Their answer was dynamite.

The Fletcher behind Fletcher Avenue could also be Fred's son, Eliot.

An architect, Eliot designed the east wing of Tampa General Hospital and the Palma Ceia Golf and Country Club.

And Fletcher Avenue's namesake may be neither of those guys.

A historian from USF looked at an old atlas from 1916, and he found that a man named S.S. Fletcher owned a plot of land in North Tampa.

We know nothing else about the man, except that the land he owned was very close to where Fletcher Avenue was eventually built.

Also check out the story of Fletcher Avenue's pal, Fowler Avenue, one of Tampa's only streets named for a woman.

Why do they call it Plant Field?

Just west of the University of Tampa's Plant Hall, Plant Field once covered the ground where UT's soccer stadium is today.

"Plant Field was the site of Spring Training early in Tampa's Spring Training history," said Rodney Kite-Powell, curator of history at the Tampa Bay History Center.

That now-vanished field still hangs on to a claim to fame.

"In 1919, a young player for the Boston Red Sox -- a man named George Herman Ruth, Babe Ruth, hit the longest home run of his career -- so we think -- at Plant Field," Kite-Powell said.

The Bambino's ball sailed 587 feet before hitting the ground. That's more than one-tenth of a mile.

Evan Longoria's first home run of the 2010 season was the longest homer he had ever hit at Tropicana Field.

Computer estimates of that homer say if Longoria had hit it outdoors at Plant Field, Evan's bomb would have landed more than 100 feet short of the Babe's blast!

As for the origins of the ballpark's name? "Plant Field itself was named for Henry Plant, who built the Tampa Bay Hotel and brought the railroad here," Kite-Powell said.

Why do they call it that? Now you know.

If you want to ask "Why do they call it that?" send an e-mail with a name that has you curious to Grayson Kamm using this link.

We'll be featuring new places and stories each Wednesday on 10 News. Watch them on The Morning Show from 5-7 a.m. and on 10 News at 5:30 p.m.

Check out previous editions of "Why do they call it that?" plus links to photos and maps from Tampa Bay's past at our "Why do they call it that?" website: wtsp.com/callitthat



Connect with 10 News multi-media journalist Grayson Kamm
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