Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Alabama is believed to be the oldest professional baseball stadium in the United States, and during its 113 years of operation has hosted some of baseball’s greatest celebrities, including Babe Ruth and Willie Mays. I’ve been playing Located a short distance from the park.
Next year, the stadium will shine again as it hosts a Major League Baseball game between the San Francisco Giants and the St. Louis Cardinals. The match is scheduled for June 20, 2024.
Older than Fenway Park and Wrigley Field, Rickwood Field opened in 1910 and has been home to several teams over the decades, including the Negro American League Mays’ Birmingham Black Barons and minor league team Birmingham Barons. I came.
MLB announced the game Tuesday in its latest effort to showcase regular-season games in a unique environment. MLB calls it a specialty game, and an earlier version was held at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. At the College World Series in Omaha. And in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, it hosts the Little League World Series.
MLB also hosted two Field of Dreams games in Dyersville, Iowa, near the filming locations of the 1989 baseball-themed film Field of Dreams. The White Sox will face the Yankees in Dyersville in 2021, and the Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds got their turn in the cornfield last season. Due to construction of the venue, there are no Field of Dreams games scheduled for 2023.
MLB intends to schedule games at Rickwood Field to coincide with Juneteenth, and the games will feature a variety of activities celebrating the history of the black league and the game’s living great, Mays. said to be done.
Mays, 92, attended high school less than eight miles from Rickwood Field. In 1948, while still in school at the age of 17, he began his professional career with Black’s Barons. A year later, he signed with the New York Giants.
In a statement released by MLB, Mays said: I never thought in my lifetime I would see a Major League Baseball game played on the very field I played baseball on as a teenager. “
His statement concludes, “We can never forget how we got here. It was the Negro League for many of us.”
Seating approximately 11,000, Rickwood Field was built by Birmingham businessman Harvey Woodward, better known as Rick, and was modeled after Forbes Field in Pittsburgh and Shibe Park in Philadelphia. After opening on 18th August 1910, the Birmingham shop closed to celebrate the grand occasion.
Initially, the park hosted exhibition games with American and National League teams, including the Yankees, but Rickwood is home to a Southern League organization with star players like Pie Trainor and Burleigh Grimes. It was home to the Barons. In later years, Bo Jackson played for the Barons at Rickwood, and Michael Jordan also played during his baseball study abroad in 1994.
But much of the park’s most important history is with the Black Barons, a black league team with stars like Mule Suttles and Satchel Page. They have won more games at Birmingham than any other professional team.
In 1948, the Black Barons led the Mays to the final Negro World Series against the Homestead Grays. Grays won that series, but William Gleason, who later became the St. Louis Cardinals’ first black pitcher, took Birmingham’s only win. Gleason, 98, still lives in Birmingham and is pastor of Bethel Baptist Church, less than three miles from Rickwood Field.