A visit to Rickwood Field in recent weeks has meant seeing a structure being constructed out in foul territory around short left field where a metal shed once stood. Construction continues, with hopes of it being mostly complete in time for next week Wednesday’s Rickwood Classic between the Birmingham Barons and the Mississippi Braves, but they’re in need of $25,000 to do so.
The building, a train depot formerly located in downtown Birmingham along 14th St. N., has been given a new lease on life as a batting cage for America’s oldest ballpark. It was seen as a win for preservationists who’d wanted to see the structure preserved as part of a new Alagasco operations center after its demolition had been approved by the city’s Design Review Committee in January. The plans for the building were announced shortly after demolition had begun this spring.
Alagasco has worked with general contractor Stewart Perry Construction and the nonprofit organization the Friends of Rickwood on the building’s move — one that will include being used by Birmingham city high schools and Miles College. A Razoo donation page has been set up for several weeks now, and the campaign has one week left. They’re asking for people to share the link and the story with as many people as possible.
If you’re lucky enough to get over to Regions Field today, you’ll see work crews putting finishing touches on the $40 million facility. They were busy this morning doing things like installing this signage above the ballpark’s main entrance at the intersection of 14th Street and 1st Avenue South.
The public will get a chance to formally explore and admire their handiwork for the first time at 5 p.m. when the gates open and the buzz leading up to the Birmingham Barons‘ 2013 home opener will reach its climax. The ballpark, part of a larger $69 million project for the area currently set to include a museum looking at Birmingham’s Negro Leagues history, gives the city a pretty unique honor until next April. Until the Charlotte Knights finally move into North Carolina at that time (no, we’re not kidding), Birmingham can lay claim to being the home of both the oldest ballpark in the country (Rickwood Field) and the newest.
Obscure trivia knowledge aside, this will no doubt lead some die hard baseball fans to make the pilgrimage down here for the five-game Barons home stand against the Tennessee Smokies beginning May 28. The following day’s game will be the 18th annual Rickwood Classic. This means fans could see games in both the oldest and newest ballparks in the country on consecutive days if they so chose this year. Pretty cool, huh?
Local media outlets are doing extensive coverage of today’s festivities, with all of the local television stations placing reporters there throughout the day and both The Birmingham News and the Birmingham Business Journal running pieces about what not to miss.
First pitch for the sold-out game is at 7:05 p.m. and it will be available via WERC-FM (105.5 FM and online via live stream).
Of course, the real question is whether or not you’re going to any of the games during this first homestand…
America’s – and the world’s – oldest ballpark officially turned 100 years old on Wednesday afternoon and The Friends of Rickwood Field organized a celebration befitting the occasion.
Unfortunately the weather didn’t exactly want to cooperate to allow a three-inning exhibition game to be played.
Hundreds still gathered under the grandstand attempting to stay dry while they heard words from Birmingham mayor William Bell’s chief of staff Chuck Faush and A.H. “Rick” Woodward III, grandson of the park’s builder, among others. A new sign from the state tourism office was unveiled, joining the historical marker already located in front of the ballpark’s main entrance. The video up above is of former Birmingham Barons owner Art Clarkson reading a letter from the team’s current parent club, the Chicago White Sox.
Incidentally, the demolition of the Sox’s former home, Comiskey Park, back in 1991, led to Rickwood’s current designation.
Today the Birmingham Barons announced who their special guest would be for the 15th annual Rickwood Classic.
Minnesota Twins Hall of Fame first baseman Harmon Killebrew will be in attendance at the game, part of plans to celebrate the 100th anniversary of America’s oldest ballpark, is currently scheduled to be held on Wednesday, June 2 starting at 12:30 p.m. The announcement was posted on the Barons’ website earlier this afternoon.
The Barons, wearing their uniforms from their 1910 season, will host the Tennessee Smokies. The visitors will wear uniforms from the 1914 season when they were known as the Appalachian Smokies.
The game’s considered one of the best minor league games in the country and it was recognized as the best via a poll conducted on milb.com last season. Incidentally, the Barons are also looking for folks to submit their memories of Rickwood Field for use in the 2010 programs, including via their Facebook group.
Photo: Harmon Killebrew, 573 HR. NJ Baseball/Flickr
Just in case you don’t already know, America’s oldest ballpark, Rickwood Field, will be hosting the 14th annual Rickwood Classic tomorrow (Wednesday, May 27) afternoon beginning at 12:35 p.m. Our Birmingham Barons will take on the Mississippi Braves and taking a look back to 1982. Former Braves broadcaster Pete Van Vieren is scheduled to throw out the first pitch.
Check out Josh Self’s memories of attending the landmark facility on Birmingham’s West side over on My Birmingham. You may also want to check out this year’s poster for the Classic and find out more about the ballpark and its place in history over at its official website.
Posted in Sports
Tagged 2009, Alabama, baseball, Birmingham, event, information, MILB, My Birmingham, Rickwood Classic, Rickwood Field, west side
The Birmingham City Council just voted on items pertaining to a potential restoration project for America’s oldest ballpark, Rickwood Field.
The ballpark is located on Birmingham’s West Side and will turn 100 years old next spring. The following was taken verbatim from the City’s Facebook group, as sent by Alicia Brown:
“Mayor Langford has proposed the formation of the Baseball Museum that will honor both the Negro Baseball League and the Southern League. Some Council members expressed concern about the “change in scope” by including the white leagues, but Mayor Langford explained that Birmingham has matured and is ready to recognize all of its history. Council voted a resolution to support the museum, but did not approve funding, delaying the project.“
Posted in On the agenda, Sports
Tagged AL, Alabama, baseball, Birmingham, delay, hall of fame, Larry Langford, Negro League, politics, project, restoration, Rickwood Field, Southern League, Sports