If sports and history are two things that interest you, then you will not want
to pass on the chance to visit Rickwood Field the next time you find yourself
in Birmingham Alabama. Due
to the fact that Rickwood Field is the oldest remaining professional baseball
park in the country, it proudly carries the adage of America's Oldest Ballpark.
Built way back in 1910, it originally served as the home for the Birmingham
Barons and the Birmingham Black Barons. Though it has largely been retired from
its past life as a baseball facility, Rickwood Field still manages to draw in
curious visitors. More a museum than a sports venue these days, Rickwood Field
gives visitors the opportunity to explore a rich slice of America's sporting
past. This is a place where past greats like Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, and Willie
Mays once played, so it's got plenty of history to boast about.
As mentioned, Rickwood Field in Birmingham Alabama was once home to two professional baseball teams. The Birmingham Barons were one of those teams, and they played in the early Southern Leagues that were restricted to white players. The other team that used Rickwood Field back in the day was the Birmingham Black Barons, who played in the Negro Leagues between the years of 1920 and 1960. It was in 1960 that the Major Leagues ended segregated baseball, which meant an end to the Black Barons. The Birmingham Barons and the Birmingham Black Barons used to alternate home games at America's Oldest Ballpark, and you might be interested to know that the Black Barons usually drew in larger crowds, not to mention an equal amount of press. That's not hard to understand when you consider the fact that such baseball greats as Willie Mays and Satchel Paige once played for the Black Barons. You might also be interested to know that country music great, Charley Pride, once played for the Black Barons as well.
While the Birmingham Black Barons are now defunct, you can still see the Birmingham Barons play when in town. A minor league team for the Chicago White Sox, the Birmingham Barons now play their games at Regions Park, however, which can be found in the suburb of Hoover. Coincidentally, the Riverchase Galleria is also found in Hoover if you are looking to make a full day of things when hanging out in the area. While Regions Park can be found in the suburb of Hoover, you'll find Rickwood Field closer to downtown Birmingham. As such, when you plan a trip to Rickwood Field in Birmingham Alabama, you'll be able to pair the experience with other great downtown attractions. These attractions include the Civil Rights District, which also offers visitors the chance to gain further insight into America's segregated past.
Due to the historical importance of Rickwood Field in Birmingham Alabama, it figures on the National Register of Historic Places. You can hardly miss it due to its mission-style design and its signature green color. August 18, 1910, was the first opening day at Rickwood Field, and more than 10,000 people were in attendance for the event. The venue's popularity hardly waned over the following decades, as sellout crowds were typical for both the Birmingham Barons and the Birmingham Black Barons. Interestingly enough, Rickwood Field was also a college football venue in the 1920s, so it's storied past isn't only tied to baseball. While you can no longer catch baseball or college football games at Rickwood Field in Birmingham Alabama, there is a special yearly throwback event that might interest you. Alabama events don't get much more interesting than the yearly throwback games at Rickwood Field, which have been going on since 1996. To make the yearly throwback games more authentic, the players wear period uniforms. Should you be in attendance for one of these games, you might find yourself wondering what decade it is.
Thanks to the Friends of Rickwood and to a couple of baseball-related movies that were partly filmed at Rickwood Field, America's Oldest Ballpark has been lovingly restored. Catching a throwback game here is about as good as it gets for baseball enthusiasts. The Friends of Rickwood have been restoring the venue since 1992, and in addition to hosting throwback games, the organization also hosts amateur games for locals to enjoy. Sometimes, the Friends of Rickwood even open the gates to visitors who are interested in little more than touring the grandstands and running around the bases. While you're rounding the bags at America's Oldest Ballpark, you might imagine that you just hit a home run off of Babe Ruth or Satchel Paige! There could hardly be a bigger joy for baseball fans who are already enjoying a fun-filled Alabama vacation.