Today we attended a ballgame in the oldest ballpark in America, and it was a fantastic experience! From 1910 to 1987 the Birmingham Barons of the class AA Southern League played their home games at old Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Alabama. In 1988, the Barons moved to modern Regions Park in suburban Hoover, Alabama and that’s been the team’s home field since then.
For one game each season, the Barons forsake their modern home at Regions Park and return to their ancient home at Rickwood Field. The single game that the Barons play at Rickwood Field each season is known as the “Rickwood Classic”. The 2010 Rickwood Classic was played today and we were there to see it.
Rickwood Field is the oldest ballpark in America. Yes, it is older than Wrigley Field and Fenway Park. This year, Rickwood Field celebrates its 100th anniversary. This was the first time that any ballpark celebrated a 100th anniversary.
There’s so much history in Rickwood Field that it is difficult to summarize it well.
In the shameful days of segregated baseball, the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro Leagues also played their home games at old Rickwood Field. Several generations of African-American ballplayers were denied the chance to play major league ball because of the color of their skin, and many of those players played ball and excelled on the grounds of Rickwood Field. At today’s Rickwood Classic, a few dozen players from the old Negro Leagues were introduced on the field prior to the game.
Today’s ballgame, featuring the Birmingham Barons and the Tennessee Smokies, was scheduled for 12:35 PM and the gates opened at 11:00 AM. We arrived at 10:50 AM and we thought we’d be among the first to arrive, but hundreds of people were there ahead of us. When we entered Rickwood Field, we had 90 minutes to check out this famous ballpark before the game started.
The final score of the 2010 Rickwood Classic was Tennessee 8, Birmingham 7, in 11 innnings. Box Score
When the ballgame ended, all fans were invited on to the field to explore, take photos, etc. We took advantage of that opportunity.
This was an excellent day. We saw a ballgame in the oldest ballpark in the country, we participated in the ballpark’s 100th anniversary, the ballgame went into extra innings, and we got to walk on the field after the ballgame. This was a tremendous way to wrap up our vacation. On the following day we flew home to California from Atlanta, Georgia.