The Rickwood Classic once again proved to be a win for the city of Birmingham. A crowd of 6,871 showed up to watch the Birmingham Barons play in temperatures just shy of 100 degrees on Wednesday, June 1. Center fielder Justin Greene hit a walk-off home run in the 11th inning to give the Barons a 4-3 win over the Chattanooga Lookouts.
The game turned out to be a win for the Barons, but it was also a win for the city of Birmingham. The Rickwood Classic is a chance for family and friends to gather to see a piece of the city’s history.
Rickwood Field is America’s Oldest Baseball Park and the first game was played at the park 100 years ago. It was once the home to The Birmingham Barons and the Birmingham Black Barons. Rickwood field even hosted football games for Samford, Alabama and Auburn before Legion Field was built.
Each Classic is setup to look like it was played back in the early years at Rickwood Field. Players wear jerseys that are replicas of a past team, and the umpires also dress the part. The billboards along the outfield wall feature companies ads that look like they are from 1930. You will also find old signs around the park like “No betting in this park” that give that extra feel of living in the past. Between innings, even old songs like Chubby Checker’s The Twist can be heard playing over the intercom.
You can also see pieces of Birmingham from sitting in the stands at Rickwood. If you sit down the first base line, you can look over third base and see Legion Field peaking over the trees. Also, you can look out over the left field wall and see the Bimingham skyline. Airplanes flying into Birmingham-Shuttlesworth Airport fly over the stadium before reaching the airport, and a train runs behind the right field wall, which usually can be seen at least once during a Rickwood Classic.
The Rickwood Classic is a piece of history in Birmingham that we should appreciate. It’s also something that should help shape the future of Birmingham. As long as the Barons continue to play the Rickwood Classic, it will be another small piece of tourism that will attract visitors to our great city. I hope to one day see Birmingham make changes to bring more people to this city, but for now we need to preserve the history in Birmingham, and let it help shape the future.