MUSIC - Sweet home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd
Photographed in 1991 and 1997 using film.
Rickwood Field - Opened in 1910 and still in use. Location - 1137 2nd Ave. West Birmingham, Alabama.
Welcome to the oldest surviving professional baseball park left in the United States. Located in the heart of Dixie, Birmingham Alabama.
Baseball from a bygone era. Rickwood field was the home for the Birmingham Barons for 77 years. Rickwood field is located at the corner of Second Ave. West and 11th St., west. Rickwood is a short distance from legendary Legion field, the onetime part time home to the University of Alabama. Many Iron bowl games between Alabama and Auburn were played at Legion field.
Built in 1910 by Barons owner Rick Woodward, it was patterned after Forbes field in Pittsburgh. The Barons were not the only major tenant. The Birmingham Black Barons played here from 1920 thru 1960. The Black Barons had some great players from the old Negro league. Bill Foster, "Double duty" Radciffe, Lyman Bostock, Sr., "Piper"Davis, Satchel Page, and a local boy from nearby Westfield Alabama. You may have heard of him. His name is Willie Mays.
The Barons had their share of great players grace the field at Rickwood. Vida Blue, Reggie Jackson, Sal Bando, Darrell Evans, Burleigh Grimes, Howard Johnson and Pie Traynor were just a few of the future stars of major league baseball that played in Birmingham.
The Barons finally left Rickwood field after the 1987 season. Basically, the city of Birmingham had not taken care of Rickwood. It was in dire need of repair. They moved to a brand new facility in nearby Hoover Alabama. Hoover metropolitan stadium may be new, but it will never match the memories or old time baseball feel of Rickwood field.
Enter the "friends of Rickwood." Since 1992, this group has been painstakingly restoring Rickwood to its former glory. The old press box on the roof behind home plate had to be torn down, due to the fact it was falling apart. They have done a great job bringing the old park back to life.
In 1994 the move Cobb was filmed at Rickwood. Tommy Lee Jones played the notorious Ty Cobb and Robert Wuhl played writer Al Stump. Robert Wuhl was also in the movie Bull Durham. That movie was filmed at the Durham Athletic park in Durham, North Carolina.
If you find yourself in Birmingham Alabama with an hour to kill, drop by Rickwood field. It will bring you back to old time baseball. You can sit in the stands and imagine Satchel Page on the mound, or an 18 year old Willie Mays running in center.
I am so glad someone decided to do something about Rickwood field and NOT let it fall to the wreckers ball. Let's hope that some group up in Detroit does the same thing, and saves Tiger stadium from being reduced to rubble.
The main entrance to Rickwood field. Sept 1991
Map of the area. You can see how close Rickwood Field is to Legion Field. From internet.
The right field stands. From this shot, you can see the similarities to Forbes field in Pittsburgh. Sept 91
An abandoned concession stand behind third base. This will be torn out when they refurbish Rickwood field. Sept 91
The rooftop pressbox stairwell. This will also be removed when the park is renovated. Sept 91
The stairwell to the pressbox on the roof. Sept 91
The pressbox on the roof. Sept 91
Looking out of the broadcast booth down the third base line. Sept 91
The Barons former offices, abandoned in 1991. Sept 1991
Water damage, broken glass and plaster falling from the ceiling make the Barons former offices a disaster. Sept 91
Inside the broadcast booth of the Barons. Sept 91
The first base side and the old sign for the Barons. Sept 91
In back of the right field fence. Sept 91
Under the third base stands. Sept 91
Willie Mays view from centerfield. Sept 91
Greats from Satchel Page to Willie Mays used this bunker like dugout. Sept 91
The view from the first base dugout. Sept 91
In 1991 the city of Birmingham used the park to store school buses. Sept 91
The concourse behind home plate. You can see the concession stand to the left. Sept 91
The Southern league championship pennants for the Barons. Sept 91
The green door to the right is the door to the Barons old clubhouse. Sept 91
Storage under the stands. Sept 91
The view of the stairwell to the rooftop pressbox. Sept 91
The entrance to Rickwood. You can see the turnstiles. Sept 91
You can see the ticket booths in the background. You get your tickets and pass thru to the main concourse. Sept 91
A ticket booth and a locked gate at the main entrance. Sept 91
Part of the press box on the roof. After the renovation, the pressbox will be torn down. Sept 91
The delapadated fence and scoreboard. The fenc will be fixed, and the scoreboard will be replaced. Sept 91
A storage area underneath the right field stands. Sept 91
Weeds growing in back of right field. Sept 91
Under the right field stands. Sept 91
The overall panoramic view from the pressbox. Sept 91
The Barons dugout down the first base line. Sept 91
The visitors dugout down third base. Sept 91
The historical marker for Rickwood field. April 1997
The refurbished entrance to Rickwood field. April 97
The ticket booths are still there but locked up. April 97
The old advertising signs were used in the 1994 movie Cobb. They just left them up. April 97
A view of that same right field storage area that I shot in 91. April 97
The old fashoned scoreboard installed for the movie Cobb. April 97
The concession stand picture from 1991. Its 6 years later and now the concession stand has been demolished. April 97
The refurbished entrance. April 97
Rickwood field is a jewel. There aren't many minor league parks like this left. Most have been replaced by the modern retro parks. I will always have a soft spot for the old parks like Rickwood field, Durham athletic park, and Engel stadium in Chattanooga. Let's hope Rickwood field lasts another 100 years. On a scale of 1 to 10, I give Rickwood field a 10 due to the history and the fact they are keeping it the way it was.