Rickwood Field: The oldest Professional Baseball Field

Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Alabama, is a historic baseball park that holds the distinction of technically being the oldest professional baseball park still in use in the United States because the minor league team the Birmingham Barons play one game there a year. Constructed in 1910, Rickwood Field has witnessed over a century of baseball history and cultural changes, earning its place as a revered landmark in the world of sports.

The stadium was initially built for the Birmingham Barons, a minor league baseball team, and it has hosted numerous teams and events throughout its storied existence. Rickwood Field became an integral part of the Southern Association, a prominent minor league that operated for many years. The park was witness to the rise of baseball legends and the development of aspiring players who went on to achieve greatness in the major leagues.

One of the notable features of Rickwood Field is its classic design, reflective of early 20th-century ballparks. The red-brick exterior, wooden grandstand, and manually operated scoreboard contribute to the stadium's timeless charm. The ambiance of the field transports visitors to an era when baseball was not just a sport but a cultural phenomenon.

In addition to its significance in the realm of baseball, Rickwood Field played a role in the civil rights movement. During the era of segregation, the stadium hosted integrated teams, and its use as a venue for racially integrated games challenged the prevailing norms of the time.

Over the years, Rickwood Field has faced challenges, including threats of demolition, but dedicated efforts by preservationists and baseball enthusiasts have ensured its survival. The Friends of Rickwood, a non-profit organization, has been instrumental in the ongoing restoration and maintenance of the historic ballpark.

One of the unique traditions associated with Rickwood Field is the annual Rickwood Classic, a vintage baseball game that pays homage to the history of the park. Players wear throwback uniforms, and the game is played using equipment and rules from a bygone era, offering fans a glimpse into the early days of the sport.  The Rickwood classic is the one game put on by the White Sox double A team the Barons.

Rickwood Field's enduring legacy is a testament to the passion of the Birmingham community for baseball and their commitment to preserving the cultural heritage embedded in the historic ballpark. Whether hosting professional games, community events, or the annual Rickwood Classic, Rickwood Field continues to be a living museum of baseball history and an important symbol of the enduring connection between sports and culture in Birmingham, Alabama.

Special Note:

Major League Baseball is coming to the oldest professional ballpark in the United States.

"We are proud to bring Major League Baseball to historic Rickwood Field in 2024," MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said. "This opportunity to pay tribute to the Negro Leagues as the Giants and Cardinals play a regular season game at this iconic location is a great honor. The legacy of the Negro Leagues and its greatest living player, Willie Mays, is one of excellence and perseverance. We look forward to sharing the stories of the Negro Leagues throughout this event next year."

Scheduled around Juneteenth next year (June 20th, 2024), it will include a tribute to the Negro Leagues and Mays, baseball's oldest living Hall of Famer and a Birmingham native, who played for the Black Barons in 1948 before his legendary career with the Giants.The game will be broadcast nationally on FOX at 7 p.m. ET. The Giants and Cardinals, who will be the home team, will wear period uniforms that honor San Francisco's and St. Louis' Negro League histories.Two days before San Francisco and St. Louis play at the National Historic Site, Rickwood Field will also host a Minor League game between the Double-A Birmingham Barons and Montgomery Biscuits on June 18, 2024.

A slew of baseball legends have played at Rickwood Field throughout its long history: Mays, Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, Cool Papa Bell, Yogi Berra, Roy Campanella, Oscar Charleston, Roberto Clemente, Joe DiMaggio, Larry Doby, Rube Foster, Lou Gehrig, Josh Gibson, Monte Irvin, Reggie Jackson, Buck Leonard, Biz Mackey, Mickey Mantle, Connie Morgan, Musial, Satchel Paige, Frank Robinson, Jackie Robinson, Babe Ruth, Duke Snider, Toni Stone, Cristobal Torriente, Honus Wagner, Willie Wells and more.