When I found out I was moving to within easy driving distance of Birmingham back in January 2020, I circled the Rickwood Classic on my digital calendar, especially after James Fegan made me jealous with his write-up of his experience after the 2019 game.
Then the entire 2020 season was wiped out, and as Minor League Baseball slowly returned to order with a compressed structure and schedule, the Rickwood Classic wasn’t part of it.
Until next year.
The Birmingham Barons will be playing the Montgomery Biscuits at Rickwood Field on June 18, 2024. It’ll effectively serve as the undercard for the main event two days later, when the 114-year-old ballpark will host a game between the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals. Rickwood is being modified in order to host an MLB game, and the Giants are coming to town because that’s where Willie Mays broke into baseball with the Birmingham Black Barons in 1948.
This is what I wished for when I wrote up the storybook experience of the inaugural Field of Dreams Game, and saw diminishing returns for the Iowa well:
You read the coverage of the local excitement in Iowa, you watch the unfamiliar surroundings turning professional athletes into goober tourists, and you get the idea that baseball could generate similar success with a domestic barnstorming tour elsewhere. They could support rehabilitation efforts of Negro Leagues parks like Rickwood Field or Hinchcliffe Stadium, or they could hire location scouts to figure out where else they could establish temporary fields with incredible backdrops. With Major League Baseball pulling out of so many areas via contraction of the minor leagues, it could be another way to repair those inroads.
And when you read Mays’ reaction, it’s already paying off:
“I can’t believe it. I never thought I’d see in my lifetime a Major League Baseball game being played on the very field where I played baseball as a teenager. It has been 75 years since I played for the Birmingham Black Barons at Rickwood Field, and to learn that my Giants and the Cardinals will play a game there and honor the legacy of the Negro Leagues and all those who came before them is really emotional for me. We can’t forget what got us here and that was the Negro Leagues for so many of us,” said Willie Mays.
The Barons will be my priority, but if the Field of Dreams Game is any indication, it’ll probably be worth my time trying to attend both.
- Kean Wong made his Charlotte debut and went 1-for-4 with a walk and a strikeout.,
- Lenyn Sosa returned to the lineup in his first action since June 1 and went 2-for-5.
- Carlos Pérez was 2-for-4 with a homer and a walk.
- Alsander Womack went 0-for-4 with a walk.
- Bryan Ramos homered as part of his 2-for-5 night, striking out once.
- Yoelqui Céspedes went 0-for-4.
- Luis Mieses, 1-for-4 with a K.
- Adam Hackenberg doubled and struck out thrice.
- Cristian Mena: 5 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, 1 WP, 43 of 76 pitches for strikes.
- Terrell Tatum went 1-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout.
- DJ Gladney was 0-for-3 with a walk, HBP and a strikeout.
- Wilfred Veras, 1-for-4 with a walk.
- Wes Kath was 1-for-4 with a walk, two strikeouts and a stolen base.
- Uncharacteristic line for Jonathan Cannon: 5.2 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 10 K, 1 HR
- Colson Montgomery started at shortstop and went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.
- Ryan Burrowes was 1-for-4 with a double and a stolen base.
- Ronny Hernandez singled, walked thrice and struck out once.
- Erick Hernandez went 0-for-3 with a walk, sac fly and two strikeouts.
DSL Padres Gold 3, DSL White Sox 2 (8 innings)
- DÁngelo Tejeda went 0-for-3 with a sac fly and a strikeout.
- Abraham Nunez was 0-for-3.
- Stiven Flores went 0-for-1.
- Rafael Alvarez singled and struck out twice.
- Juan Uribe Jr. went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.