Rickwood Field
Birmingham, Alabama
Rickwood Field is the oldest baseball park in America. Rickwood Field was the passionate pursuit of a young Birmingham, AL industrialist, Rick Woodward. While still in his 20s, Woodward bought controlling interest in the city's professional baseball team, the Coal Barons. He then sought help from Connie Mack in designing "the finest minor league ballpark ever" in this booming iron-and-steel town, the fastest growing city in the nation at that time. The stadium is modeled primarily after Forbes Field in Pittsburgh, and Connie Mack's own Shibe Park in Philadelphia. The 1910s brought standing-room-only crowds and future hall of famers like Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson, Honus Wagner, and Birmingham's hometeam sensation Burleigh Grimes, the last legal spitball pitcher in the Big Leagues. In an enterprising arrangement with Woodward, the newly formed Birmingham Black Barons drew overflow crowds to Rickwood field. Alternating weekends with the Barons, the Black Barons provided a thrilling pastime for the thousands who came to watch Negro League immortals. The Birmingham Barons moved to their new field in Hoover in 1988 vacating Rickwood. Today it is used by high school teams and city league teams. The current field lines are RF-332', RC-392' to LC-399', LF-321'. The original concrete wall was LF-405', LC-470'. You can see the wall in the gap in Row 3 #2. Below are some of the pictures that I took of the field. Row 2 shows the advertising signs from the early years and the hand operated scoreboard. Row 3 #3 shows the original gazebo pressbox high above the roof and #4 shows the steps outside the field to get up to it. Note the refreshment stands windows are low because the man who ran them was small in size. The light towers in Row 1 & 2 were installed in 1936 making Rickwood one of the first minor league parks to be able to have night games.