Major League Baseball regular season game at Rickwood Field to honor the Negro Leagues

Rickwood Field
Mike Hill, Senior Vice President, On-Field Operations, Major League Baseball,Harold Reynolds – MLB Network Analyst; Emcee, Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin, Gerald Watkins – Friends of Rickwood (Pat Byington/Bham Now)

The June 20,  2024 regular season game at Historic Rickwood Field between the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals finally has a name.

The official title: MLB at Rickwood Field — A Tribute to the Negro Leagues

The announcement

Willie Mays painting at the Birmingham Negro Southern League Museum (Pat Byington/Bham Now)

On Thursday afternoon, MLB Network Analyst Harold Reynolds emceed the MLB announcement which was attended by reporters, fans and local dignitaries.

Harold Reynolds – MLB Network Analyst; Emcee (Pat Byington/Bham Now)

Statement by Willie Mays

To mark the occasion, Reynolds read a message from Birmingham native, former Birmingham Black Baron and the greatest living baseball player Willie Mays.

“I was very happy to hear the Giants and Cardinals will play a major league baseball game at Rickwood Field next season. I have wonderful memories of playing there with the black Birmingham Black Barons when I was only a kid, if you can believe it was 75 years ago. I hope that the game will be a chance to remember so many really good ballplayers from the Negro Leagues who played it Rickwood Field but never got a chance to play in the big leagues.”

Rickwood is hallowed ground

Rickwood Field
Harold Reynolds – MLB Network Analyst; Emcee, Mike Hill, Senior Vice President, On-Field Operations, Major League Baseball,, Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin, (Pat Byington/Bham Now)

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin welcomed Major League Baseball to The Magic City and  gave a passionate speech about the importance of this game, not only for Birmingham, but the nation and history.

“It is worth repeating that Rickwood Field is hallowed ground. Where sports became more than entertainment and was a source of empowerment.That’s what this game represents next year. Progress. Power. And my favorite—Pride—and a city that exemplified those terms. 

So I want to say to everybody that is present this afternoon that we can’t wait to welcome the Cardinals, the Giants as well as the entire world to Birmingham. On the same field where the victories came in two forms. Both winning games and the chipping away at the barriers that blocked black athletes from the recognition they deserve to make history again.

Thank you

And for the black athletes who paved the way for us to be here today, I have two words. And no, it’s not ‘play ball’ — but simply, instead —Thank you.”

After the unveiling, fans got to meet baseball greats, Ryan Howard, representing the Cardinals and Giants legend Randy Winn.

Improvements Coming

Rickwood Field
Rickwood Field (Pat Byington/Bham Now)

What’s next? In the coming year, Rickwood Field is slated for some improvements. This summer, the city passed a measure to spend $500,000 to restore the nation’s oldest professional ballpark. 

Remarkably, next year’s matchup will be Rickwood’s first ever regular season MLB game in its 124 year history.

Stay tuned for information about ticket sales.

Pat Byington
Pat Byington

Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.

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