Rickwood Field: A Century in America's Oldest Ballpark

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Rickwood Field’s Hall of Fame Lineup:

Babe Ruth, John McGraw, Rogers Hornsby, Lou Gehrig, Lefty Grove, Dizzy Dean, Joe DiMaggio, Casey Stengel, Yogi Berra, Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Ted Williams, Stan Musial, Hank Aaron, Carl Yastremski, Ernie Banks, Harmon Killebrew, “Cool Papa” Bell, Josh Gibson, Sandy Koufax, Roberto Clemente, Pete Rose, Mike Schmidt, Willie Mays, Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson, Honus Wagner, and Grover Cleveland Alexander.

Best-selling sports historian Allan Barra takes us on an unforgettable journey to Birmingham, Alabama, where America’s oldest ballpark, would look—were it not for the new paint job—almost identical to when the gates first opened almost a century ago. Evoking such classics as Shoeless Joe and The Boys of Summer, Rickwood Field recalls a simpler, bygone era when a weathered ballpark was, and still is, a rare beacon of hope.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Take a poll of baseball fans about the most famous ancient ballparks in the U.S., and you'll get current landmarks like Fenway Park and Wrigley Field, or those from the past like the Polo Grounds or Ebbets Field. Few would ever think to mention Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Ala., although as Barra explains in this highly informative book, the fabled Dixie ballpark deserves to be mentioned in the same breath. Opened in August 1910, Rickwood Field hosted some of the greatest players in history over the next several decades, like Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays, Satchel Paige, Reggie Jackson, and dozens of others. But the park became a part of something bigger in Alabama, as not only was it the home of teams from both the minor leagues and Negro League but also "one of the few places where blacks and whites, at least a few of them, relaxed and enjoyed something together." To the city of Birmingham, baseball was so important that when an exhibition involving both white and black players violated city laws, everyone chose to "look the other way." Barra also explores several other issues, including the segregationist history of the city and the economic factors that molded the area over the years. With dozens of photographs from years past, along with numerous interviews from those who created the park's history (the last part of the book is devoted to contemporary accounts from those who love Rickwood), Barra provides a special glimpse into one of America's undeservedly unknown sports treasures. (Aug.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393069334
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/26/2010
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 1,007,333
  • Product dimensions: 9.54 (w) x 6.64 (h) x 1.22 (d)

Meet the Author

Allen Barra is a sports columnist for the Wall Street Journal and the best-selling author of The Last Coach, Yogi Berra: Eternal Yankee and Rickwood Field. His writing appears in the Washington Post, Salon, Playboy, and The Daily Beast. He lives in New Jersey.

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Table of Contents

Preface 1

Chapter 1 Up from the Slag Pile (1815-1909) 7

Chapter 2 Birmingham Men Do it Right (1910-1917) 27

Chapter 3 A Team of Their Own (1918-1925) 47

Chapter 4 The Golden Age (1926-1929) 73

Chapter 5 The Greatest Game Ever Played (1931) 93

Chapter 6 "There was Just Something about the Baseball in That Park" (1932-1947) 113

Chapter 7 "Well, I'm Going to the Ballgame" (1948-1949) 137

Chapter 8 "The Barons were a Memory" (1950-1960) 163

Chapter 9 Everything Dies But... (1961-2009) 185

Extra Innings

Appendix 1 There Used to be a Ballpark 207

Appendix 2 The Baron of Rickwood 221

Appendix 3 Voices of Rickwood 239

Appendix 4 This is a Ballpark 317

Acknowledgments 335

Notes 341

Bibliography 347

Illustration Credits 351

Index 355

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