As part of our new collection, Baseball Cathedrals - today we introduce you to the home of the Birmingham Black Barons - Rickwood Field.
BIRTH OF A BASEBALL CATHEDRAL
Rickwood Field is the oldest professional baseball park in the United States. The stadium was modeled after Philadelphia's Shibe Park (Connie Mack Stadium) and Pittsburgh's Forbes Field. The stadium was built for $75,000 and debuted in 1910.
The Birmingham Black Barons were part of the Negro Southern League playing from 1920-24, 1926, 1931-1936 and 1938-1939. The Black Barons were part of the Negro National League from 1925-1926, 1927-1930, 1937, 1940-1948.
The 1927 Black Barons won the second half title in the 1927 Negro National League split season, before losing the League Championship Series in a four game sweep by the Chicago American Giants. The high points of Birmingham's nineteen-year black baseball history were the three Negro American League pennants in 1943, 1944, and 1948. Unfortunately, each time they lost the Negro World Series to the Homestead Grays.
The Black Barons featured Satchel Paige and a teenage Willie Mays who played for the team in 1948-49.
POST NEGRO LEAGUES
In 1940 the stadium was sold to the Cincinnati Reds, and then again to G. J. Jebeles in 1944. In 1949 the stadium was sold to a partnership of Al DeMent, Al Belcher, and Rufus Lackey before being sold in 1966 to the City of Birmingham.
In 1966 the lease was transferred Kansas City Athletic's owner Charlie Finley who brought their AA farm team to Birmingham. In 1981 Art Clarkson brought the Detroit Tigers AA club to the city. In 1986, the Barons became the Chicago White Sox AA club, an affiliation that continues today. The city would play host to the baseball career of Basketball legend Michael Jordan.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
In 2019, British Artist Andy Brown became the first to paint all 30 MLB ballparks live during a single season. To date he has painted over 90 ballparks, in 9 countries, all within 9 innings. This collection celebrates the Baseball Cathedrals of the Negro Leagues. Within his work he aims to capture the atmosphere and experience of the ballpark along with their importance to our collective identity, history and culture. His work has received recognition from the BBC, ESPN, MLB Network, Fox Sports, Buckingham Palace and others. It is also held in the collections of museums, teams, fans and art lovers worldwide - there is also a question about his work in the board game Trivial Pursuit.
Graphic Design by Jillian Brown