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Save the Date: Giants, Cardinals to Play at Oldest Professional Ballpark in June

The San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals are coming to the oldest professional baseball park in the country. Rickwood Field, in Birmingham, Alabama, is the former home of the Birmingham Black Barons of the Nergo Leagues. It was where Willie Mays once played before he made his mark in MLB. Rickwood Field will host the Giants and Cardinals for a special regular season game on June 20.

The Giants and Cardinals, who will be the home team, will wear period uniforms that honor San Francisco’s and St. Louis’ Nergo League histories.

Save the date: June 20. Birmingham, Alabama. MLB at Rickwood Field. ?

— MLB (@MLB) February 28, 2024

Rickwood Field to Host Giants and Cardinals

“We’re proud to bring Major League Baseball to historic Rickwood Field in 2024,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said. “The legacy of the Negro Leagues and its greatest living player, Willie Mays, is one of excellence and perseverance. We look forward to sharing the stories of the Negro Leagues throughout this event in June.”

MLB announced plans for the game last year. It’s scheduled around Juneteenth and it will include a tribute to the Negro League and Mays himself. He is baseball’s oldest living Hall of Famer who is from Birmingham, playing for the Black Barons in 1948 before his iconic career with the Giants.

“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,” Mays said. “It’s been 75 years since I played for the Birmingham Black Barons at Rickwood Field. We can’t forget what got us here and that was the Negro Leagues for so many of us.”

Mays made his pro debut with the team when he was 17. He could play ball alongside any group of players. The 1948 team that Mays played on was a member of the Negro American League. That has now been recognized as holding Major League status and faced the Negro National League’s Homestead Grays in the last Negro World Series.

MLB Reveals Logo, Renovations for Rickwood Field

The reveal of the logo for “MLB at Rickwood Field” featured white letters on a black background. The year 1910 is there (when the park was established), the date June 20, 2024, and “A tribute to the Negro Leagues.” Its inspiration came from the era and posters that promoted Negro Leagues games. The font resembled woodblock printing, the popular font at the time, while the colors mirrored the scoreboard in left field.

The park has undergone renovations to make the field fit in today’s age of baseball. Renovations will focus on the dugouts, home plate, outfield wall and lightning. The dugouts will be larger with home plate moving back 10 feet. Temporary lights, a new backstop netting system and foul poles will be added to the century-old ballpark.

Rickwood has played host to many Hall of Fame players, including Jackie Robinson, Satchel Paige and Hank Aaron. The impact of the game of baseball has left a lasting impression on past and present athletes.

Main Photo: © Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports


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