Major League Baseball comes to the oldest professional football stadium in the United States.
Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Ala. – The former home of the Birmingham Black Barons in the Negro League, where Willie Mays once played – Will host the Cardinals and Giants in a special regular-season game on June 20, 2024.
“We are proud to bring Major League Baseball to historic Rickwood Field in 2024,” said MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred. “This opportunity to pay tribute to the Negro leagues as the Giants and Cardinals play a regular season game at this iconic location is a great honor. The legacy of the Negro leagues and greatest living player, Willie Mays, is one of distinction and tenacity. We look forward to sharing the stories of the Negro leagues during this event next year.” “
MLB announced its plans for the game on Tuesday. Scheduled for Juneteenth next year, that includes a tribute to the Negro Leagues and Mays, baseball’s oldest Hall of Famer and Birmingham native, who played for the Black Barons in 1948 prior to his legendary career with the Giants.
“I can’t believe it,” said Mays, “I never thought I would ever see a Major League Baseball game played on the same field where I played baseball as a teenager.” “It’s been 75 years since I played for the Birmingham Black Barons at Rickwood Field, and to know that my Giants and Cardinals will play a game there and honor the legacy of the Negro Leagues and everyone who came before them is really emotional to me. We can’t forget what got us here which is the Negro Leagues for so many from U.S “.
The game will be broadcast nationally on FOX at 7 p.m. ET.
“It’s going to be a special moment,” said Lamonte Wade Jr., the Giants’ first baseman. “Anytime you can highlight the Negro League players and all they’ve done for our game — to build a game all around and honor Willie as well, that would be really cool. I’m definitely looking forward to playing in that game.”
Giants manager Gabe Kapler added, “A really cool opportunity for our organization. I’m really excited about it.”
The Giants and Cardinals, who will be the home team, will wear uniforms that honor the history of San Francisco and St. Louis in the Negro league.
“Birmingham, Alabama, has a rich history in baseball and has hosted Cardinal legends like Stan Musial, Daisy Dean, Joe Medwick and Rogers Hornsby over the years,” said Cardinals president Bill DeWitt Jr. “We look forward to this historic parade of baseball in the South that celebrates the great heritage of the Negro Leagues, Minor League Baseball and, of course, the famous Willie Mays.”
MLB, Friends of Rickwood and the City of Birmingham will team up to renovate the field for 2024.
“I am very excited that Birmingham will be able to share the magic and legacy of Rekwood Stadium with millions of Major League Baseball fans,” said Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin. “America’s oldest professional football stadium still resonates with the voices of the legends who graced the field. I want to thank Major League Baseball for sharing this vision to commemorate Juneteenth and celebrate the Negro leagues in the Magic City.”
Two days before San Francisco and St. Louis play at the National Historic Site, Rickwood Field will also host a minor league game between the Double-A Birmingham Barons and Montgomery Biscuits on June 18, 2024.
The Barons played at Rickwood Field from 1910-1961, 1964-65, and 1981-1987. Today, they still play one game at Reckwood Stadium each year—the Reckwood Classic, which began in 1996—to pay tribute to their history on the field.
“Reckwood Field has played an important role in the Birmingham community for over a hundred years, and we are delighted to be a special part of that event in 2024,” said Jonathan Nelson, Barrons President and Managing Director.
The Black Barons played their Negro League games at Rickwood Field from 1924 through 1960. The stadium hosted the last Negro League World Series game in October 1948, where the teenage Homestead Grays defeated Mays and the Black Barons.
A slew of baseball legends have played at Reckwood Stadium throughout its long history: Mays, Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, Cool Papa Bill, Yogi Berra, Roy Campanella, Oscar Charleston, Roberto Clemente, Joe Dimaggio, Larry Doby, Robbie Foster, Lou Gehrig, Josh Gibson, Mount Irvin, Reggie Jackson, Buck Leonard, Biz Mackie, Mickey Mantle, Connie Morgan, Musial, Satchel Paige, Frank Robinson, Jackie Robinson, Babe Ruth, Duke Snyder, Tony Stone, Cristobal Torrente, Honus Wagner, Willie Wells and more .
“Preserving the heritage of the Negro leagues is vital to increasing the diversity and popularity of baseball,” said Tony Clark, executive director of the MLB Players Association. “Willie Mays, like many other Negro players, broke barriers and paved the way for those who dreamed of playing baseball at the highest level. This event helps connect the past, present, and future and helps advance the cause of attracting a new generation of players to our game.”
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