"The past is not dead. In fact, its not even past."
Faulkner was talking about the specter of the past in the South, specifically the Civil War, but he may as well have been talking about the game of baseball. No other sport reveres its own past as much as baseball does. Maybe that is why you rarely see high maintenance super-stars in baseball because everything that every player accomplishes is held up against what other men have done for over a century. When you are held up to those kinds of standards, it is harder to be the next big thing because there have been a century of next big things. One of those big things from the past century sits right here in Birmingham, and most of the city's citizens pay very little attention to this grand old venue.
In 1910 Rickwood Field opened in the western part of the city and yesterday we had the chance to go to the annual "Rickwood Classic" and celebrate the one hundredth anniversary of the oldest baseball park still standing in America! It was a perfect day for a baseball game and it was one of those dreamy summer days where the clouds constantly hang at the edges of the horizon adding beauty to the sultry afternoon, while never threatening to ruin your good time. Dreamy is the best way to describe the whole experience of the Rickwood Classic. For this particular game the Barons were in replica uniforms from 1910. Sitting there in the century old grandstand watching those players take the field at the top of the first in those uniforms, it is easy to imagine yourself transported back to another time. Adding to this feeling was the live jazz band performing between innings and the ragtime music playing over the old p/a system. We had such a great time and if you haven't gone to one of the classics, make a point to do so next year. If you only think of our city as a football crazed city, take this into consideration: we have had the Birmingham Barons since 1896! (with the exception of 6 years spread out in the 50's and 60's) Birmingham was historically a baseball town due to the oddity of being a Southern city with a large number of Northern transplants.
Eat your heart out Fenway and Wrigley!
The old hand-operated score board...
...and the best part, they let you on the field after the game!!!