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Rickwood Field: A Century in America's Oldest Ballpark

Allen Barra

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Description

The extraordinary social history of Rickwood Field becomes the story of baseball itself, gloriously evoked for the centennial of America’s oldest ballpark.
While America has changed dramatically over the last hundred years, Rickwood Field, the pride of Birmingham, Alabama, has remained fixed in time. Best-selling baseball writer Allen Barra journeyed to his native Alabama to capture the glories of a century of baseball lore. In chronicling the history of Rickwood Field, where the manually operated scoreboard still uses numbers painted on metal sheets, Barra also tells of segregated baseball, the vaunted Negro Leagues, and captures the ghosts of the players themselves, including Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Satchel Paige, and Willie Mays. Evoking such classics as Shoeless Joe and The Boys of Summer, Barra recalls not only a simpler, bygone era but also a city rife with racial tension and abject poverty, where a tattered ballpark was, and still is, a rare beacon of hope. Indeed, Barra skillfully convinces us that the histories of Rickwood Field, baseball, and the American south are inextricably bound together.

Publishers Weekly Review

Jun 14, 2010 – 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.
Rickwood Field: A Century in America's Oldest Ballpark
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  • $15.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Baseball
  • Published: Aug 30, 2010
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
  • Seller: W. W. Norton
  • Print Length: 304 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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