On the Road: Past and Present in Birmingham

Thumbnail image for baronslogo.jpgGreetings from Birmingham’s Microtel Inn, a fine establishment that features friendly staff (I was offered cookies upon arriving), clean rooms, and a reliable internet connection.

While I wait for my endorsement check from Microtel to arrive, I figured I may as well update this blog with the goings-on of what has been an unfathomably long day. What I’d like to do is regale you with anecdotes regarding my inability to comprehend the dashboard of my Mercedes Benz rental car (which I got at an economy price!), but that’s probably not why you’ve typed this particular URL into your browser of choice.

No, you’re here for content at least tangentially related to baseball. So let’s get to it!rickwood_logo.gif

I’ll be attending the Rickwood Classic on Wednesday, an annual contest held in the oldest professional baseball stadium in America. So upon arriving in Birmingham early Tuesday afternoon, I drove over to the stadium for a self-guided tour (these are available to everyone during standard business hours, and something I highly recommend doing if you’re ever in Birmingham). 

An article on my self-guided adventure tour can be located HERE. Consider this to be supplemental visual content.

Spanish Mission-style Ballpark Exterior:

Rickwood Exterior.JPG

The “Breezeway”, featuring pictures of Rickwood heroes as well as the faded starting line-up from the 2009 Classic:

Rickwood_Breezeway starting lineups.JPG

Wear and Tear:

Rickwood_cracked ramp.JPG

The World’s Deepest Dugouts?


Four Light Towers on the Roof (these were state of the art in ’36):



Rickwood_no betting.JPG

More rules:

Rickwood_No Golf.JPG

Outfield Signage:

Rickwood_OF signs.JPG

Tellin’ It Like It Is:

Rickwood_oldest sign.JPG

The original concrete wall, set WAY back from the current outfield fence:

Rickwood_original fence.JPG

Rooftop Gazebo Press Box:

Rickwood_press box gazebo.JPG

Right Field Grandstand (a later addition to the stadium, modeled after Forbes Field in Pittsburgh):

Rickwood_rightfield grandstand.JPG

Scoreboard (from before the days of “ARI”, “FLA”, “TB”, and other such affronts to the natural order of things):


After touring Rickwood, I made the ill-fated decision to “guess” my way to the Microtel. Many wrong turns later, I arrived there in the midst of a violent downpour. This mini-monsoon subsided quickly, however, and therefore did not effect the day’s next chapter: Regions Park, current home of the Barons.

Thumbnail image for hoover.gifWhile 23-year-old Regions Park is no spring chicken, it sure felt like one compared to Rickwood. Although it boasts a Birmingham mailing address, the stadium is more accurately located in the nearby suburb of Hoover (a far different environment than Rickwood’s economically depressed surroundings).

The first impression I had of Regions was that it was spacious — although lacking an open concourse, there is a wide passageway that wraps around the stadium. This provides easy access to a wide range of vantage points.

And the press box is very impressive, a multi-level palace that has been the beneficiary of extensive renovations (as a result of Regions hosting the SEC college tournament). A full spread of food was provided as well, making me regret my desultory meal at a suburban “road house” that featured buckets of peanuts on every table.

Let’s go to the pictures, for the second and last time this evening.

View from the press box:

Regions_from box.JPG 

Inside the press box (palatial, by Double-A standards):

Regions_press box.JPG

Seriously, the press box is huge:

Regions_pic of press box.JPG

Left Field Bleachers:

Regions_from left corner.JPG

Plenty of Room to Move:

Regions_wide aisles.JPG

And, Finally, A Concessions Menu:


Can I get a round of applause for Cajun Roasted Peanuts?

At any rate, I was so preoccupied with various Rickwood-related conversations and copious picture-taking that I barely noticed the strong outing of Smokies’ pitcher Austin Bibens-Dirkx. Fortunately, my MiLB.com colleagues were there to pick up the slack.

Signing off from the Microtel,



  1. toka

    I have to wonder if its merely the latest salvo in a long-simmering regional rivalry that the “cajun” roasted peanuts are cheaper than the mono adjectival, presumably local variety.

  2. atjohns@gmail.com

    Sweet. I love Rickwood. It’s too late now, but try and get up on the roof to watch the game. Stairs are behind home plate all the way at the top of the stands.

    The added on right field bleachers were the “colored” seats for the white Barrons games.

    There is a marker on the original concrete outfield wall where someone hit it on the fly. Quite a shot.

    Everyone ought to go to Rickwood. Are there any other teams that play a game at an old park like this?


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