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Birmingham Barons logo Birmingham Barons
Southern League
Rickwood Field

Team and League History

???, 1885
The first year of the Birmingham Coal Barons. Games were played at the Slag Pile (West End Park).

Tennessee Coal and Iron (TCI), which owned the land, would only grant one 60-day lease at a time.

The Barons would also play in East Lake.

???, 1901
The Southern Association was formed, with franchises in Birmingham, Selma, New Orleans, Shreveport, Little Rock, Memphis, Nashville, and Chattanooga.

???, ???
  Manager Carlton Molesworth
The Barons hire Carlton Molesworth to be their manager.

???, 1910
  Owner A. H. "Rick" Woodard
The Barons move to Rickwood Field. Rickwood is the first concrete and steel ballpark in the minor leagues.

Owner A. H. "Rick" Woodward consulted Philadelphia's legendary manager Connie Mack on building the 12.7 acre park. Woodward used Philadelphia's Shibe Park and Pittsburgh's Forbes Field as models.

The name of the park originated from Woodward's first name and the first part of his last name.

April 16, 1921
A tornado rips through Rickwood Field, destroying the wooden outfield fence and the bleachers, causing $30,000 in damages.

???, 1944
  Owner G. J. "Gus" Jebeles
The Barons are now owned by G. J. "Gus" Jebeles.

November 4, 1947
      Boston Red Sox logo
Barons general manager Eddie Glennon announces that the Barons will operate the new Class-C Cotton State League Natchez club beginning next year. The Barons purchased a majority of the Natchez stock. Last season, Natchez was in the Class-D Evangeline League and had a working agreement with the Barons.

December 4, 1947
Fred Walters is hired as the Barons player-manager for the 1948 season.

Walters is fairly new to the managing end of a ball club. Walters began his managing career in 1946 when he  became the manager of the Louisville Colonels after Harry Leibold was suspended for "umpire difficulties" during the season. Last year, he was the player-manager of the New Orleans Pelicans.

The Barons also announce they have agreed to become a farm club of the Boston Red Sox.

???, ???
  Manager Fred Walters
Fred Walters is named the Barons manager for 1948.

April 1949
  1949 layout of Rickwood Field

???, ???
  Manager Mike Higgins
Mike Higgins is announced as the new Barons manager.

???, ???
      Photograph xxx Photograph xxx Photograph
  Co-owner Al DeMent Co-owner Rufus Lackey Co-owner Albert Belcher
New owners for the Barons are Al DeMent, Rufus Lackey, and Albert Belcher.

November 26, 1951
While at the Southern Association's winter meetings in Tampa, owner Albert Belcher announces that the Barons will not operate in 1962.

League directors have asked Belcher to play against integrated teams in Rickwood Field and he has refused. The city of Birmingham has an ordinance that prohibits the mixing of white and black baseball players in competition and Belcher said has been told by some of the other teams in the league that they would be playing black players next season.

The league then asked Belcher to move the team but he has refused. "The league directors wanted me to move the franchise to another city, but I refused. Birmingham is my home town and I plan to remain here," Belcher said.

In addition, the Barons' working agreement with the Detroit Tigers has been cancelled. Belcher has asked the league to allow him to retain the franchise on an inactive basis and the league directors have agreed.

???, 1953
      New York Yankees logo
The Barons have an agreement with the New York Yankees.

???, 1957
      Detroit Tigers logo
Agreement with Detroit Tigers reached.

???, 1959
  Manager Lamar
"Skeeter" Newsome

???, 1964
      Kansas City Athletics
The Barons establish an agreement with the Kansas City Athletics.

  Owner Albert Belcher

???, 1964
  Manager Haywood Sullivan
The Barons name Haywood Sullivan as manager. This will be his first time in the manager position.

A product of the University of Florida, Sullivan began his major league career with the Boston Red Sox in 1955. After playing for the Red Sox and numerous minor league affiliates of their system, Sullivan was acquired by the Kansas City Athletics in 1961. He stayed with the Athletics organization until last season.

  Rickwood Field

???, 1964
      South Atlantic League logo
The Southern League is formed, comprised of members of the Southern Association and the South Atlantic League.

???, ???
  Manager John McNamara
John McNamara is named the new Barons manager.

A native of Sacramento, California, McNamara was originally signed by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1951. In 1960 he became player-manager at Lewiston, Idaho. They won a pennant in 1961. Last season in Dallas was McNamara's first year as a non-playing manager.

April ??, 1966
The city of Birmingham purchases Rickwood Field from Belcher.

???, ???
Southern League
It took two years, but baseball returned to the city in the form of the Birmingham Athletics, a member of the Southern League. The A's played in Birmingham for nine years before the team was moved to Chattanooga.

This time, it took three years before baseball returned. In 1978 the upstart Freedom Baseball League's Alabama Barons began play at Rickwood Field. The league would fold after five games, and the undefeated Barons were deemed champions.

Art Clarkson brought the Southern League back to town in 1981 when he purchased the Montgomery Rebels and moved them here to become the Birmingham Barons.

Both the Birmingham Barons and the Southern League are still active to this day.
Contact Gene Crowley

Last update: May 26, 2019