Birmingham Black Barons
|Birmingham Black Barons|
|League||Negro Southern League and Negro National League|
|Home field||Rickwood Field|
The Birmingham Black Barons played professional baseball for Birmingham in the Negro Leagues from 1920 to 1960 when the Major Leagues successfully integrated. They alternated home stands with the Birmingham Barons in West End's Rickwood Field, usually drawing larger crowds and equal press.
Drawing largely from a successful ACIPCO Industrial League team, the Black Barons were organized in 1920 for the inaugural season of Rube Foster's Negro Southern League. They played in that league for three years before making the leap to the larger Negro National League. They were unable to keep their position due to irregularities with the team finances and returned to the Southern League for three more years.
For the next decade or so they alternated leagues before being bought by Memphis funeral home director Tom Hayes. They returned to the National League for good in 1940. Early in the decade the team was sold again to Abraham Saperstein who also owned the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team. In 1943 they won their first of three pennants. Starting in 1945, they became full members of the Negro National League and enjoyed great success, winning their third pennant in 1948 and losing three world series to the Homestead Grays, with whom they developed a notable rivalry. As the Major Leagues started signing talented African Americans, the Black Barons helped form a new Negro American League which played four seasons from 1956 to 1960 before folding. The Black Barons played their last game in 1960.
On February 26, 2006 ESPN Classic broadcast a throwback game from Rickwood Field featuring amateur players in the uniforms of the Birmingham Black Barons and Bristol Barnstormers. The style of play, the equipment, and the umpires all reflected the 1940s game. Willie Mays attended along with former Negro League player and country music singer Charley Pride. The Black Barons rallied to break an eighth inning tie and win the game 9-8.
A group of Negro Leagues alumni in the Birmingham area are working on a project to create a museum and outreach center in Birmingham's Civil Rights District. In December 2007 Mayor Larry Langford said that he wanted to discuss creating a museum to honor the Negro Leagues at Rickwood Field.
- This is a partial listing of notable players by when they debuted for the Black Barons. See Birmingham Black Barons rosters for more complete listings:
- Satchel Paige (pitcher 1927–1929)
- Harry Salmon
- Sam Streeter
- Mule Suttles (left fielder, first baseman 1923–1925)
- Pepper Bassett, catcher
- Lyman Bostock, Sr, first baseman
- Piper Davis, player 1942-, manager 1948-
- Willie Greason, pitcher 1948-51
- Sam Hairston, catcher, infielder 1944
- Jehosia Heard
- John Markham, pitcher
- Gread McKinnis, pitcher
- Willie Mays, outfielder 1948
- Bill Powell
- Ted Radcliffe
- Tommy Sampson
- Alfred Saylor, pitcher
- Goose Tatum
- Winfield Welch, manager 1943-44
- Sam Williams, pitcher
- Artie Wilson, short stop
- Jim Zapp, right field
- Vic Harris, manager
- Henry Kimbro, left field
- Jessie Mitchell, center field
- John Mitchell, left field
- Charley Pride, pitcher, outfield
- Ed Steele
- Rosel Williams, shortstop 1954
- Fullerton, Christopher D. (1999) Every Other Sunday: The Story of the Birmingham Black Barons. Birmingham: R. Boozer Press. ISBN 0963612824.
- Dixon, Phil & Patrick J. Hannigan. (1992) The Negro Baseball Leagues: A Photographic History. Ameron House. ISBN 08848804252
- Birmingham Black Barons at the Birmingham-Pittsburgh Traveler page - accessed April 3, 2006
- "Still in the Game" (April 2006) Southern Living.
- Jordan, Phillip. (February 23, 2006) "Nine Innings in Rickwood" Birmingham Weekly
- Powell, Larry (2009) Black Barons of Birmingham: The South’s Greatest Negro League Team and Its Players. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland ISBN 0786438061
- Kilma, John (2009) Willie's Boys: The 1948 Birmingham Black Barons, The Last Negro League World Series, and the Making of a Baseball Legend. Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley ISBN 0470400137
 External links
- ESPN Classic Vintage Live Negro League Baseball press kit with team rosters.
- Birmingham Pro Sports website
|Birmingham Black Barons * Managers * Records * Rickwood Classic * Teams|
|Venues: Slag Pile Field, Rickwood Field, Regions Park|
|Managers: Rick Woodward, Carleton Molesworth, Phil Cavaretta, Terry Francona|
|Barons: Jeff Abbott, Wilson Alvarez, Sal Bando, Jason Bere, Vida Blue, Mark Buehrle, Mike Cameron, Joe Crede, Rob Dibble, Ray Durham, Scott Eyre, Rollie Fingers, John Garland, Burleigh Grimes, Roberto Hernandez, Catfish Hunter, Bo Jackson, Reggie Jackson, Howard Johnson, Michael Jordan, Tony LaRussa, Carlos Lee, Rube Marquard, Jack McDowell, Miguel Olivo, Magglio Ordonez, Aaron Rowand, Pie Traynor, Bob Wickman, Bobby Thigpen, Frank Thomas, Robin Ventura|
|Black Barons: Lorenzo "Piper" Davis, Bill Foster, Willie Mays, Satchel Paige, Willie Wells|