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Rickwood Field: A Century in America's Oldest Ballpark

Rickwood Field – the country's oldest ballpark – is rich in baseball lore and legend.

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Rickwood Field:
A Century in America's Oldest Ballpark
By Allen Barra
W.W. Norton & Co.
367 pp.

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In recent years, a raft of books about major league baseball stadiums have been published. And why not, since for many fans their fondest sporting memories have to do with the sights and sounds of being at the ballpark.

The romance for these venues, however, isn’t limited to the big leagues. Allen Barra makes that point abundantly clear in his book Rickwood Field: A Century in America's Oldest Ballpark. Rickwood Field opened in 1910 in Birmingham, Ala., and thus predates even the oldest extant big league stadiums, Boston’s Fenway Park and Chicago’s Wrigley Field, which opened in 1912 and 1914 respectively.

Beyond the physical structure, however, is a history that traces the evolution of the sport and the social changes wrought in the game’s most storied Southern hotbed. Many of the greatest names in baseball passed through Rickwood’s gates over the years, either as minor leaguers on the way up or as major leaguers on teams that stopped over in Birmingham on their way north from spring training.

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