BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — The Birmingham Black Barons paved the way for baseball in the city of Birmingham.
The team played professional baseball in the Negro Leagues from 1920 to 1960, winning league titles in 1943, 1944 and 1948.
Along the way, numerous baseball greats played for the team, including Satchel Paige and Willie Mays.
Now, the Black Barons are being honored in a number of ways in Birmingham.
A gas lamp, a gift from Alagasco, stands as a permanent reminder of the history of the team and all of the men who played for the Black Barons. The lamp sits outside of Regions Field.
“They were known as the jewel of black baseball for the men that you see behind me,” Dudley Reynolds of Algasco said on Friday. “So many wonderful men and families supported them.”
But the gas lamp isn’t the only permanent honor the Black Barons have been promised.
A Negro League baseball museum was promised in 2009. At the time, the museum was planned to be built adjacent to Rickwood Field.
Where does it stand now, though, nearly three years later?
“We’ve been so focused on getting the stadium open on time that we had to kind of slow up,” Birmingham Mayor William Bell said. “Now we’re getting ready to speed up.”
Former Black Barons players say they really never doubted the museum would be built. Most of all, they’re just looking forward to it.
“I’m waiting on it, and hey, it’s coming,” former Black Baron Ernest “Oink” Harris said. “It’s going to feel so good when I step foot in there.
The land for the project is already purchased.
“There are so many good athletes that are going to be on display in there that I can’t wait to see it open,” Earnest “Big Dog” Fann said. “I can’t wait.”
The plot of land where the museum will be built sits behind Regions Field and is currently park of the construction zone for the ball park.
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