Negro League Players Reminisce at Rickwood Classic

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – Baseball: it’s America’s favorite pastime, and what better place to play than in America’s oldest ballpark?

The 18th Annual Rickwood Classic was held on May 29, 2013 at Birmingham’s historic Rickwood Field.

Although the year is 2013, those at Rickwood may have had to do a double take.

Fans wore their best 1940’s attire.

The Birmingham Barons took on the Tennessee Smokies in retro uniforms, but the best flashbacks came through the memories of the negro league players in attendance.

“My batting average was .320,” Oliver Sonfergeson recalled.

He played for the Birmingham Black Barons in 1938. He never misses the Rickwood Classic.

“I’m enjoying it here, all of these people here, coming from all parts of the country like it was when I was playing baseball, I enjoyed that,” he said.

As Tommy Hays, who played for the Memphis Red Sox, sat in the stands he couldn’t help but think back to his days behind home plate. He was a catcher.

“It feels good to me, I played a whole lot of games in this park. It makes me feel like I want to play again. I just enjoyed going [to games], every time staying weeks at a time, playing baseball every night and day, ride on the bus all night, it was just really fun to me,” he said.

Fun for many, and life changing for all. They broke the mold, and without them, Rickwood Field might have simply been, just another ballpark.

 

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