20 Jun

rickwood connections

Historic Rickwood Field in Birmingham is the center of the baseball universe today, hosting the San Francisco-St. Louis MLB game that pays tribute to the Negro League clubs and players, many of them Mississippians, that called the ballpark home from 1924 into the 1950s. An array of black stars, Hall of Famers among them, passed through Rickwood during those years, and quite a few of the game’s great white players also appeared in exhibitions there. Hall of Famer and former Alcorn State player and coach Bill Foster pitched for the Birmingham Black Barons in 1925, throwing a one-hit shutout in his lone appearance, per baseball-reference.com. The legendary Satchel Paige broke into pro ball with the 1927 Black Barons, and one of his teammates was Jackson native Columbus Lance. The real heyday of the Black Barons was the mid-1940s, when the team won three league championships in a six-year span. The primary catcher on the 1943 title winner was Meridian native Paul Hardy, who played 11 years in the Negro Leagues. The ’43 Black Barons also featured the likes of Piper Davis, Clyde “Big Splo” Spearman, Felix McLaurin and Johnny Markham. The Birmingham club also won Negro American League pennants in 1944 and ’48, with the late, great Willie Mays, at 17, starring for the latter team. Jackson native Curtis Hollingsworth was a pitcher on the 1946 and ’47 Birmingham teams. P.S. Former Southern Miss standout Nick Sandlin has gone on the 15-day injured list for Cleveland with back inflammation. He has five wins and a 3.49 ERA in 33 relief appearances for the first-place Guardians. … Mississippi State alum Rowdey Jordan hit a seventh-inning grand slam for Double-A Binghamton on Wednesday, accounting for all the team’s runs in a 4-1 win vs. Akron. Jordan, a fourth-year pro, is batting .264 with six homers and 28 RBIs for the New York Mets’ affiliate. … Congrats to Northwest Mississippi Community College outfielder Cade Greer, who won an ABCA/Rawlings Gold Glove. Greer, from Olive Branch, handled 108 chances without an error as a sophomore for the Rangers.

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