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Rep. Sewell recognizes MLB ahead of their tribute to the Negro Leagues

Sewell recognized Major League Baseball ahead of their “Tribute to the Negro Leagues.”

Rep. Terri Sewell speaking on the floor of the U.S. House.
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U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, AL-07, spoke on the House Floor last Friday to recognize Major League Baseball ahead of their “Tribute to the Negro Leagues” at Rickwood Field in Birmingham.

Rep. Sewell: Mr. Speaker, I rise to recognize Major League Baseball’s Tribute to the Negro Leagues, which will take place at the historic Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Alabama, beginning Tuesday, June 18th, 2024, and culminating with an MLB game—the Giants versus the Cardinals—on Thursday, June 20th. 

Built in 1910, Birmingham’s historic Rickwood Field is the oldest professional baseball field in the United States. For 36 years it served as the official home to the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro Leagues, and to this day, it continues to stand as a living monument of baseball history. 

For decades, the Black Barons were a beacon of excellence in Birmingham’s community. Between 1943 and 1948, they racked up a win percentage of more than 60% and captured three Negro League pennants. At the height of Jim Crow segregation, the success of the Black Barons at Rickwood Field galvanized and united Birmingham’s Black community. The stands were always overflowing with fans eager to cheer on their favorite team. 

Over the years, Rickwood Field has hosted a number of baseball giants including Willie Mays from Fairfield, Alabama, Satchel Paige, Jackie Robinson, Hank Aaron, Josh Gibson, and of course, Birmingham’s own Black Baron, Reverend William Greason, who, at the age of 99, continues to give back to his Birmingham community as pastor of Bethel Baptist Church Berney Points. 

With the help of Major League Baseball, Rickwood Field has undergone major renovations. Beginning on Tuesday, June 18th, it will host a series of events to pay tribute to the Negro Leagues and to recognize the contributions of African Americans to baseball history. On June 18th, Rickwood Field will host a Minor League contest between the Birmingham Barons and the Montgomery Biscuits. On Wednesday, June 19th, to commemorate Juneteenth, I will honor the Negro Leagues by hosting a tribute to William Greason, our 99-year-old constituent who played for the Birmingham Black Barons from 1948 to 1951 at 1 p.m. at Bethel Baptist Church Berney Points. Later that day, the Birmingham community will join together with MLB for a celebrity softball game in celebration of Juneteenth.

The events will culminate with a special regular season game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the San Francisco Giants on Thursday, June 20th. It will be the first MLB game played at a Negro League stadium in America’s history.

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As we gather to celebrate Juneteenth, I can think of no more befitting time to honor the Negro Leagues. I look forward to welcoming Major League Baseball and my colleagues of the Congressional Black Caucus to Birmingham, Alabama, for a time of reflection and celebration.

I ask my colleagues to join me in recognizing Major League Baseball for their tribute to the Negro Leagues at Rickwood Field. Thank you, and let’s play ball!

The video of Rep. Sewell’s remarks can be viewed here.

The Alabama Political Reporter is a daily political news site devoted to Alabama politics. We provide accurate, reliable coverage of policy, elections and government.

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