Not being the type to do things half way, I donned my throwback flannels and represented my House of David barnstormers all the way down to long sleeved undershirt and stirrups. I posed for upwards of twenty photos, everyone must have liked the classic attire!
We found the Rickwood with little problems and parked easily nearby for five bucks, ten more got a ticket into what I found to be Disney+Christmas=Baseball heaven. After getting our tickets at the main window we passed into the the green painted concrete entrance. Our tickets were torn and I purchased a program. I wouldn't be scoring the game today but you can't NOT buy one.
We had a chance to meet the guest of honor, Dwight Gooden. It was a short fifteen minutes or so wait before we found ourselves in an air conditioned room where the former Pitcher was meeting the peeps. Not sure what was cooler, the air conditioning or the New York star hurler himself.
Doctor K was all smiles and very friendly and outgoing, it was a joy to meet him, even in that situation. It can be awkward in a meet and greet scene sometimes but Doc was at ease and smooth to talk to. He even took a moment to pose for a quick photo, very cool!
GET A SEAT!
Our group grabbed a frozen lemonade and headed down the right field line to grab a seat. The first five or six rows were fenced off and reserved seats, we took general admission like everyone else and had a fine view of the classic outfield ads.
The hand-operated scoreboard was a treat to see, as are the vintage style lighting standards.
The bleachers were angled aluminum with a back to lean against. They were very comfortable for metal bleachers, many a ballpark bleacher has numbed my butt with its waffle or linear imprints, but Rickwoods bleachers were rather comfy and provided plenty of space for the 8600+ attendees!
Fans were also rewarded with a swift breeze and friendly clouds, making the upper 80s temps much more bearable. The concrete and steel structure seemed to cool the air as it wound its way up the ramps to the grandstand and the field beyond, offering a respite to overheated fans and players alike. The ramps are worn like the steps of a Roman road, nearly a hundred years of faithful feet seeking summer distraction and hoping for a breeze to carry the cheers of a home team rally.
The pastoral scene would have been nearly unbearable without that breeze to cool the air and carry the chatter of the interested bystanders. The game itself was quiet, overwhelmed by the excitement of the crowd in the midst of the experience. Until the first long fly ball cleared the centerfield fence and brought the fans attention back to between the lines.
THERE WAS A GAME GOING ON
The game saw the Barons fall to the Braves, 5-2.
Mississippi's Lohman hit the home run, doubled and drove in three runs. Australian-born backstop Matt Kennelly tripled and the Braves added three other extra base hits to boot.
Starter Greg Ross pitched very well, reliever John Cornely got seven big outs on three strikeouts. Chasen Shreve struck out the side in the ninth for the save.
|Sp Greg Ross delivers a pitch, 1b Seth Lohman covers the bag as Barons Medina leads off|
For the Barons, only catcher Martin Medina posted multiple hits. He had two knocks and threw out a runner attempting to swipe second base. Leadoff hitter Jared Mitchell had a hit but was picked off first base.
|Mitchell strays too far from first base|
B'ham starter Chris McCully pitched better than the fate he received, five innings with just two earned but took the loss.
|McCully warms as lineups are announced|
NEGRO LEAGUERS REUNION
Also I got to meet the Negro League Reunion players. Those guys are just cool, no two ways about it. Its fun to just stand there and hear them talk baseball, their games, their kids, their cars or whatever is on their mind! I didn't take any photos here, I spent all my time with my ears open...
player one "...I had three hits every day for a week and never once had to stop at first base, they was all doubles, triples and home runs"
player two "Man you never had three hits in a week! You didn't stop at first cause you always made the last out and was scared to go back to the dugout!"
player one "Aw, you don't know, you were playin for pesos the year I should have won the league Mvp, I had four home runs in that one week alone"
player two "You must have been playing alone for three weeks to hit four home runs"
player three "hey now, I played in Texas, those pesos spend too"
I liked them and they seemed to like me - it was wonderful to see smiles from the faces of these guys, several of whom proudly announced that they played against the House of David. The guys pointed and talked to each other about my old flannel uni, sparking a new conversation on hot uniforms.
player one "I'm from Oklahoma and I am here to tell you, this is hot enough for me today"
player two "Hot?! Man you ain't know'd hot, today is nice weather!"
and so began a new round of good natured ribbing!
MEETING A LEGEND
Tho Not a Living One
Walking around Rickwood I came upon a familiar face, one that looks like it could hit 714 home runs or win 20 games on the mound.
I got a very cool invite to the March conference in Bham, I'm told there is a group that studies the Southern league and has a spring meeting annually. The next one will be centered on the pre-1900 era SL history, so I will have to study up on my early Gump-teams!
I met so many folks at the park its impossible to list all of them, but it was wonderful to put faces to some names, names to some faces and meet brand new friends all in one day! I simply don't have the space to go over all that happened or was discussed, it was a great day of baseball in so many ways.
Roberto Gomez hits the DL, Bryce Stowell returns.
Jeremy Moore heads to Durham and to replace him we get Centerfielder Kes Carter.
Hey man, someone screwed up.... Kes Carter is a first rounder! I was thinkin we would get the usual third catcher or another starting pitcher with a 25 pitch count limit. Instead we get pleasantly surprised with the arrival of Carter, who will offer us the chance to rest an oufielder without locking in an oh-fer in the fifth spot of the batting order.
|Biscuits CF Kes Carter|
wait, why are we getting this guy?
He must have glove! Defense, right?
Not so much. He's got a .968 fielding percentage this year, similar to his low average afield in 2o12. He does have an arm, posting five double plays and 16 assists in his 217 career games.
Maybe he is more than the sum of his parts, maybe he is the defensive diamond in the rough. Maybe they want Ozzie to fix his swing or teach him the strike zone. Maybe he is the missing ingredient in this batch of Biscuits.