Skip to Content
Protective Stadium as seen from above
Protective Stadium

Sports legacy

Some of the greatest sports players in history got their start right here in Birmingham. Learn more about the city’s sports legacy at the Negro Southern League Museum, visit the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame and experience the magic of a first pitch at Rickwood Field.

Alabama Sports Hall of Fame

The Alabama Sports Hall of Fame (ASHOF) showcases and preserves the stories and accomplishments of athletes past and present who bring lasting fame and honor to the state of Alabama.

The Alabama Sports Hall of Fame was established by the Alabama State Legislature in 1967. Zipp Newman, Sports Editor Emeritus of the Birmingham News, worked with former Alabama football player Holt Rast, a member of the Alabama House of Representatives, to establish the ASHOF. Major League Baseball Player Frank "Pig" House served as the first Chairman of the Board, and the first class was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 1969. Over the last 50 plus years, the ASHOF has honored some of the greatest sports figures in the nation, including Jesse Owens, Bart Starr, Willie Mays, Alice Coachman Davis, Bo Jackson, Mia Hamm and many more. 

In 1992, the ASHOF opened a 33,000-square-foot museum that is home to over 6,000 pieces of sports memorabilia. The ASHOF museum remains one of the largest sports halls of fame in the nation.

Learn more about the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame 

Negro Southern League Museum

The Negro Southern League was created in 1920 and served as a feeder route for many great black baseball players to go on to the Negro American League and Negro National League until its demise in 1951. Over the years, more than 80 teams were members of the league. 

The Negro Southern League Museum features the largest collection of original baseball artifacts in the country, from the 1800s to modern day, and an on-site research center supported by seven of the top researchers in Negro Southern League baseball history. Must-see items include Satchel Paige’s game-used uniform and 1,500 signed baseballs.

The mission of the Negro Southern League Museum is to present the history of African-American baseball by maintaining a world-class facility that recognizes the League’s impact on Birmingham and the world of professional baseball. This understanding, along with the acknowledgement of the players’ ability to inspire people of all races and transcend barriers, establishes a blueprint for the museum to evoke a broad sense of community and create unparalleled cultural and educational experiences that acknowledge the past, embrace the present and frame the future.

Learn more about the Negro Southern League Museum

Rickwood Field

Rickwood Field was the passionate pursuit of a young Birmingham industrialist named Rick Woodward. He worked alongside legend Connie Mack to design “The Finest Minor League Ballpark Ever” in the booming iron-and-steel town that was the fastest growing city in the nation at that time. Today, Rickwood Field is America’s oldest baseball park.

Rickwood Field’s opening day took place on Aug. 18, 1910. The city, fueled by Woodward’s contagious passion and the fervent publicity, closed in honor of the park’s opening day.

Modeled primarily after Forbes Field in Pittsburgh, Rickwood Field lived up to its owner’s wildest dreams. Over the years, this diamond dazzled with play by some of the greatest players in baseball history. The 1910s brought standing-room-only crowds and hosted future hall of famers like Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson, Honus “The Flying Dutchman” Wagner, and Birmingham’s hometeam sensation Burleigh Grimes, the last legal spitball pitcher in the Big Leagues. It even had frequent visits by the Yankees and Babe Ruth.

Throughout those glorious early years, record-breaking crowds overflowed Rickwood’s stands. And, for everyone who walked through the gates, the experience was nothing short of magic.

Each year, friends and fans eagerly await the annual Rickwood Classic, a game that pits the AA Birmingham Barons against a regular Southern League rival. At this game, team members dress in vintage uniforms and celebrate baseball history.

Learn more about Rickwood Field

Arrows linking indicating relationship

Related Articles