Thursday, June 07, 2007

He's got my vote

Here's what happens when you call State Senator Bishop a homo:

Actually, Republician Senator Charles Bishop punched Democratic Senator Lowell Barron in the head during the last day of the senate session. Bishop says he punched Barron after he called him a "son of a b*."

According to some fellow senators on tonight's local newscasts, it went down like this: after failing to reach an agreement on something, Barron allegedly said to Bishop "You better watch your back over the next three years, because I'll be there to [expletive deleted] you every chance I get." For some reason that set Bishop off.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

eh, I'm kinda pulling for the Cavs...

...but I love these nuns! They rock.

San Antonio nuns offer prayers for Spurs

Sister Rosalba Garcia, center, Sister Angelina Gomez, right, and several other nuns of the Salesian Sister of Mary Immaculate Province gather in front of their San Antonio Spurs banner, Tuesday. More>>

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

"It's like the end of an 85-year rain delay..."

the Kansas City Athletics organization, under owner Charles Finley, brought integrated baseball to Birmingham* tagline from the 1995 Rickwood Classic promotion

Ok, so I went to the Rickwood Classic after all. Part of it, that is. After my CLE let out last Wednesday, I decided to go over and see how much of the game was left. I pulled right up in to a real good parking spot up close - money. Cautiously approaching the turnstyles, no ticket agents, no ticket takers, I walk right on through - money. Making my way to the stands, I joined a solid crowd of 5,802 paid attendees in time for the 6th inning - I'm so money.

Charlie O's first thought in moving the major league A's was Birmingham, however her troubles of the 60's made it impossibleFor this season's Classic, the Barons were sporting the old green & gold of the 1964 Birmingham Barons. The '64 Barons were the first integrated professional baseball team in Birmingham, courtesy of Ensley's own, Charlie O, who made Birmingham the AA affiliate to his then-Kansas City A's. That installment (later re-christened the B'ham A's) was part of what would grow to be one the best farm systems in baseball. Players like Reggie Jackson, Rollie Fingers, & Vida Blue would play under Rickwood's lights, and eventually go on to Oakland A's World Series glory.

Birmingham Barons players Sean Smith and Eric Hollis, center, talk after they and their teammates lined up for the National Anthem. ©The B'ham News/
get Good Wood and help keep Rickwood aliveOn display in the Rickwood conference room was tons of old Barons, Black Barons, and A's memorabilia. Very cool. Two big display cases full of A's uniforms, bats & things were supplied by Mr. Glynn West, who was general manager of the A's. They were also selling souvenir scorecards for $1 - the front office girl didn't have change for a ten, so she just handed me one and said "it's on me." - Again, I'm so money. Also on hand was author Ben Cook selling & autographing copies of his book Good Wood: A Fan's History of Rickwood Field. I didn't score a free copy of that - not so money, I guess. Oh well.

But just as there were many in the stands glued to the game, so too were several like me who just had to walk around. I mean, unless you're going to a West End-Parker high school baseball game, you don't have too many opportunities to soak up America's oldest ballpark. And boy is it old. Go to the top of the stands above third base and walk along, looking over the rail at the old industrial neighborhood, with the downtown skyline as a backdrop. It looks cool. I strolled over to the right field stands (where Ted Williams is said to have measured the distance to the roof, to ensure accurate HR measuring), and looked beyond the outfield wall, where the original wall still stands, still bearing original measurements. CF was a meager 478'! (It is now a more workable 393'.) I walked around that whole ballpark, casually strolling up to the players entrance (while they were still in play), as well in to the clubhouse (after the game) to see these huge posters of Willie Mays and Babe Ruth. Also in the club house is a restored manager's office, circa 1940's. Oh, and after the game, fans got to go out on the field. How cool is it to stand on a pitchers' mound where pitchers like Satchel Paige and Dizzy Dean once stood?

Anywho, I'm not a big fan of incessant "journal-ing" on blogs, but my point is, the park is great, but she's not completely back to old-glory-status yet. Even though there are retro ads on the outfield wall and she has a fresh coat of green paint on the outside, she needs some serious work. Having the distinction of being only the fifth concrete-and-steel ballpark constructed in the U.S., she is now riddled by peeling paint on the seats, outdated concession stands, and holes in the concrete in the stands. Even the dugouts (which aren't original) until could use some work, IMHO - perhaps enlarging it, padded benches, something. The neighborhood closely resembles a demilitarized zone - driving over to the park, it is painfully obvious why we had to move. For the Classic, it seemed like half of the B.P.D. was out in force, even in their mobile-command-swat-bus thingy.

She is a gem. I wish the Friends of Rickwood the best in their quest to preserve such an important piece of baseball history. Perhaps one day, when the Met gets so run-down and the Trace Crossings neighborhood just gets too dangerous, when B'ham's "urban renewal" is complete, then perhaps pro ball will return to the city. Oh well, see you at next year's Classic - maybe then I'll actually buy a ticket.