Just days before the St. Louis Cardinals head across the pond to play the Chicago Cubs in London, Major League Baseball announced the Cardinals will face the San Francisco Giants at Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Alabama on June 20, 2024. Rickwood Field is the oldest standing ballpark in America.

Rickwood Field was the former home of the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro Leagues. MLB said in a statement that the game will be played as a tribute to the Negro Leagues and its greatest living player — Hall of Famer, Willie Mays. Before playing for the Giants, the Birmingham native was a star for the Black Barons.

The park opened on August 10, 1910, and has had many other stars of the game play on its diamond–from Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson, and Honus Wagner, to the Yankees and Babe Ruth, who would stop off in Birmingham and play exhibition games there. The Cardinals also have historic ties to the ballpark.

Rogers Hornsby played at Rickwood and former Cardinals pitching sensation Dizzy Dean was involved in one of the most memorable games in the field’s history. Dizzy played for the Cardinals from 1930-37, and early in his career pitched at Rickwood and lost 1-0 in a pitcher’s duel against the Barons’ Ray Caldwell, a 43-year-old pitcher in the twilight of his career. According to their website, “the brash young phenom Dean had guaranteed a victory.”

Even Stan the Man once hit a home run over Rickwood’s long right field wall, which you can tell from this recent aerial view, how much further the original outfield wall was from home plate.

Aerial View of Rickwood Field in Birmingham. (credit Rickwood Field)

By chance, back in December, I had an opportunity to take a tour of Rickwood Field with my best friend. The guide on our tour had told us that the field had discussions with MLB about bringing games to Birmingham, similar to the Field of Dreams games played in Iowa. On the visit, our guide also told us that there were strict necessities MLB needed from the field. Everything from general repairs, new lighting, and even different warning track gravel that had to be a certain size. Estimated improvements ranged in the $3 million range.

I thought it would be a huge longshot that Rickwood Field would be able to host a game, let alone the news coming down just six months after my visit!

Cardinals fans should plan to be there. After the Cardinals-Sox game was canceled in 2020 in Iowa, this matchup next year with the Giants will be more memorable. This will be a field where legends played and weren’t portrayed by actors in some cornfield.