The best way non-baseball fans can understand is to describe him as the “Michael Jordan of Baseball” on the field, but off the diamond, his personality rivaled his performance. This is just a glimpse into why the commemoration of the Negro Leagues by Major League Baseball at the legendary Rickwood Field will be a three-day celebration of the life of baseball legend Willie Mays.


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Not only is Rickwood Field one of the premiere stadiums of the Negro Leagues, where Mays began his professional baseball career as a member of the Birmingham Black Barons, but Birmingham, Alabama is also the birthplace of Mays, who’s commonly known among baseball enthusiasts as the “Say Hey Kid”. There will be an inaugural Juneteenth event that proceeds the big game between Mays’ MLB alma mater San Francisco Giants and the St. Louis Cardinals. Wednesday’s “Birmingham Barnstorm” Fam Jam Celebrity Softball Game is a face-off between Derek Jeter’s “Hammers” honoring the late home run king Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds Jr.’s “Sey Heys”, who are playing in the name of Bonds’ godfather, who is none other than, you guessed it, Willie Mays. Bonds’ who is currently Major League’s asterisked all time home run leader, has always told intimate stores of his late godfather and because of their close relationship, this could be the reason that Bonds may not be able to serve as the Sey Heys’ team captain today.

The main attraction will, of course, be tomorrow’s game between the San Francisco Giants and the St. Louis Cardinals at the historic Birmingham field and to properly recognize the contributions of the Negro Leagues to what we know today as Major League Baseball, the two MLB teams will be wearing replicas of the Negro League uniforms. The Giants will be playing as the “SeaLions”, which was a West Coast Negro League team based in San Francisco in 1946. West Virginia-born Marcenia Lyle Stone aka Toni Stone, began playing for the Sea Lions in 1949, becoming the first female to ever play in the Negro Leagues.

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The St. Louis Cards will be donning “St. Louis Stars” uniforms, repping for the Negro National League’s three-time champions, the St. Louis Stars. Playing from 1922-1931, the Stars’ roster included several Negro League Hall Of Famers including Willie Wells, James Thomas Bell aka “Cool Papa Bell”, Mule Nettles and others.

As described by MLB.com., “fans will witness another kind of history as stars of entertainment, sports and baseball descend on Birmingham” as the celebrity softball game, which will include notables such as Karen Civil, DC Young Fly, Terrell Owens, Omari Hardwick and a host of MLB legends including former Phillies star Jimmy Rollins, the Yankees’ CC Sabathia and Alex Rodriguez, “Big Papi” David Ortiz, Adam Jones and countless others. The game will conclude with a feature performance by ATL super producer Metro Boomin, who will definitely bring out the crowds who aren’t necessarily baseball fans.

Arguably the best all around player in baseball, the Birmingham-born “King of the Diamond” will definitely be honored in regal baseball fashion at Rickwood. The Negro League Baseball Museum will notably recognize Mr. Mays in all of the ceremonies, as the President of the NLBM Bob Kendrick gave this statement about the passing of Mays.

“All of us at the Negro League Baseball Museum are devastated by the news of the passing of the great Willie Mays. Willie so beautifully represented the heart and soul of everything that made the Negro Leagues special on the road to becoming a Hall of Famer and in the hearts and minds of many, the greatest Major Leaguer of all time. While our hearts are heavy, we’ll remember and celebrate him for the unbridled joy he brought to the game! We extend our heartfelt condolences to the Mays family and his legion of fans worldwide.'”

The Birmingham Barnstorm celebrity softball game wil begin tonight at 7PM EST while the Negro League Tribute will be held tomorrow(June 20) AT 6:15PM EST and can be seen on FOX Sports.

MLB is extending the Rickwood Game “Beyond the Ballpark” to the Birmingham community at four local bars and restaurants on Thursday, June 20. The official “Beyond the Ballpark” watch parties start at 5 p.m. CT at the following locations:

Continental Drift
2201 7th Ave S
Birmingham, AL 35233
RSVP HERE

Denim on 7th
2808 7th Ave S #105
Birmingham, AL 35233
RSVP HERE

Uptown Jazz Lounge
2250-B 9th Ave N
Birmingham, AL 35203
RSVP HERE

SLEEK Sports Bar
1005 20th St S
Birmingham, AL 35205
RSVP HERE