Historic Day in Major League Baseball: Cardinals Edge Giants at Rickwood Field

Historic Day in Major League Baseball: Cardinals Edge Giants at Rickwood Field

The St. Louis Cardinals edged the San Francisco Giants 6-5 in an exhilarating game that marked Major League Baseball's first-ever contest at Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Alabama. Rickwood Field, which predates both Wrigley Field and Fenway Park, once served as the home of the Negro League's Birmingham Black Barons, making it a site rich in baseball history.

A Touching Tribute to Willie Mays

The game took place just two days after the passing of baseball legend Willie Mays, who died at the age of 93. Mays began his professional career at Rickwood Field, playing for the Black Barons before signing with the Giants. In a heartfelt tribute, Major League Baseball honored Mays' life and career during the event.

Mays' iconic No. 24 was prominently displayed behind home plate. His son, Michael Mays, was escorted onto the field by baseball greats Barry Bonds and Ken Griffey Jr. The ceremonial first pitch was thrown by Bill Greason, a former teammate of Willie Mays on the Black Barons and the first Black pitcher in Cardinals history.

The Giants honored Mays by wearing patches on their jerseys that paid homage to the San Francisco Sea Lions, while the Cardinals sported uniforms modeled after the St. Louis Stars.

Distinguished Guests in Attendance

The game drew several notable attendees, underlining the significance of the occasion. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and special assistant Joe Torre were present at the game. The crowd also included former All-Stars Reggie Jackson, Albert Pujols, and CC Sabathia. Bob Kendrick, president of the Negro League Hall of Fame, was another distinguished guest.

Donovan Shines in Home State Return

Returning to his home state, Brendan Donovan had a remarkable game, going 3-for-3. He hit his seventh home run of the season, added a double, and drove in three runs, making a significant impact on the Cardinals' victory. Nolan Gorman contributed by driving in two runs on sacrifice flies, and Alec Burleson scored on a wild pitch.

Ramos Keeps the Momentum

For the Giants, Heliot Ramos entered the game with an impressive .310/.388/.545 hitting line, boasting nine home runs and 32 RBIs over 38 games. He did not disappoint, launching a three-run home run in the third inning. Wilmer Flores and Nick Ahmed each added a run, keeping the game competitive.

Injury Cloud Hangs over Yastrzemski

However, not all was rosy for the Giants. Mike Yastrzemski exited the game due to side tightness. Before his departure, Yastrzemski had a season hitting line of .220/.300/.403 with seven home runs, ten additional extra-base hits, and a 1.5 WAR over 66 games. His injury could pose a significant setback for the Giants moving forward.

What's Next

The series between the Giants and the Cardinals will resume on Saturday. Thursday's game at Rickwood Field will be remembered as a landmark event that provided a fitting tribute to Willie Mays. Commissioner Rob Manfred summed up the significance of the day, stating, "The event was a testament to baseball's enduring legacy and a symbol of hope, remembrance, and progress."