published: June, 14th 2019
Photo from Rickwood Field: The Oak Mountain Lightning
Read below as Kevin tells the story of a memory of lifetime with his son. His wife said it best when she commented that Kevin really missed his calling as a sportswriter. Kevin resides in Birmingham with his wife and two children. Kevin joined RFG Advisory in 2015 and has been in the financial planning business since 2003.
Author: RFG Advisor, Kevin Harper, CFP®
The iron gates opened for the first time in 1910. It stands as America’s oldest ballpark, and the Oak Mountain Lightning played 2 at Rickwood Field today.
It was my first time to ever walk into Rickwood. Both the scale and the history are unavoidable. Through a narrow passage in the current outfield wall, stands the concrete original, where centerfield, measures 470 feet from home plate. From the sunken dugouts, it is a 20 yard, upward sloping walk to reach each foul line, that resemble curbs from the buildup of years of chalk along the lines that has settled into the green turf. And wild pitches or passed balls, easily reach the backstop, which is 90 feet behind and 3 feet below home plate. The lights are strung along 50 foot steel towers, perched on the wooden roof of the grandstand, some of the first ever erected for night baseball. Rickwood is vast in every way.
It is impossible to like baseball and not be moved by a visit to Rickwood. Baseball’s ELITE played at Rickwood. Roberto Clemente, Yogi Berra, Stan Musial, Ernie Banks, Josh Gibson, Dizzy Dean, Lou Gehrig, Satchel Paige, Willy Mays, Hank Aaron, Reggie Jackson, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Jackie Robinson, Honus Wagner, Ty Cobb, and George Herman Ruth all played here. Stop for a minute and really consider this list. It is truly amazing.
But today, it was us, and two other teams we know well and play often (and who have become friends), who got to experience Rickwood. Who knows if the kids heard the pregame talk about enjoying the experience, and thinking about the guys who played here, etc...I hope they did. I hope they paid attention and absorbed some of the significance of today, as baseball players. I hope they thought for a minute, about what it would have been like watching Reggie Jackson walk to the plate, or Roberto Clemente run the bases, or Josh Gibson throw out a runner at second. Who would have stayed in the batters box, when Satchel Paige whizzed a fastball by their chin? I think about those things because I am a sentimental baseball dork.
I really hope they remember today. It was truly great. I hope they dwell on this experience when they are 60.
But mostly, I hope they heard their voices.