And in the end....

By 2002, I thought I had hit the end of my baseball road. Always wanting to visit Birmingham, a jaunt brought me to Hoover Stadium, home of the Birmingham Barons, AA southern League. It was a very unremarkable team and stadium. Evidently, everyone else down there thought the same thing as the team drew less than 1200 people, even on Willie Mays bobblehead night. My research had informed me of a park in Birmingham no longer used for pro ball but maintained as a historical site, Rickwood Field. I had spoken to the affable director, David Brewer, on the phone and not knowing how a visit was going to change my life, I headed to the oldest park in the country. To say that I was smitten was an understatement of the nth degree (with the park, not David....) As history would have it, the late Ernest Withers, my mentor and pal, had photographed the Birmingham Black Barons with a young outfielder name of Willie Mays in the later 40's.

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