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HISTORIC Rickwood Field has undergone a long-overdue restoration ahead of the MLB's arrival.

The oldest surviving professional baseball stadium in the country, Rickwood Field was first constructed in 1910.

Rickwood Field is a historic stadium in Birmingham, Alabama
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Rickwood Field is a historic stadium in Birmingham, AlabamaCredit: Getty
It was constructed in 1914 at a cost of $75,000
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It was constructed in 1914 at a cost of $75,000Credit: Rickwood.com
It was recently renovated ahead of an MLB game to be held in tribute to the Negro Leagues
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It was recently renovated ahead of an MLB game to be held in tribute to the Negro LeaguesCredit: AP

The venue was first designed to house the Birmingham Barons, with the intention of their owner, Rick Woodward, for it to be "The Finest Minor League Ballpark Ever," as per their website.

Able to seat 5,000 fans, the stadium was only the fifth built from concrete and steel for use in baseball and consisted of a layout similar to that of Philadelphia's Shibe Park, the MLB explains.

Built at a cost of $75,000, the stadium wound up playing host to the Barons for 78 years, until they moved to the newly built Hoover Metropolitan Stadium.

The Barons occasionally return for one-off games at Rickwood.

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It was also the home of the Negro League's Birmingham Black Barons throughout the entirety of the team's 40-year existence, beginning in 1920.

Since the departures of both the Barons and the Black Barons, the stadium wound up falling into disrepair by the early 1990s.

Fears of its potential demolition were prevalent, however, it was Hollywood that spurred the beginning of the ballpark's rejuvenation.

The 1994 movie Cobb, depicting the life of Hall of Famer Ty Cobb, was filmed at the stadium after local fundraising brought it "to a level where the film could be done," as per the chairman of the board of the Friends of Rickwood, Gerald Watkins in an interview with USA Today.

Fast forward three decades and Rickwood Field would receive a new lease on life with the MLB's decision to host a game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the San Francisco Giants at the ground in tribute to the Negro Leagues on June 20.

MLB field consultant Murray Cook, who first visited the stadium in 2022, described it as "a really unique, cool place."

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However, in order for it to be considered MLB-ready, it needed significant work.

"The big challenge with Rickwood was to ensure we maintained the magic and history of the venue," Cook said.

This history includes 182 future Hall of Famers who all graced the stadium with their presence.

Players such as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, and Willie Mays - who started his career with the Black Barons - all made appearances at Rickwood, as per Alabama News Center.

The mixture of weeds and grass left the field as "a rec-level," adding that "the dugouts were like bunkers."

The Black Barons were disbanded in 1960, with the Barons leaving the ballpark in 1988
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The Black Barons were disbanded in 1960, with the Barons leaving the ballpark in 1988Credit: Reuters

Cook also noted the bizarre toll 100 years' worth of chalk had taken on the foul likes.

"This made the line literally a foot higher than the field on either side of it," he explained.

The dugouts, backstop, foul poles, and fencing were all replaced, while two feet of the playing surface were excavated, with a modern drainage system and field put in its place.

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Temporary structures were put in place outside the stadium to house locker rooms and media facilities, while temporary lighting and a large screen have also been brought in for the game.

As for the stadium itself, they ensured not to add anything to the main structure.

It was previously the home of both the Birmingham Barons and the Birmingham Black Barons
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It was previously the home of both the Birmingham Barons and the Birmingham Black BaronsCredit: Getty
Many of the stadium's historic features remain
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Many of the stadium's historic features remainCredit: AP
The MLB opted to keep the ballpark's historic look during the renovation
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The MLB opted to keep the ballpark's historic look during the renovationCredit: Getty
Both former and current players paid tribute to Hall of Famer Willie Mays ahead of Thursday's game
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Both former and current players paid tribute to Hall of Famer Willie Mays ahead of Thursday's gameCredit: AP
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