The Tenth Inning
 The Tenth Inning Blog
Periodically, I will post new entries about current baseball topics.  The posts will typically be a mixture of commentary, history, facts, and stats.  Hopefully, they will provoke some  of your thoughts or emotions. Clicking on the word "Comments" associated with each post below will open a new dialog box to enter or retrieve any feedback.
Historic Rickwood Field site of New Orleans Pelicans' longest Opening Day game

The spotlight will be on Rickwood Field in Birmingham on June 20, when Major League Baseball plays a game between the St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants. Rickwood is the oldest professional baseball stadium in the country, built in 1910 for the minor-league Birmingham Barons. The stadium is older than two legendary major-league venues still in use, Fenway Park (built in 1912) and Wrigley Field (built in 1914).

In addition to being the home of the Barons, Rickwood was the site of major-league exhibition games, barnstorming games, and Negro League games played by the hometown Birmingham Black Barons. Over the years, many Hall of Fame players and Negro League players appeared in games there.

The Birmingham Barons played in the Southern Association, where the former New Orlean Pelicans minor-league team also competed for nearly 60 years.

One of the more memorable games in Pelicans history occurred at Rickwood on April 10, 1953. The two teams dueled for 16 innings, with the Barons finally winning, 8-7. It was the longest Opening Day game in Pelicans history.

At the end of nine innings, the score was tied 7-7, as Birmingham remained alive with two runs in the bottom of the ninth.

The Barons’ winning run in the 16th inning was created by a combination of Emil Tellinger’s double, a Pelicans’ error on a sacrifice bunt attempt, an intentional walk to George Moskovich, and Hal Smith’s game-winning hit.

Local New Orleans pitcher Lenny Yochim pitched the final 5 1/3 innings for the Pelicans and gave up the winning run. He had hurled five scoreless innings prior to that.

Lou Klein, another New Orleans native, was the hitting star for the Pelicans. He got four hits, including a home run in the fifth inning.

Pelicans catcher Mel Brookey collected three hits and three RBIs and went the distance behind the plate.

A crowd of 8,044 attended the game at Rickwood Field that lasted four hours and 36 minutes.

Yochim went on to become a renowned Pittsburgh Pirates scout for over 35 years. As a major-league rookie, Klein was a member of the 1943 St. Louis Cardinals NL pennant-winning team. He was the manager of the Chicago Cubs in parts of three seasons in the 1960s.

The game between the Cardinals and Giants will be a tribute to the Negro Leagues. Hall of Famer  Willie Mays, who played for the Black Barons in 1948 as a 17-year-old, played in Game 4 of the Negro League World Series that was played against the Homestead Grays in New Orleans.


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