Meet Some of the People


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Before the Great Depression,
Before the first World War,
Even before there was a Birmingham,
There was baseball.

This book celebrates the beginnings and growth of a minor league baseball team that weathered the First World War and the start of the Great Depression. Showdown at Rickwood recounts tales of a group of baseball players, names as familiar as Pie Traynor, Burleigh Grimes, and Dizzy Dean. Other names, like Pop Boy Smith, Billy Bancroft, and Carlton Molesworth, are not so recognizable. But all of them come alive in this captivating story of a hard-won championship played at a ball park that is now America’s oldest.

The ball players you meet in this book are men of the time from various backgrounds. You don’t expect to get emotionally involved, but the story and the men you’ll meet in these pages will charm you, break your heart, and remind you why baseball is the national pastime. What makes this book and these men exceptional? The combination of their unique personalities and talents and the skill with which the author brings them to life decades after their deaths.

You start rooting for the men of the Birmingham Barons early on, and the way the author factors in world events makes you a part of a time and a way of life left far behind. It is, in part, history and biography, but so much larger. Names that once would have been no more than footnotes in history come alive, warts and all. This is a celebration. Not simply joy; it’s a celebration of people who overcame major challenges to survive at what they wanted most to do. It is, in the end, a celebration of the human spirit.