Tag Archives: David Brewer

14th Annual Southern Association Conference at Rickwood Field

scan0001Yesterday, I attended the 14th annual Southern Association Conference in Birmingham, and want to take this time to encourage you to be a part of this event next year. The Rickwood Field SABR chapter put on quite a conference, led by David Brewer and Clarence Watkins; but the opportunity to visit Rickwood Field is great in itself – it is truly one of America’s historic ballparks.

To be able to hear presentations about baseball in the South, among friends in a casual setting, was great. To wax poetic: Baseball was literally “in the air”.  Attendees came from Mobile, Memphis, Nashville, Birmingham, Montgomery, and Atlanta; we heard presentations about baseball in Montgomery (and pitcher Roy “Goat” Walker), Selma, the Southern Association, and vintage player A. T. Pearsall, but sidebar conversations were ongoing beyond.

An added treat was lunch with former Montgomery Rebels player and minor league manager Ted Brazell. One could literally hear and feel the passion Ted has with his love of the game of baseball. It was inspiring.

More than anything, the friendships rekindled and friendships made were more than worth the trip. The date could change, but put the first Saturday of March, 2018 on your calendar. You won’t be disappointed.

© 2017 by Skip Nipper. All Rights Reserved.

Leave a comment

Filed under Current, History, Research

12th Annual Southern Association Conference at Birmingham’s Rickwood Field

Rickwood Field, Birmingham’s historic ballpark, is preserved through the efforts of the Friends of Rickwood and maintains Rickwood, built in 1910 as home to the Barons and used by the Negro League Birmingham Black Barons.

Over 200 amateur games are still played there, and each year the AA Southern League’s Barons host a regular season turn-back-the-clock contest dubbed the “Rickwood Classic”; this year’s game will be played on Wednesday, May 27th, as the Barons host the Jacksonville Suns at 12:30 PM. Former New York Mets star Darryl Strawberry will be the featured guest.

2015 ProgramA visit to Rickwood should be on every baseball fan’s list of places to visit. The ballpark hails a time when Sunday doubleheaders were played in the sweltering heat and future major leaguers hoped to move up the ranks to the majors. Each time I visit I think of what it must have been like for Nashville Vols Buster Boguskie, Lance Richbourg, Tom Rogers, Phil Weintraub, Bill Rodda, Boots Poffenberger, and Babe Barna to have played there. And how proud they’d be that it is still there.

It is such an iconic picture of baseball’s past that Rickwood has been used for commercials and movies.

The movie about Jackie Robinson, “42” utilized the ballpark during filming.

Like baseball? Like history? Like the history of southern baseball? Then you’ll need to remember this for the future: the Friends of Rickwood group sponsors an annual conference dedicated to the history of the Southern League (1885-1899) and Southern Association (1901-1961). It is a gathering of historians, writers, fans, and players who are interested in sharing their research, stories, and memorabilia.

The 12th Annual Southern Association Conference was held this past Saturday on March 7 after an informal gathering the evening before.

P1011126What took place? Well, the usual shaking of hands, pats on the backs, and hugs from friendships gained over previous conferences. But that’s not all.

The 28 attendees were treated to presentations on the birth of the Southern League (1884-1885); a perspective on Atlanta’s Henry W. Grady, an integral leader in the formation of the 19th Century league; an image of the 1885 Nashville Americans; a summary of a new book on the horizon about the Negro Southern League; and images and film about the Birmingham Barons.

P1011127Of particular interest to me was film presented by Birmingham and Memphis historian Clarence “Skip” Watkins which included color footage of a game between the Memphis Chicks and Nashville Vols. In color. Wow.

During the all-day event, we were treated to viewings of memorabilia collections and discussions about the old ballparks, teams, and what the future holds for southern professional baseball.

David Brewer, director of Friends of Rickwood, and Watkins came up with the idea in 2003, and the program has been ongoing since that time. The setting has changed from time-to-time, too: Chattanooga, Atlanta, and Nashville have hosted the conference and there may be opportunity to be in New Orleans in 2016.

P1011129Which leads me back to my original questions: if you are interested, you cannot go wrong. New Orleans or Birmingham, the Rickwood Classic or just a visit to the grand old ballpark in Birmingham. If you get your chance, take it in.

You can always ride with me.

 © 2015 by Skip Nipper. All Rights Reserved.

Leave a comment

Filed under Current, History, Negro League, Research, Vintage

Southern Association Baseball Books

The Southern Association Conference was born in Birmingham 11 years ago, the brainchild of Friends of Rickwood board members David Brewer (who also serves as executive director) and Clarence “Skip” Watkins. The early conferences were held at Rickwood Field, the oldest ballpark in existence that continues to host baseball games.

From the beginnings of these “reunion” conferences came an author who did not know he could become an author: me.

Presentations about the teams, players and managers of cities represented in the league were the sparks that brought about book publications. In my case, I was encouraged by Derby Gisclair from New Orleans. He authored Baseball in New Orleans and advised me to contact Arcadia Publishing which was producing an “Images of Baseball” series.

The 11th annual Southern Association conference will be held in Atlanta, Georgia on Saturday, March 1st. You are encouraged to attend! More detail is forthcoming; be looking for updates here and at http://www.rickwood.com.

Should you be interested in learning more about baseball in the south, particularly in the league known as the Southern Association (1901-1961), these are the books published about the history of the cherished league. Click on each one and learn about the author and read a summary of baseball in that city.  You can also order directly from Arcadia by following the link:

Atlanta

6686BASEcvr.indd

Chattanooga

Little Rock

Mobile

Nashville

New Orleans

 

1 Comment

Filed under History, Research

11th Annual Southern Association Conference in Atlanta

Ten years ago I was invited to attend a new baseball conference that was being organized in Birmingham, Alabama. It became the first annual Southern Association Conference, and subsequent conferences have been attended by people from across the nation who are interested in the history of the league.

Past presentations have been presented on the Atlanta Crackers, Birminghams Barons, Mobile Bears, Shreveport Sports, Knoxville Smokies, New Orleans Pelicans, Chattanooga Lookouts, Little Rock Travelers, and Nashville Vols. Many friendships have been formed and continue to this day.

Earlier this week the announcement was released about the 2014 conference. Consider adding the date to your calendar:

SA_Conference

The Southern Association was the heart of professional baseball in the South until major league expansions in the 1960’s, and the conferences focus on the stadiums, the teams, and players, and the historical significance of the game of baseball in the South.

Most of the annual Southern Association Conferences have been held at historic Rickwood Field in Birmingham, but we have also met in Chattanooga and Nashville. This is the first year that we will visit Atlanta, the home of the Atlanta Crackers, the late Earl Mann, and Ponce De Leon Park.

We want the Eleventh Annual Conference to deal mainly with Atlanta’s long and memorable tenure in the Southern Association, but we will also consider other topics related to baseball in Atlanta and the South.

Call for Presentations

Presentations should be 20 to 30 minutes in length. We encourage PowerPoint presentations, but it is not essential. It is likely that you will be addressing a group of 50 people, so visual aids in some fashion will enhance your presentation. Please refrain from quoting large quantities of statistics, which tend to clutter and confuse.

Please send a short synopsis of your presentation to David Brewer for our consideration. david@rickwood.com. We would like to receive your proposals by January 8, 2014. We shall respond to your proposal as soon as possible, and certainly by January 22, 2014, so that you will have ample time to prepare your presentation.

We will select 6 presentations and 2 alternates. If selected you will be asked to provide a couple of images pertaining to your presentation for our conference program. We will also need a brief bio on you.

We are also seeking several vintage memorabilia collectors to display artifacts related to the Atlanta Crackers. Displays of old bats and gloves endorsed by former Cracker players, programs, scrapbooks, uniforms, and pennants greatly enhance the atmosphere of the conference.

We are looking forward to a great conference in Atlanta. Additional details about the venue, cost, and lodging for out-of-town guests will be announced soon. If you have any questions or would like additional information to assist with your proposal, please contact David Brewer directly (david@rickwood.com or 205-458-8161).

Thank you.

Clarence Watkins and David Brewer

Clarence Watkins is author of “Baseball in Birmingham” and “Baseball in Memphis” (Arcadia Publishing) and is an expert on the history of the baseball in those cities.  David Brewer is executive director of the Friends of Rickwood (www.rickwood.com) which preserves and maintains Rickwood Field, one of the oldest ballparks still in existence.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized