Birmingham City Council approves emergency repairs for Rickwood Field
By Cody Owens
Some much needed repairs will soon be coming to Rickwood Field, the oldest professional baseball park in the country — it served as the home of the Birmingham Barons from 1910 to 1987.
On Tuesday, the Birmingham City Council accepted a lump sum bid from JJ Morley Enterprises Inc. to the tune of $1,006,400 for emergency repairs on the facility.
“These repairs have been needed for some time now and I wanted to commend the mayor’s office and his staff for bringing this forward,” Councilor Steven Hoyt said. “Rickwood Field is a historic park and we want to preserve it. We want it to continue to be a highlight in our city and particularly District 8.”
The field is one of two remaining Negro League baseball parks — Willie Mays once called the field home and led the Birmingham Black Barons to the 1948 Negro American League championship.
Andre Bittas, director of the Planning, Engineering and Permits Department, said he expects the repairs to be completed in time for the Rickwood Classic, which typically takes place toward the end of May each year.
Last year, due to structural issues that posed a hazard to public safety, the Rickwood Classic was moved to Regions Field. Members of the council agreed that maintaining historic assets like Rickwood Field is imperative so that future generations can appreciate the rich history that played out in the Magic City.
Krispy Krunchy Chicken
In keeping with fostering community development, Councilor John Hilliard invited Amin Poonawalla to speak at Tuesday’s meeting about his newly opened fried chicken restaurant in Ensley, Krispy Krunchy Chicken.
“I’ve been part of this outstanding community for over 15 years now. I’m a business owner and more importantly I’m active member of the community. I’m humbled to stand before you today,” said Poonawalla, who has owned the gas station across the street from the restaurant for the last 12 years. He and his brother said they immigrated to the United States with only a couple hundred dollars to their name.
“I’m driven to help reinforce the bonds of a diverse, strong community,” Poonawalla continued. “It’s deeply rooted in my ethic of self-reliance. There is a saying, ‘You give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. You teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime.’ In this new endeavor I hope to provide my fellow citizens the means to be self-reliant.”
Hilliard thanked the Poonawalla brothers for their commitment to the community. “We all push for economic development in the area and to see them open up next to Marino’s Market is just great to see,” Hilliard said.
MLK Day 5k Drum Run
One of Birmingham’s own, Herman Mannings III, who is the founder of Leftover Energy LLC, took some time on Tuesday to discuss the upcoming MLK Day 5k Drum Run that will take place this coming Saturday, Jan. 13.
“I’m a Parker High School graduate,” said Mannings, who now lives in Atlanta. “I’m here to give back to my community. The MLK Day 5k Drum Run is a way for us to inspire through fitness and fellowship. When I was younger, I grew up in the St. Joseph Baptist Church. Rev. Abraham Woods inspired in us a sense of culture and pride. As we got older they asked us to always come back and give what we can to the community.”
The “Drum Run” began last year, and has already seen a significant increase in the number of youth participants. The race goes through all the major downtown districts, Mannings said. It begins at Kelly Ingram Park, in the Civil Rights District.
“The drum lines for area high schools will keep the beat as runners and walkers go through the course,” Mannings said, thanking Council President Pro Tem Jay Roberson and the 100 Days of Nonviolence for their sustained support. “The weather looks great for Saturday and I invite all the council and everyone to come out.”
The race begins at 7 a.m. on Saturday and the deadline to register is Jan. 10 on the event’s website (https://www.mlkday5kbham.com/).
“I’m going to be there, but I’m going to watch,” Roberson said, eliciting a few chuckles from the audience. “I do have a job as the emcee for the event, so that counts as my physical activity for the day. I appreciate you Mr. Manning for giving back and holding this important event.”