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Road to Rickwood: Don't Fight Back

The 1964 Birmingham Barons, the first professional integrated sports team in Alabama.
Source: Birmingham's Pro Sports
The 1964 Birmingham Barons, the first professional integrated sports team in Alabama.

In 1964, the Birmingham Barons become Alabama’s first integrated sports team. This is 17 years after Jackie Robinson integrated the Major Leagues. What took so long?

Today, we hear how baseball helps desegregate America’s most segregated city. Roy Wood Jr. takes us back to 1960s Birmingham, when nonviolent protests for racial equality are met with bombings by the Ku Klux Klan. We learn about the business owner who decides to bring baseball back to Birmingham after a two-year hiatus, this time in an integrated environment. And we hear from some of the players on the city’s first integrated team about their experiences on field, in the community and on the buses traveling throughout the Deep South.

This episode was written and produced by Alana Schreiber and hosted by Roy Wood Jr.Our executive producer is Alana Schreiber and our senior producer is Ben Dickstein.  Our producers are Jonah Buchanan and’s Cody D. Short. Mixing and sound design by Joaquin Cotler and story editing by Ryan Vasquez. Artwork by Xavier Murillo. Original music composition by Squeak E. Clean Studios. Voice tracking by Alt Mix Studio.

Special thanks to Paul Maassen, The Friends of Rickwood Field, Birmingham Public Library archives, and WBHM. 

For more stories on Rickwood Field, check out

This podcast is produced by WWNO and WRKF. Distributed by the NPR network. Support from Major League Baseball, The Corporation for Public Broadcasting and Explore St. Louis.

Alana Schreiber is the managing producer for the live daily news program, Louisiana Considered. She comes to WRKF from KUNC in Northern Colorado, where she worked as a radio producer for the daily news magazine, Colorado Edition. She has previously interned for Minnesota Public Radio in St. Paul and The Documentary Group in New York City.