Legends On Deck

On the Road: The Southern League Part II

Riverwalk Stadium July 4, 2022 – Photo courtesy of John Ginder

One of the main reasons I went on this trip was to explore all of the history Alabama has to offer.  Even though baseball is usually first on my mind, it had to take a backseat for what I was about to embark on during my visit to Montgomery, Alabama on July 4, 2022.

As an aspiring social studies teacher, I know that there is a difference between seeing photographs of certain historical events and physically being where the event happened.  Over the last several years, my family and I have toured around to many different places each with historical significance.  Being from the northeast most of what we have seen and visited was from the colonial period and affected us a certain way.  Montgomery hit me differently and hard.

Maybe it hit differently because most of events of the Civil Rights Movement occurred during my parents lifetime?  Maybe it was the fact that I was walking in the same footsteps as Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis, et al.  Whatever it was, it left me with so much to think about, so much to reflect upon, and so much to read up on.  I had so much on my agenda for the day and so much to see, with one place on my mind to start.  Selma and the Edmund Pettus Bridge.  The sight of the horrific brutality on Bloody Sunday, March 7, 1965.

It was important to me to not only see the bridge with my own eyes, but walk across it retracing the steps of the activists marching for voter rights.  As I arrived in Selma my heart started to beat faster.  My mind brought me to all of the photos from textbooks and videos I have seen over the years.  I parked my rental car out front of the Civil Rights Memorial Park on Route 80, and was met with heat and emotions.  I took a stroll through the park and then made my way to the bridge.  For as busy as Route 80 was when I got out of the car, everything seemed to stop as I walked across the bridge.  It was quiet.  Maybe it was the time of day or maybe it happened on purpose somehow.  Even though the heat index was around 105 degrees, I found myself with chills.  I stopped at the top of the bridge and took a moment to look around.  I looked at Selma itself, I looked at the clouds, I looked down at the Alabama River, and for a moment I just closed my eyes and inhaled and exhaled slowly.  Like I said before this area hit me differently.  This was not the only spot I visited this day that had the same affect on me.

I hopped back into the car and headed east for about 50 miles (along the same road the march from Selma to Montgomery took place) stopping to take a look at the historical markers along the way.  The next stop was Montgomery and The Court Square Fountain.

Being a federal holiday everything was closed when I arrived.  It was strange that there was no traffic, nobody walking in the streets, and it was as if I had the place to myself.  Once again I was able to walk in the same footsteps on Dexter Avenue heading up towards the State Capitol.  I spent plenty of time reading the signage and trying to soak it all in.  I can go on and on about everything I saw and felt that day but this is a baseball article so I should get to that.

When I booked my hotel in advance, not knowing the area, I chose to stay at the Staybridge Suites on Lee Street which was a hop skip and a jump to beautiful Riverwalk Stadium, the home of the Montgomery Biscuits.

My first reaction when I arrived was that it was a nice looking stadium from the outside with an old feel to it.  Unlike my visit to Chattanooga, I decided to buy an actual seat and not a general admission ticket.  I ended up on the third baseline a few rows back from the field.  It was a tremendous view and I would have enjoyed the game there but I had a hard time sitting still.  I did not want to miss out looking around.  My exploration around the park came in handy when a quick storm rolled in because I knew where I could go to stay dry.

One of the things I enjoyed the most was the ability to stand on the walkway in left field to watch the game.  The view from there was real good as long as you paid attention when the small passenger train rolled through taking a tour of the outfield and into the kid’s play section.  I should also note that another thing I liked about the stadium was the Club Car Bar.  Might have been because of the drinks or the fact that it had an amazing air conditioning system (like most places in Alabama).  The system was so powerful, that when it stopped raining they opened the doors and you could feel the cool from where I was standing at that point which was up against a light pole on the first base line.

As for the game.  Well the Biscuits jumped out to an early lead until the top of the fifth when the Biloxi Shuckers retained the lead 3-2 at that point.  It was short lived because Montgomery scored three in the bottom of the inning and never looked back, taking down Biloxi 7-4.  I have to admit that I left as soon as the last out was made and did not stay for the fireworks.  Once again it was a long hot day and I was ready for some rest.

Just like Chattanooga in Part I (Click Here), I loved Riverwalk Stadium and I suggest if you are in Montgomery you make it a point to visit.  Part III of this quick little series is my time spent in Birmingham and Regions Field as well as a beautiful self-guided tour of the historic Rickwood Field.

 

John Ginder
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