Watch CBS News

Cards edge Giants at Rickwood Field in game honoring Willie Mays

Game at Rickwood Field honors Willie Mays and Negro Leagues
Game at Rickwood Field honors Willie Mays and Negro Leagues 03:20

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Brendan Donovan hit a two-run homer and a double and the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the San Francisco Giants 6-5 in the Negro Leagues tribute game at Rickwood Field on Thursday night.

The 114-year-old Rickwood Field is the oldest professional ballpark in the U.S. and former home to baseball Hall of Famer Willie Mays and the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro Leagues.

The first MLB game played at the ballpark was meant to honor Mays and many other Negro Leaguers, and it took on a more sentimental meaning when Mays, the electrifying center fielder who left an enduring mark on baseball, died Tuesday.

Tributes to Mays continued throughout the week in Birmingham, including a ceremony before Thursday's game.

Plenty of other Negro Leagues greats were honored, including former Black Barons player Bill Greason, who threw out the ceremonial first pitch. The game also featured the first all-Black umpire crew in AL/NL history.

Donovan, who grew up in Alabama, blasted a 1-1 pitch from Giants starter Keaton Winn (3-8) for his seventh home run of the season. He was 3 for 3 with a double in the third inning and an RBI single in the sixth.

Rickwood Field
Wide view of Rickwood Field during pregame ceremony prior to the game between the Giants and the Cardinals on June 20, 2024 in Birmingham, Alabama.  Daniel Shirey via Getty Images

"What a special night," Donovan said. "I mean, this is something that we should celebrate. This right here is pretty amazing. And to do it in Alabama, I've got some friends and family in the stands, it's like playing summer ball again."

Alec Burleson had a pair of singles and Masyn Winn reached twice for the Cardinals (37-37), who stopped a two-game losing streak.

Andre Pallante (3-3) pitched 5 1/3 innings in the win, allowing seven hits and three runs. He walked three and struck out five.

San Francisco's Heliot Ramos hit a tying three-run shot off Pallante in the third for his 10th home run, but the Cardinals retook the lead on Nolan Gorman's sacrifice fly in the bottom of the inning.

Winn struggled through 2 2/3 innings, allowing five hits and five runs with two strikeouts and a walk. He was replaced in the third by Randy Rodríguez, who gave up a run on a wild pitch against his first batter.

Patrick Bailey had three hits for the Giants, who closed a three-run hole with a two-run sixth. Matt Chapman led off the inning with a double, then came around to score on Wilmer Flores' line drive to center. Jorge Soler then scored on Nick Ahmed's sacrifice fly.

Ryan Helsley got three outs for his 24th save.

Both teams wore throwback uniforms with Mays' No. 24 on them. Over 23 major league seasons, mostly with the New York/San Francisco Giants but including one in the Negro Leagues, Mays batted .301, hit 660 home runs, totaled 3,293 hits, scored more than 2,000 runs. He was Rookie of the Year in 1951 and a two-time MVP.


Giants: Recalled SS Tyler Fitzgerald from Triple-A Sacramento as an extra player for the Rickwood game. ... RF Mike Yastrzemski left with a tight left side.

Cardinals: 3B Nolan Arenado did not play after leaving Tuesday's game against the Marlins after being hit in the right elbow by a fastball thrown by reliever Huascar Brazoban.


RHP Jordan Hicks (4-3, 2.82 ERA) will start for the Giants when the series continues Saturday in St. Louis. Miles Mikolas (5-6, 4.59) will start for the Cardinals.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.