Major League Baseball hit a home run with their Rickwood Field game and broadcast

What a magical night at Rickwood Field.
St. Louis Cardinals v San Francisco Giants
St. Louis Cardinals v San Francisco Giants / Casey Sykes/GettyImages

Very few things that carry the magnitude of Major League Baseball's Rickwood Field game ever meet expectations, let alone exceed them.

MLB's celebration of the Negro Leagues and the life of Willie Mays was an absolute home run event, one that will be remembered by the baseball community for a long, long time.

It's honestly difficult to put into words how special this evening was as the St. Louis Cardinals took on the San Francisco Giants at the historic Rickwood Field, the oldest professional baseball stadium in the United States and the home of the Negro League's Birmingham Black Barons from 1920-1963.

Here are some of the major highlights that will stick with me from tonight's celebration.

Honoring the late Willie Mays

On Tuesday afternoon, baseball legend Willie Mays passed away at the age of 93, just days before this historic celebration to honor Mays and the countless players who made history in the Negro Leagues and the ones who finally got a shot to play in the Major Leagues.

It was heartbreaking to not have Mays as a part of the celebration physically, but in so many ways, the spirit of Mays was all over the place on Thursday evening.

Honoring the legends of the Negro Leagues

The whole point of the game and its festivities was to celebrate the Negro Leagues, an era of baseball that so many people are unfamiliar with. Before the game, various Negro League alumni joined the Cardinals and Giants on the field for the pregame ceremonies, and it was truly a special moment to see these men honored for their contributions to this game and this country.

The great Bill Greason

Rev. Bill Greason, a former Birmingham Black Baron and St. Louis Cardinal, threw out the first pitch during the game at age 99.

Greason is the oldest living Negro League player, and he has followed up his baseball career as the minister of Bethel Baptist Church. Greason served our country in World War II as a part of the Marines, fighting in Battle of Iwo Jima, and even grew up across the street from Martin Luther King Jr. They had a short interview with him mid-game and it is well worth your time to go back and listen to it.

The vintage broadcast and uniforms

Not only did the Cardinals and Giants pay homage to the St. Louis Stars and San Francisco Sea Lions, two historical Negro League teams, by wearing classic uniforms during the game, but the FOX broadcast took us back in time during the top of the 5th inning by changing the video color, quality, and even camera angles to reflect what it would have felt like watching a televised baseball game back in the 1950s.

The infectious love for the game from Bob Kendrick

If you caught the final few innings of the game, you would have heard some of the most lively, infectous commentary on the Negro Leagues and pure love for the game from the President of Nedgro Leagues Baseball Museum, Bob Kedrick.

Kendrick stole the show once he entered the booth, and multiple times they had to try and contain his enthusiasm to the audience's dismay for a comerical break. But every time the broadcast flickered back on, the let Kendrick's baseball knowledge and passion flow in a way that inspired viewers and captured our imagination about the great history of the Negro Leagues.

And of course, a Cardinals win

What made the night's festivities extra special is that it centered around a baseball game. Baseball in so many ways has been able to unite our country in various seasons, and it was so cool to be able to honor these legends of the game while watching the game they helped steward and make what it is today.

The Cardinals beat the Giants 6-5 in large part due to the performance of Brendan Donovan, who grew up in the state of Alabama and went 3-4 with a home run, double, and 3 RBI on the day.

It was truly a magical night of baseball. Well done.