Photo Courtesy of Memphis Redbirds / Blues / Chicks Official Scorer:
J.J. Guinozzo (Guinozzo Centre Baseball Research)
Between 1901 and 1960, the United States faced unrest, depressions, 2 wars and the economic downturn of baseball in the mid-1950s, (mostly due to television) that nearly wiped out every baseball team in America. Through it all… from 1901 until 1960, there was a loyal partnership between Russwood Park and the Southern Association that continued to play un-interrupted through the good and in the bad. The Southern Association itself lasted until 1961 when it finally fell prey to dwindling numbers of Minor League teams and systems. The S.A. was considered a Class A1 or AA during its time, which today would put them in the Double-A category today. After the Southern Association folded, New Orleans, Nashville and Memphis, would go on to become Triple-A teams. Atlanta became Major League. Birmingham, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Little Rock, Mobile, Montgomery and Shreveport meanwhile, became Double-A franchises. The Memphis team would change their moniker a few times during this period, but they never broke for a single year from the Southern Association… even when almost every other league in America suspended operations due to WWI and WWII (The league would cut the 1918 season short, but still play nearly 80 games). Russwood Park stayed open and continued to host professional baseball. This loyal relationship between the two would finally come to an end… a year before the Southern Association would collapse due to the largest fire that Memphis had ever seen. There was nothing left of the ballpark and the origin of the inferno was never discovered.