BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — The Fultondale High School baseball team lost their home field before the season in a deadly EF-3 tornado that ravaged their town.
Since then, the community has shown support to the team by offering the chance to play in incredible venues like Regions Field and on Friday, the country’s oldest baseball field, Rickwood Field.
“We got a lot of kids right here, they drive past the storm damage every day,” Head Coach of the Fultondale Wildcat baseball team, Michael Franklin, said.
The 2021 Fultondale High School Baseball team has seen more tragedy than most.
“One of our athletes on the team, all the houses in his neighborhood were destroyed except for his,” Franklin said.
Even losing the field they called home.
“It was part of us, basically. It was just tough to lose it,” Caleb Davis, a junior on the team, said.
But the community quickly came to support them. So much support that they were offered the opportunity to open their season at Region’s Field against the Ramsay Rams.
“They still talk about it,” Franklin said. “Even though we lost that day, we didn’t play very well. Just a lot of memories made there.”
The memories from this season won’t stop with their game at Regions Field. Friday, the team lost in a rematch, at the country’s oldest professional baseball field, Rickwood Field.
“To get to play baseball there, against the team, they beat us at Regions – all of us, we’ve been waiting on this game,” Davis said. “We’ve been playing good. We’re trying to get our rematch in.”
The Wildcats had been on a hot streak going into the game, too, winning their prior four games. But wins and losses aside, the gentlemen from Fultondale just feel grateful for the opportunities.
“It felt like someone was there for us,” Hunter Vickery, a junior on the team said. “We had a community to stand behind our back.”
“Especially playing at Regions, this is an opportunity a lot of kids in high school don’t ever get,” Davis said. “For it to happen to us, especially after everything that’s happened, we’re just blessed.”
Knowing the season would be a unique one following the EF-3 tornado that destroyed their home field, they adopted the motto, “home is where the heart is.”
The Fultondale Wildcats are just appreciative they get to play the game they love.