Painting of the site of the first Alabama Auburn game in Birmingham, Alabama.
Painting: "Site of the First Alabama - Auburn Game" by Miriam McClung. Oil on linen. Sold

Part 4: A Brief History of Birmingham, Alabama through Art – Sports

If you know anything about the history of Birmingham, you’ll understand the significance of this oil on linen painting of Miriam’s.

Sports played a major role in the South after Reconstruction, and Birmingham in particular, establishing its cultural identity and sense of community after a civil war. Baseball was particularly influential with the forming of the Barons in 1885 (originally known as the Coal Barons), Black Barons in 1920, and Rickwood Field in 1910 (the oldest professional baseball park in the United States).

While baseball reigned supreme in Southern culture until the 1950s, a new sport was gaining popularity in the late 1800s–American football. Two state university teams, Alabama and Auburn, would meet at Lakeview Baseball Park in Birmingham for the first time in 1893 (Auburn won) to start a rivalry that defines and divides team loyalties of friends and families to this day.

Miriam would eventually study art at the University of Alabama during the years when their team hardly won a game. Still a devoted fan of Crimson Tide football, she watches them every Saturday.

“Lakeview Park – Site of the first Alabama-Auburn Game” by Miriam McClung. Oil on linen. Framed. Private collector.

There is also a pastel of this scene but we’ve not yet located it!


Miriam McClung is an artist from Birmingham, Alabama, and has been creating works of art in oils, pastels, ink, charcoal, pencil and everything in between for over 70 years. You can follow her on her Instagram account @miriammcclungart.