Fultondale, Ala. (WIAT) – Robert Vickers, one of the last living Birmingham Black Barons, is still looking for his baseball suitcase from his playing days. It was lost in January during the EF-3 tornado, which severely damaged his home.
Vickers says what’s inside the suitcase is incredibly valuable: his first contract he signed as a player and his old Barons jersey. Vickers played in the Negro leagues from 1956-1974. He says one of the best parts of playing was traveling to places like Memphis, Tenn. or Kansas City, Mo.
“To travel all over the country on the bus,” Vickers said.
Vickers says he slept throughout the storm and woke up to the damage.
“The water was coming in on me and the house looked like a convertible it had taken the roof off,” Vickers said.
He says he was trapped inside and had no way out. But says faith played a big part as the fire crews were able to get him out of the home. Some of his possessions have been missing since, including his baseball suitcase.
“It’s an old metal suitcase that was given to me when I come out of high school and going off to play baseball,” Vickers said.
Vickers has had the suitcase since 1958. He still isn’t sure where it could be; however, he isn’t alone in looking for the suitcase. Vickers spoke to the Rotary Club of North Jefferson County on Wednesday about his baseball career and the suitcase.
“We were all sitting on our…up straight and right on our seats because he is such an interesting man!” Carol Stewart with the club said.
Stewart is the tornado relief coordinator for the club and says they have posted online about Vickers and are doing everything they can to get the word out. She says after meeting Vickers, she wants to do everything she can to help him.
“Because this is such a great part of history that this man really deserves to get it back and we want to find it,” Stewart said.
Vickers is thankful for their help and says the club doesn’t have to do this. Just like the old gentleman when he was younger didn’t have to give him the suitcase. He hopes he can find it soon.
“Oh, it would mean the world because it was a precious gift,” Vickers said.
Anyone who finds the case or wants to help Vickers out with rebuilding his home, call Carol Stewart with the Rotary Club at 205-540-5288.