The Birmingham Barons have announced a four-man class of inductees for the 2014 Barons Hall of Fame. Joining a 34-man group that includes baseball legends Willie Mays, Reggie Jackson, Rollie Fingers and Frank Thomas will be former Barons outfielder Mike Cameron, pitcher Joe Grzenda, manager Johnny Dobbs and longtime broadcaster Gabby Bell.
"The Barons are proud to induct another stellar class into the Barons Hall of Fame", said Barons General Manager Jonathan Nelson. "All four men are well deserving of the honor, having performed at the highest level in their chosen professions while showing great character and reputation in contributing to the success and promotion of professional baseball in Birmingham."
Mike Cameron played for the Barons during portions of the 1995 and 1996 seasons. In a stellar 1996 campaign, Cameron hit .300 (142-for-473) with 28 home runs, 34 doubles, 12 triples, 77 RBI, 39 stolen bases and a team record 120 runs scored in 123 games. After the season, he was named a First Team Minor League All-Star Outfielder by Baseball America and the Chicago White Sox named him their Minor League Player of the year. Cameron retired from baseball following the 2011 season, capping a 17-year career that saw him win three Gold Glove Awards and play in the 2001 All-Star game. Cameron is one of just 16 players in Major League Baseball history to hit four home runs in one game, accomplishing the feat on May 2nd, 2002 as a member of the Seattle Mariners.
Johnny Dobbs managed the Barons from 1925-1929, posting a record of 437-323 with three consecutive 90+ win seasons from 1927-29. That stretch included a franchise-record 99 wins in 1928 and back-to-back championships in 1928-29. After falling in their first Dixie Series appearance to Houston in 1928, Dobbs and the Barons capped off the 1929 season with a Dixie Series victory against Dallas. Dobbs is one of just two managers in franchise history to win multiple league titles joining fellow Barons Hall of Famer Carlton Molesworth.
Joe Grzenda pitched for the Barons during five separate seasons, starting with a 17-7 record for the 1958 championship winners. He bookended his Barons career with championships, going 5-0 with a 1.20 ERA in 52 relief appearances for the Barons was during the championship year of 1967, his last with the club. He finished his Barons career with a record of 31-15 and a 3.29 ERA over 126 appearances including 53 starts. His career spanned 18 years with several stops in the majors for eight different teams. He owned a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage over eight major league seasons and pitched in 219 MLB games, all but three coming in relief. He also threw the last pitch for the Washington Senators at RFK Stadium in 1971. Brought in by manager Ted Williams to hold a 9-7 lead over the New York Yankees, Grzenda got the first two outs before fans rushed the field and the game was forfeited to the Yankees. The last out was never made.
Forever known as the 'Voice of the Birmingham Barons', Gabby Bell was the team's play-by-play broadcaster during the Southern Association glory years, starting in 1948 and spanning into the late 1950s. He helped form a 38-station network in four states for Barons broadcasts and later worked in television in Kentucky and South Florida after leaving Birmingham in 1960. His booming golden tones brought Barons games to fans throughout the southeast and provided the backdrop for Barons baseball during one of the sport's iconic eras.
The inductees will be honored during the 2014 Rickwood Classic on June 25th as the Barons take on the Mississippi Braves at Rickwood Field. This year's classic will celebrate the decade of the 'Roaring Twenties'. Since it's inception in 2005, the Barons Hall of Fame has inducted 38 members. The 2013 Hall of Fame class featured former Barons shortstop Bert Campaneris, Jimmy Piersall, Ben Cook and Curt Bloom.
The Barons Hall of Fame is in it's 10th year of existance, having inducted the first class in 2005. To learn more, visit the Barons Hall of Fame webpage by clicking here.