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Rickwood Classic will mark milestone11/18/2009 5:43 PM ET
HOOVER, Ala. -- The Birmingham Barons will do their part to celebrate the 100th anniversary of historic Rickwood Field when the team returns to their old stomping grounds for the 15th Annual Rickwood Classic on June 2. The 12:30 p.m. contest will pit the Barons (Chicago AL, Double-A) opposite the Tennessee Smokies (Chicago NL, Double-A). State Farm once will again sponsor the event.
The two franchises will use the occasion to pay homage to the early years of Rickwood Field. The $75,000, 7,000-seat facility opened on Aug. 18, 1910, when the Barons took on the Montgomery Climbers in a game witnessed by an estimated 10,000 fans. The Barons took the stadium opener with a come-from-behind 3-2 victory after scoring twice in the ninth inning. The Barons would continue their winning ways at Rickwood Field, winning nine league championships, including a title in the stadium's final season in 1987.
"It is always a wonderful experience to be able to play a game at a ballpark with the rich history of Rickwood Field," Barons general manager Jonathan Nelson said. "It is appropriate that we celebrate the 1910 season in this, the 100th anniversary of Rickwood Field's opening."
The Barons will wear replicas of uniforms from the 1910 season while the Smokies will wear uniforms from the 1914 season, when they were known as the Appalachian Smokies. This will mark the second appearance for the Smokies in the Classic. The Barons defeated the Cubs' affiliate 3-2 in the 13th Annual Rickwood Classic in 2006. The Barons hold a 7-7 record in the event that has taken place since 1996. In 2009, the event was named the most desirable Minor League Baseball game to attend in a poll on MiLB.com.
"In the decades following Rickwood's Aug. 18, 1910 inaugural opening, the park hosted some of baseball's greats, firmly establishing its place in American culture," said David Brewer, director of the Friends of Rickwood said. "The Friends organization is proud to serve as steward of Rickwood Field and is very excited about celebrating the park's Centennial at the 2010 Rickwood Classic."
"The Rickwood Classic is very unique to Birmingham and to baseball. It's one of the very few places where a family can experience history and have a great family outing, which is why State Farm is very happy to support it," added State Farm marketing analyst Cathy Warren.