- The Birmingham Barons and Friends of Rickwood announced Wednesday the details of the 13th Annual Rickwood Classic Presented by State Farm Insurance. The team will host the Jacksonville Suns on Wednesday, May 28, at 12:35 pm at America's Oldest Ballpark. Former Baron Jimmy Piersall, an outfielder on the 1951-52 teams and 17-year Major Leaguer, will be in attendance at the game. The first 1,500 fans through the gate will receive a vintage portrait of Piersall from the 1952 season.
The team has traveled back to Rickwood annually since 1996, and as in past years, they will pay tribute to a team in Barons history. This season, the squad will honor the 1951-52 teams that were affiliated with the Boston Red Sox. The uniforms will be gray with "Birmingham" written across the chest in blue script, and the hats will feature the red and black Boston Red Sox "B". The Jacksonville Suns will wear their uniforms from the 1967 team that featured Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan.
"We are excited about the 13th Annual Rickwood Classic and celebrating the 1951 and 1952 Barons teams that were affiliated with the Boston Red Sox," Barons General Manager Jonathan Nelson said. "The Rickwood Classic is a very special event in the Birmingham community and over the years it has been nationally recognized as a must-attend baseball game. Along with the Friends of Rickwood and State Farm Insurance we are looking forward to providing another fun and memorable afternoon at America's oldest ballpark," he continued.
"The Friends of Rickwood are extremely excited about this year's Rickwood Classic, and look forward to paying tribute to the early 1950's years of affilliation with the Boston Red Sox organization, another chapter in Rickwood's storied history," said David Brewer, director of the Friends of Rickwood. "Birmingham fans fondly remember Jimmy Peirsall's tenure here, and we are very pleased to have him returning to the ballpark for this year's Classic."
Piersall, who spent two years with the Barons, compiled a .272 average in 17 Major League seasons, eight of which were with the Red Sox. He won two Gold Gloves, was a two-time All-Star (1954 and 1956), and received votes in five different American League MVP races, including 1956 when he led the league with 40 doubles and 155 games played. After a six-game debut in Boston as a rookie in 1950, he was assigned to Birmingham the following season and led the team with a .346 average, 30 doubles, and 12 triples. He also tied George Wilson with a team-high 100 runs scored.
State Farm Insurance will once again be the title sponsor of the Rickwood Classic.
"State Farm values our continuing sponsorship with the Rickwood Classic," said State Farm Marketing Analyst Cathy Warren. "Rickwood is a rich part of Birmingham's past, present and future cultural heritage, and State Farm is proud to be associated with such a positive community event. We are known as 'Good Neighbors,' and we trust that our support of the Rickwood Classic and its unique baseball traditions will help demonstrate that commitment to the people of Birmingham," she added.
The Rickwood Classic has annually been one of the most popular events for baseball fans both in Alabama and across the country. It was listed fifth on the list of top events in 2008 by the Alabama Tourism Department, and last summer was named one of the "101 Things All Sports Fans Must Experience Before They Die" in a column written by ESPN.com's Jim Caple. The Barons hold a 7-5 record in the Rickwood Classic and have won the contest each of the last two years.
The Barons' regular season schedule will commence on Thursday, April 3rd, when the team welcomes the Tennessee Smokies, Class AA affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, to Regions Park in a battle between the Southern League affiliates of Chicago's two Major League franchises. Game time is set for 7:05 pm.
For schedule and ticket information, please call 205-988-3200, or visit www.barons.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.