The Birmingham Barons announced on Wednesday that Hall of Fame first baseman, Harmon Killebrew will be on hand when the organization celebrates the 100th anniversary of Rickwood Field with the Rickwood Classic Presented by State Farm on Wednesday, June 2, 2010.
"The Rickwood Classic is one of the truly special and unique events in all Minor League Baseball," Barons General Manager Jonathan Nelson said. "With this being the 100th celebration of Rickwood Field and with the inclusion of a legendary ballplayer such as Harmon Killebrew, this year's Rickwood Classic should be all that more special."
Killebrew spent 21 of his 22 big league seasons in the Washington Senators / Minnesota Twins organization before ending his playing career with the Kansas City Royals in 1975. The 1984 Hall of Fame selection hit 40-or-more home runs in eight separate seasons, and finished his career with 567 long balls. He hit .276 with a career-high 49 home runs and 140 RBI during his lone MVP season in 1969.
"With this year's Classic celebrating Rickwood's centennial, the participation of Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew is a natural fit, and it adds another element of excitement to the event," Friends of Rickwood Director, David Brewer said. "The Friends of Rickwood are very pleased to welcome Mr. Killebrew back to Rickwood Field."
Killebrew, who hit 29 home runs for the Southern Association's Chattanooga Lookouts in 1957, is a former roommate of Southern League President, Don Mincher. The pairing began during Spring Training in 1961 when Mincher joined the Minnesota Twins big league club, and the two have remained close since. The Southern League President recalls Killebrew's strong work ethic, citing that the former first baseman wasn't born a Hall of Famer, but instead made himself one through hard work and dedication.
"He's a great role model for today's Minor Leaguers," Mincher said. "The Barons are very fortunate to have him. I'm looking forward to having him there myself.
The Barons will host the Tennessee Smokies in the 15th Annual Rickwood Classic, which will begin at 12:30 PM at historic Rickwood Field. The home team will wear their uniforms from the 1910 season while the visitors will wear their 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 Double A 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.
Tickets to the Rickwood Classic are currently available on the web, over the phone or by visiting the Joe Drake Ticket Office at Regions Park.
The Barons will open the 2010 campaign at home against the Carolina Mudcats on Thursday, April 8. For season tickets or ticket plans for the Barons 2010 season, please visit Barons.Com or call (205) 988-3200.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.