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Barons announce 2009 Rickwood Classic

The Birmingham Barons announced the details for the 14th annual Rickwood Classic, which will be held at historic Rickwood Field on Wednesday, May 27.The Birmingham Barons (Class AA; Southern League) announced Thursday the details for the 14th annual Rickwood Classic, which will be held at historic Rickwood Field on Wednesday, May 27. The Barons will take on the Southern League defending champion and division rival Mississippi Braves, and the event will once again be sponsored by State Farm.

As always, there will be a historical theme for this “turn back the clock” event, and the two teams will be paying homage to the 1982 season. That year, the Atlanta Braves traveled to Birmingham to play a mid-summer exhibition against the Southern League All-Stars, and that season was the last time prior to this one that Birmingham hosted the league’s annual All-Star event. The first 1,500 fans through the turnstiles will receive a commemorative “big ticket” that replicates the ducats sold for the 1982 exhibition. The Barons will host the 2009 Southern League All-Star Game at Regions Park in July, and a Home Run Derby and Celebrity Softball game will be played the day before at Rickwood.

“Turning back the clock each year to play our annual Rickwood Classic continues to be a special event for Barons and baseball fans alike,” said Barons General Manager Jonathan Nelson. “It is appropriate in 2009 that we celebrate the 1982 Southern League All-Star Game that featured the Atlanta Braves playing Southern League All-Stars at Rickwood Field.”

The M-Braves will feature the powder blue uniforms worn by Atlanta in the early ‘80s, and the Barons will sport the uniforms worn by their team during part of that decade, which were primarily white with red and black trim.

“With the Barons having frequently hosted Southern Association and Southern League All-Star games at Rickwood Field, this year’s All-Star Game tribute will honor an important chapter in Rickwood’s history and is a perfect fit with the 2009 Southern League All-Star festivities," David Brewer, the Executive Director of Friends of Rickwood, said.

This year’s Rickwood Classic will be the first appearance in the event for Mississippi, though the organization, then located in Greenville, S.C., bested the Barons 12-8 in the 3rd annual Classic in 1998. Birmingham holds a 7-6 record in the event, which has taken place annually since 1996 and is recognized nationally as one of the premiere baseball events.

ADDENDUM: Much of the above information was suppled by the Barons. Bill Lee, the current commissioner of the Frontier League who spent time in the front offices of Chattanooga, points out the Barons also hosted the 1985 All-Star Game against the Houston Astros. The most notable thing about that matchup: Jose Canseco put on a show during batting practice that baseball people still talk about.