Some details on one of the best annual events in all of baseball: Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers will be the guest of honor for the 21st Annual Rickwood Classic, set for Wednesday, June 1 at 12:30 p.m. at Birmingham’s historic Rickwood Field.
Fingers is a Cy Young Award winner and former Birmingham A’s pitcher during the Charlie O. Finley era. He will be the special guest of honor and available for autographs during the game, which features the defending Southern League Champion Chattanooga Lookouts taking on host Birmingham Barons.
This will be the fifth appearance for the Lookouts, having previously played in the 1997, 2002, 2011 and most recently the 2012 contest. The game will mark the first appearance by a Minnesota Twins affiliate in the Rickwood Classic. In the 20-year history of the Rickwood Classic the Barons are 9-11 overall, including a win in the very first game in 1996, defeating the Memphis Chicks by a score of 3-2.
This year’s classic will celebrate Baseball Hall of Famers, especially those that have donned the Birmingham Barons, Black Barons or A’s uniforms. Harold “Pie” Traynor (1948), Burleigh Grimes (1964), Rube Marquard (1971) and Frank Thomas (2013) are Baseball Hall of Famers who wore the Barons uniform. The legendary Rollie Fingers (1992) and “Mr. October” Reggie Jackson (1993) were both members of the Birmingham A’s before embarking on their Hall of Fame careers. Leroy “Satchel” Paige (1971), Willie Mays (1979), George “Mule” Shuttles (1996), Bill Foster (1996) and Willie Wells (1997) are former Black Barons that are enshrined in Cooperstown.
Rickwood Field has also seen numerous Hall of Famers play for opposing teams or as part of barnstorming exhibition games. A record 110 Baseball Hall of Famers have stepped foot on the diamond at Rickwood Field. These names include: Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Roberto Clemente, Mickey Mantle Christy Mathewson, Honus Wagner, Hank Aaron, Rogers Hornsby, Yogi Berra, Dizzy Dean, Joe DiMaggio and more.
The Barons will don the uniforms worn by the 1967 Birmingham A’s featuring the iconic A’s script on the left side of the jersey which will be white with green sleeves and green numbers on the front right and back of the uniform. The team will also wear special green caps with the white old English “B” on it.
“We are excited to celebrate the 21st installment of the Rickwood Classic by honoring Baseball Hall of Famers,” said Barons General Manager Jonathan Nelson. “The Rickwood Classic is a very special event in the Birmingham community and over the years has been recognized nationally as a must-attend baseball game. Along with the Friends of Rickwood and Levy’s Fine Jewelry we are looking forward to providing another fun and memorable afternoon at America’s oldest ballpark.”
“The Friends of Rickwood are looking forward to this year’s Classic, and to honoring the rich history of the ballpark. The impressive number of Hall of Fame members who have graced the field is highlighted by those legendary athletes who have played for the home team – the Barons, the Black Barons, and the A’,” said Friends of Rickwood Director David Brewer. “Celebrating the accomplishments of these iconic individuals confirms further Rickwood’s role in both baseball and community history. It is also an honor to welcome back to Birmingham, Rollie Fingers, Hall of Fame member and Rickwood alum. The Friends of Rickwood also appreciates greatly our partnership with the Birmingham Barons, Levy’s Fine Jewelry and the City of Birmingham, and we look forward to seeing everyone at the ballpark on June 1.”
Fingers, a three-time World Series champion, enjoyed a 17-year Major League career highlighted by his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1992, becoming just the second relief pitcher to receive the honor. He was a seven time All-Star including four-straight appearances from 1973-’76. Fingers took home Relief Pitcher of the Year, the Cy Young Award and the American League MVP award during the 1981 season while pitching with the Milwaukee Brewers. Fingers spent parts of two seasons pitching for the Birmingham A’s during the 1967 and 1968 seasons, helping lead the Barons to the Southern League Championship in 1967. He went a combined 16-9 in 36 appearances including 31 starts and was inducted into the Barons Hall of Fame during the 2008 season and the Southern League Hall of Fame in 2015.