One of baseball’s best traditions will make a comeback in 2018, as the Birmingham Barons (Class AA; Southern League) have announced plans for the 2018 Rickwood Classic.
Traditionally, the Barons play one regular-season game a year at Rickwood Field, the classic ballpark that opened in 1910. However, structural issues with the ballpark forced the 2017 edition of the game to be cancelled. With repairs to the ballpark reportedly on schedule, the Barons and Friends of Rickwood are announcing that the 2018 Rickwood Classic will take place on Wednesday, May 30, when the Barons host the Chattanooga Lookouts at 12:30 p.m.
The special guest for this year’s Classic will be former Southern Leaguer and World Series MVP, Bucky Dent. Dent was drafted by the Chicago White Sox as the sixth pick of the 1970 MLB draft, and played at Rickwood Field during his time with the White Sox organization. He was traded to the Yankees in 1977 and went on to become a 3-time All–Star and World Series Most Valuable Player in 1978. Dent is most widely known for this 3-run home run in the 1978 playoffs that cleared the towering “Green Monster” at Fenway Park to lead the Yankees to a 3-2 victory over the Red Sox.
“We are so excited to return to Rickwood Field in May for this iconic game,” said Barons President and GM Jonathan Nelson. “Fans travel from all over the nation for the Rickwood Classic, which is a testament to the city of Birmingham’s preservation of this historic ballpark. We’re so thankful for the Friends of Rickwood for allowing us to step back in time to celebrate America’s pastime.”
The Barons will pay homage to the “Fabulous Fifties” when the Birmingham team was affiliated with the New York Yankees from 1953 – 1956. The team will wear throwback grey uniforms and caps with text in the vintage Yankees navy blue script that will be auctioned off to benefit the Friends of Rickwood and their continuing efforts to preserve the ballpark. Bucky Dent will be available for autographs during the game with more details to come.
The Rickwood Classic was unfortunately cancelled last year due to structural repairs that needed to be made on the 108-year old ballpark. “The repairs are on schedule and Rickwood Field is looking better than ever,” said Friends of Rickwood Chairman Gerald Watkins. “We’re proud to once again open the doors to America’s oldest ballpark to highlight the rich history of baseball in Birmingham.”
Over 145,000 people have attended the Rickwood Classic since its debut in 1996. Over the years, the Classic has been covered by dozens of local and national media outlets including HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, ESPN, and MiLB.com. Rickwood Field opened its doors in 1910 and has been featured in multiple movies including Cobb, Soul of the Game, and 42.
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