The Birmingham Barons (Class AA; Southern League) have announced details on the 2020 Rickwood Classic, set to be played at historic Rickwood Field on June 8.
The 24th Rickwood Classic will celebrate the legendary Birmingham Black Barons and the 100th Anniversary of the Negro Leagues. The game will feature the Birmingham Barons against the Chattanooga Lookouts, the Double-A Affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. Baseball Hall of Fame outfielder Andre “The Hawk” Dawson will be this year’s special guest of honor.
This will be the sixth appearance in the classic for the Lookouts who last played in the Rickwood Classic in 2018. In their last match-up at Rickwood Field, the Barons beat the Lookouts by a score of 7-1 in front of 6,028 fans. The Barons currently hold a 10-13 record in Rickwood Classic games, while fielding a 4-2 record against the Lookouts.
“We’re thrilled to turn back the clock and once again host the Rickwood Classic at America’s Oldest Ballpark on June 8th to celebrate the legendary Birmingham Black Barons and the Negro Leagues. Rickwood Field is such an important part of baseball history here in Birmingham and in hosting the classic it connects so many generations of Barons and baseball fans for one special, fun afternoon,” said Barons General Manager Jonathan Nelson. “The Barons and Friends of Rickwood are thrilled to welcome Hall of Famer Andre Dawson and thankful for Levy’s Fine Jewelry, Stewart Lubricants and Service Company, and Drummond Company, Inc. for their support and sponsorship of the Rickwood Classic.”
This year’s Rickwood Classic will celebrate the Birmingham Black Barons and the 100th Anniversary of the Negro Leagues (1920-1963). In 1920, the Birmingham Black Barons became a charter member of the eight-team Negro Southern League. During the 1920’s, Birmingham would see future Hall of Famers Leroy “Satchel” Paige, George “Mule” Suttles, and Bill Foster suit up for the Black Barons. During the 1940’s the Black Barons would win three (1940, 1945, 1948) league pennants and produce more future stars of the game including MLB Hall of Famer Willie Mays and Lorenzo “Piper” Davis.
“The Rickwood Classic is a Birmingham institution and Stewart Lubricants is proud to be a sponsor.” said President of Stewart Lubricants and Service Company, Rick Stewart.
This year the Barons will don the uniforms worn by the 1920 Birmingham Black Barons featuring a vintage grey-colored jersey with Birmingham written across the chest and a Birmingham Black Barons patch on the left sleeve. The team will also wear special vintage Birmingham Black Barons black caps with red bills and three white B’s arranged in a circle.
“When I was growing up, the only place to watch the Barons was at Rickwood Field, so in my mind there is always that association between the team and the field,” said Levy’s Fine Jewelry Manager Todd Denaburg. “As wonderful as the new field is, it’s always so special to me when the Barons play at Rickwood and we are very proud to be able to be a part of that.”
Andre Dawson, a National League MVP (1987) winner and Hall of Famer played 21 seasons with the Montreal Expos, Chicago Cubs, Boston Red Sox, and Florida Marlins. Dawson was an eight-time All-Star, as well as an eight-time Gold Glove winner who compiled a .279 career batting average, 2,774 hits, 438 home runs, 1,591 RBIs, and 314 stolen bases. Dawson is only the second player in baseball history to reach 400 home runs and 300 stolen bases. On July 25th, 2010 Dawson was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Dawson becomes the first Hall of Fame special guest to attend the Rickwood Classic since Rollie Fingers attended in 2016. Former Hall of Famers to attend the Rickwood Classic include Harmon Killebrew, Gaylord Perry, Fergie Jenkins, and Bowie Kuhn.
“Pitchers and catchers report this week to Spring Training, and plans are well underway for the 2020 Rickwood Classic,” said Friends of Rickwood Chairman Gerald Watkins. “We’re expecting a huge crowd as we celebrate the special 100th Anniversary of the Negro Leagues this summer. Make sure to make your plans early and experience America’s pastime at America’s Oldest Ballpark, Rickwood Field.”
The 2020 Rickwood Classic is scheduled to begin at 12:30 p.m. CST.
In 2009, the Rickwood Classic was named the most desirable Minor League Baseball game to attend in a poll on MiLB.com. The following year it was named Minor League Baseball’s Promotion of the Year. Over 145,000 people have attended the Rickwood Classic since its inception in 1996 and it has been covered by dozens of local and national media outlets including HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, ESPN, and MiLB.com.