On Wednesday, the Tennessee Smokies will participate in their third Rickwood Classic in Birmingham, Alabama against the Birmingham Barons. The Rickwood Classic has been played every year since 1996 at the historic Rickwood Field.
Rickwood Field was the home of the Barons from 1910-1987 and is America’s oldest in-use ballpark, older than Boston’s Fenway Park and Chicago’s Wrigley Field. The Classic has annually been one of the most popular baseball events throughout the United States. In 2009, it was voted on MiLB.com as the most anticipated Minor League Baseball Game.
Each season, the Barons and their opponent honor past teams in their organization’s history by donning historic uniforms.
Tomorrow, the Smokies will wear jerseys from the iconic Negro League as they represent the 1935-36 Knoxville Giants and the Barons will honor the 1948 Birmingham Black Barons, also of the Negro League. Former Chicago Cubs pitcher and Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins is this season’s honored guest.
This season is the year that the Smokies will participate in the Rickwood Classic. In 2006 and 2010, the Smokies traveled to Birmingham and faced the Barons at Rickwood Field.
The 2010 Rickwood Classic celebrated the 100th anniversary of Rickwood Field. The Smokies’ gray on gray uniforms honored the 1910 Knoxville Appalachians, members of the original “Sally League” or the South Atlantic League. The Barons represented the 1910 Birmingham Barons, who were the first team to play at Rickwood Fields, by wearing the team’s home white replica uniforms with short-billed black hats. Former AL MVP Herman Killebrew was honored before the game.
The Smokies won the game 8-7 in 11 innings. Leading off the top of the 11th for the Smokies, Marquez Smith hit a home run to left field. Set-up man Dustin Sasser recorded the win and David Cales got the save.
In 2006, the Smokies honored the 1956 Knoxville Smokies, the Baltimore Orioles’ affiliate in the Sally League. The Barons remembered their short stint as a New York Yankees minor league affiliate, donning a white uniform with navy blue pinstripes and blue hats. The special guest for the 2006 Rickwood Classic was former major league pitcher and namesake of the Tommy John surgery, Tommy John.
The Smokies fell to the Barons by a score of 3-2 in 2006. With the score tied headed to the bottom of the 9th inning, Smokies pitcher loaded the bases with no outs when right fielder Thomas Collaro hit a sacrifice fly scoring first baseman Corey Smith, scoring the winning run for the Barons. Smokies pitcher Clint Goocher took the loss and B.J. Lamura recorded his fourth win.
The 18th annual Rickwood Classic ‘s first pitch is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. and will be broadcast from Rickwood Field on the Smokies Radio Network.
To stay current with all the latest news, follow Smokies on Radio on Twitter and like the Smokies on Radio Facebook page. Matthew Osborne is a Broadcast and Media Intern for the Smokies Radio Network. You can follow Matthew on Twitter here: @themindoftheoz