Birmingham Barons: Wikis

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Birmingham Barons
Founded in 1885
Hoover, Alabama
BirminghamBaronsLogo2007.PNG
Team Logo
BirminghamBaronsCap.png
Cap Insignia
Class-level
  • Double-A
Minor league affiliations
Major league affiliations
Name
  • Birmingham Barons (1886-present)
  • Birmingham Coal Barons (1885)
Ballpark
Minor league titles
League titles 1983, 1987, 1989, 1993, 2002
Division titles
Owner(s)/Operated by: The Logan family
Manager: Everado Magallanes
General Manager:

The Birmingham Barons are a minor league baseball team based in Birmingham, Alabama. The team, which plays in the Southern League, is the Double-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox major-league club.

The Barons play in Regions Park, located in Hoover, Alabama; the park seats 10,800 fans. They moved there in 1987 from historic Rickwood Field in Birmingham's West End community. They still play one "throwback" game called the Rickwood Classic each season in period uniforms at the old facility.

The Barons were briefly involved in a media frenzy by virtue of being the minor-league club that Michael Jordan played for in 1994 after his first retirement from the NBA.

Contents

Early history

The Barons history can be traced back to 1885, when the Barons (originally known as the Coal Barons) played in the many Southern Leagues during the early years of baseball. In those years leagues came and went, but baseball in Birmingham survived. In 1901 the Southern Association formed with teams in Birmingham, Selma, New Orleans, Shreveport, Little Rock, Memphis, Nashville and Chattanooga. The modern Barons 1st Southern Association title came in 1906 as the team that went 85-47 under manager Harry Vaughn.

In 1887, the Birmingham Barons were playing at Slag Pile (West End Park), located on 6th Street between 1st Avenue North and the Alabama Great Southern Railroad tracks. The old Slag Pile grandstand would only grant one 60-day lease at a time. Also during this time, the Barons played in East Lake. A.H. (Rick) Woodward, the late Birmingham millionaire industrialist, decided to buy the team in 1910 from J.William McQueen, the Barons owner since 1901.

After reaching the final terms in February 1910, Woodward's first objective was to construct a ballpark. In a short time, he produced plans for the first concrete-and-steel ballpark in the minor leagues. Woodward consulted Philadelphia's legendary manager Connie Mack about building the 12.7-acre (51,000 m2) park. From parks such as Philly's Shibe Park and Pittsburgh's Forbes Field, Rickwood Field took shape. The name of the park originated from Woodward's first name and part of his last name. Construction of Rickwood was complete prior to the first game played there on August 18, 1910. The Barons won the opener 3-2 over Montgomery, after a 2-run rally in the 9th inning. A crowd in excess of 10,000 came for the contest.

Carleton Molesworth arrived in Birmingham in 1908 to serve as the Barons manager and outfielder. He ended up serving as skipper until 1922. He helped the Barons to 2 Southern Association titles and became synonymous with Birmingham baseball. The Barons won their first SA title for Molesworth in Rickwood in 1912. The first of 5 Baseball Hall of Famers who played in a Barons uniform was Burleigh Grimes. The right-hander pitched in Birmingham from 1914-1916 and later became one of the last legal spitball pitchers in the majors. He was not a major factor as the Barons took their third SA title with an 88-62 record, but he struck out 158 batters in 1915 and won 20 games in 1916 while pitching a team-leading 276 innings.

The 1920s and 30s

The Barons set attendance records during the "Roaring Twenties". During the decade the Barons drew 160,000 or more to Rickwood 8 times, including a then-team-record 299,150 in 1927, a year in which the Barons played all of their games during the day and there were no Sunday games. During 1927, Hall of Famer Rube Marquard pitched for the Barons.

A total of 14 years passed before the Barons won another Southern Association title in 1928. The team posted a batting average of .331 in winning a club-record 99 games for Johnny Dobbs. This was the first split schedule in the history of the SA and the Barons took the first half title, then beat Memphis in 3 straight for the championship. The next season , the Barons made it back-to-back titles under Dobbs as 13 players hit .300 or better, an SA record. The Barons won their first Dixie Series appearance 4-2 over Dallas of the Texas League.

The 1930s, played under the shadow of the Great Depression, started well for the Barons as the team won the 1931 pennant for second year manager Clyde Milan. It would be the highlight of a decade which saw the Barons in the SA's top 3 only twice. The depression and its financial crunch forced Woodward to sell his beloved ball club, after 3 years of virtual bank ownership, to Ed Norton in 1938.

Rickwood's grand years

The Barons did not claim an SA pennant during the 1940s, but the resurgence of baseball across the country after World War II brought record crowds to Rickwood from 1948-50. In 1948, the Barons drew 445,926 to Rickwood winning the Dixie Series over Fort Worth and followed up with 421,305 in 1949. Unfortunately, the Barons did not win another SA pennant until 1958, when they won 91 games and the pennant by 6 1/2 games for Cal Ermer

The remainder of the 1950s and 60s saw the club finish first in 1959 (1st half) but could not win the pennant. Then, for the first time since 1898, Birmingham did not have a team as the Southern Association ceased operations after the 1961 season.

The new Southern League

Rickwood Field remained dark for just 2 years before the Barons were reborn in 1964 in the newly formed Southern League, composed of members of the old Southern Association and the South Atlantic League. The Barons survived for two years, but moved again after the 1965 season.

The Kansas City (later Oakland) Athletics, owned by Charles O. Finley brought baseball back to the Magic City in 1967 with the Birmingham A's. Right out of the gate the A's took the Southern League title in 1967 by 3 1/2 games under John McNamara. During this time (1967-75) the A's featured Hall of Famers Reggie Jackson and Rollie Fingers, who went on to be mainstays of the Oakland Athletics 3 consecutive World Series titles (1972-74). The A's moved after the 1975 season to Chattanooga and Rickwood did not see Southern League baseball again for 5 seasons.

The Hoover Met

Birmingham Barons logo from 1993-2007

The latest version of the Barons came back to Birmingham in 1981. The Barons played in front of their largest opening night crowd in 31 years (9,185) on April 14, 1981 in a 6-5 win over Jacksonville. The 1981 squad featured future major league star Howard Johnson and former Arizona Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin. Good times followed as the Barons won the 1983 title over Jacksonville in 4 games. It was apparent by 1986 that historic Rickwood Field would not host the Barons forever. Clarkson made plans to move the team to Hoover, Alabama, a Birmingham suburb, and a 10,800 seat Hoover Metropolitan Stadium (now called Regions Park). The final game at Rickwood (September 9, 1987) was a 5-4 loss to Charlotte in the second game of the Southern League title series. The team won "one more for Rickwood" by taking the title in 4 games.

The Barons took the field for the first time at the Hoover Met on April 18, 1988. Birmingham won 8-2 over Greenville in front of 13,279. The club has won three titles (1989,93,02) since the move to Hoover. The 1993 title was led by current Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona.

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Michael Jordan

The 1994 season was historic for the Barons as former NBA superstar Michael Jordan switched sports and was assigned to the club on March 31. Jordan's popularity helped shatter the club's previous season attendance record, 467,867. The Barons drew 985,185 overall and millions of others watched as the club played on national or regional television 4 times. Jordan batted .202 with 3 homers and 51 RBI and stole a club-leading 30 bases as the team was covered by journalists from around the world.

Recent accomplishments

The club was sold to new ownership in 1995 (Elmore Sports Group Ltd.). Among the innovations under the new ownership was the Rickwood Classic. Once a year the Barons return to play a game at Rickwood Field , honoring baseball's rich history in a "turn back the clock" game. The Classic is a favorite of players and fans alike.

The Barons have been to the Southern League playoffs a record-tying six consecutive seasons (2000-2005), winning the Southern League crown in 2002 under former Major League player Wally Backman (before he was briefly hired as the Arizona Diamondbacks manager). Another former Major Leaguer, Razor Shines managed the Barons in 2004-2005 where he made two playoff appearances. Cris Cron, who had previously managed the team during the 1999 season was named the Barons manager for 2006 before another former Major Leaguer, Rafael Santana, became the manager in January 2007. Santana managed the team for one season and was succeeded by Carlos Subero.

In September 2005 the Birmingham Barons were sold by Elmore Sports Group Ltd. to Don Logan and his sons Jeff and Stan. They plan to operate as Birmingham Barons, LLC. The Logans become the 11th owner in the Barons history.

Playoffs and championships

  • Southern League Playoff Appearances (12): 1983, 1987, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1993, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2009
  • Southern League Championships (5): 1983, 1987, 1989, 1993, 2002

Major League affiliations

Roster

Birmingham Barons roster
Players Coaches/Other
Pitchers
  • 34 Ricky Brooks
  • 52 Justin Cassel
  • 23 John Ely
  • 33 Matt Long
  • 35 Johnnie Lowe
  • 50 Henry Mabee
  • 29 Jacob Marceaux
  • 25 Kyle McCulloch
  • 54 Charlie Shirek
  • 32 Matt Zaleski
Catchers

Infielders

  • 41 Javier Colina
  • 22 Lee Cruz
  •  5 Jim Gallagher
  •  3 Robbie Hudson
  • 37 Christian Marrero
  • 10 C.J. Retherford

Outfielders

Manager

Coaches

† Disabled list
* On Chicago White Sox 40-man roster
∞ Reserve list
§ Suspended list
‡ Restricted list
# Rehab assignment
Roster updated 2009-11-11
Transactions

Famous Barons/Birmingham A's

See also

External links


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