By Roger Hoover / Jacksonville Suns
One of the Southern League’s great traditions will feature the Jacksonville Suns this season, as the Suns will play the Birmingham Barons in the 20th annual Rickwood Classic at historic Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Alabama on Wednesday May 27 at 12:30 p.m. CT.
This will be Jacksonville’s third appearance in the classic, losing 3-2 in 2007 before picking up a 4-2 win the next season in 2008. The Suns and Barons are 1-1 in Rickwood Classic meetings.
Former Rookie of the Year, eight-time Major League Baseball All-Star, and four-time World Series champion Darryl Strawberry headlines the game as the Guest of Honor and is available for autographs during the game.
Strawberry spent 17 seasons in the Majors, was elected to eight consecutive All-Star games from 1984-90 and was named National League Rookie of the Year in 1983. During his career, Strawberry suited up for the New York Mets, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants and New York Yankees. The slugger won his first World Series title in 1986 with the Mets before winning three with the Yankees (1996, 1998, 1999). The outfielder led the league with 39 home runs and a .545 slugging percentage in 1988 to claim his first of two Silver Slugger awards. Currently, the former big leaguer and his wife, Tracy, are pastors and the founders of Strawberry Ministries.
While the Barons will wear replicas of their 1948 flannels, the Suns will wear their all-yellow uniforms that debuted last season for Sunday throwback games.
The Rickwood Classic was named Minor League Baseball’s Promotion of the Year in 2010, deemed the most desirable Minor League Baseball game to attend in a poll on MiLB.com in 2009, and was included in the “101 Things All Sports Fans Must Experience Before They Die” column written by ESPN.com’s Jim Caple. Over 120,000 people have attended the Rickwood Classic since its inception in 1996 and has been covered by dozens of local and national media outlets – including HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.
Rickwood Field is America’s oldest ballpark, opening in 1910. The historic field was the longtime home of the Barons until the 1987 season, but the Barons have returned to Rickwood each year since 1996 for the Rickwood Classic.
Tickets for the Suns and Barons in the Rickwood Classic are available through the Barons ticket office by calling (205) 988-3200 or visiting www.barons.com.