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Tommy John appearance to highlight festivities at the 11th Annual Rickwood Classic

June 14, 2006 - Southern League (SL) - Birmingham Barons News Release

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - The Birmingham Barons and the Friends of Rickwood are proud to announce that former Major League pitcher Tommy John will attend the 11th Annual Rickwood Classic presented by State Farm Insurance® on Thursday, June 22nd, at Rickwood Field.

John, a left-handed pitcher who played 26 seasons (1963-89) in the Major Leagues, will throw out a ceremonial first pitch before the Barons host the Tennessee Smokies in this summer's trip back to Rickwood Field. This year, the Rickwood Classic festivities will be geared around the era of the Birmingham Barons' affiliation with the New York Yankees (1953-56). The Barons will wear white uniforms with blue pinstripes, and first pitch is scheduled for 12:35 p.m.

John's Major League Baseball (MLB) career included seven seasons with the Chicago White Sox (1965-71) and eight years with the New York Yankees (1979-82, 1986-89). A four-time MLB All-Star selection (1968, 1978-80), John compiled a 288-231 win-loss record and a 3.34 ERA in 760 career appearances. The owner of three 20-win seasons (1977, 1979-80), John also recorded 162 complete games and 46 shutouts.

In 1974, John underwent a unique ligament reconstruction surgery on his pitching elbow while playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Following this procedure, now widely known as "Tommy John Surgery", John went on to earn the Hutch Award in 1976 for displaying honor, courage and dedication to baseball both on and off the field. John, who finished second in the Cy Young Award balloting in both 1977 and 1979, was also awarded the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award in 1981.

John will be available to sign autographs during the game at Rickwood Field.

For over one hundred years, America's Pastime has been an integral part of people's lives in Birmingham. A significant part of the Magic City's tie to baseball is historic Rickwood Field. Since 1996, the Birmingham Barons have traveled back to their old home once a year to celebrate the city's rich baseball past.

2006 marks the 50th anniversary of Birmingham's final year of affiliation with the Yankees, a season during which the Yankees won the 17th of their now-26 World Championships. In 1953, the Yankees reeled off their unprecedented fifth consecutive World Series title. In a 1955 exhibition game, the Barons defeated the Yankees by the score of 9-5 at Rickwood Field. Along with manager Casey Stengel, other Yankees who played in the exhibition include Whitey Ford, Don Larsen, Yogi Berra, Phil Rizzuto and Mickey Mantle. Notable players from the Barons roster during Birmingham's affiliation with New York are John Blanchard (1956), Al Cicotte (1953, 1955), Jim Coates (1955), Hal Smith (1953), Tom Sturdivant (1953), Sam Suplizio (1956), Ralph Terry (1955) and Gus Triandos (1953). After being traded in 1954, Triandos went on to become an All-Star with the Baltimore Orioles.

The Barons will also be inducting the second annual class of the Birmingham Barons Hall of Fame at the 2006 Rickwood Classic. Inductees will be selected by a panel of voters consisting of former and current Barons employees, as well as select members of the Birmingham media. Inaugural inductees in 2005 included Lorenzo "Piper" Davis, Willie Mays, Carlton Molesworth and A.H. "Rick" Woodward.

"We are very excited about turning back the clock again in hosting the 11th annual Rickwood Classic," said Jonathan Nelson, General Manager of the Barons. "Our affiliated years with the New York Yankees provided many great memories for Birmingham fans and connected our franchise with one of the most dominating franchises in all of sports. The Rickwood Classic is a very special event for Birmingham, our organization and for Barons and baseball fans alike."

The first 1,500 adults on June 22nd will receive a complimentary Rick Woodward bobblehead doll. Woodward owned the Barons from 1910-37, securing five Southern Association titles during that span. The intellectual architect behind Rickwood Field, Woodward appeared as a pitcher for the Barons during the 1910 season.

"The Rickwood Classic has played, and continues to play, an invaluable role in the overall restoration and revitalization of Rickwood Field, and we look forward each year to this great event," said David Brewer, Executive Director of the Friends of Rickwood. "We are, of course, grateful for the continued support of the Birmingham baseball community, as well as that of our partner, the Birmingham Barons organization."

Tickets for the 11th Annual Rickwood Classic presented by State Farm Insurance are now on sale at the Hoover Met box office. Tickets are $9.00 for general admission and $6.00 for groups of 20-or-more. For ticket information, contact the Barons' Front Office at (205) 988-3200, or visit

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