Birmingham Barons

From BR Bullpen


Team History[edit]

The Birmingham Barons, of the Southern League and briefly in Double-A South, continue a long and rich history of baseball in The Magic City. The Chicago White Sox farmhands play their home games at Regions Field in Birmingham, AL.

The first franchise lasted for six decades. Including that one, the city and one of its suburbs have hosted three franchises in the affiliated minors as well as a string of Negro Leagues ballclubs that spanned their four-decade history.

Birmingham professional baseball began with the formation of the Southern Association in 1901. The Barons remained a member of that circuit through its final season, 1961. The Association resisted integration even as Organized Baseball helped lead it; still segregated on the field and in the stands, it folded 14 years after Jackie Robinson broke MLB's color line, in the same year as the Freedom Rides, and three years before the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The Barons' original nickname was "Coal Barons", although the shorter form of the name would prevail; Birmingham was built on, as well as largely of, steel - and coal played a major role in that.

After 1920, when the Birmingham Black Barons co-founded the Negro Southern League, Birmingham's Rickwood Field hosted two ball cubs until the Black Barons folded around 1960.

First pitch before a Barons game in 2010

The second Birmingham Barons joined the Southern League as a Kansas City Athletics' affiliate in 1964, the year the former South Atlantic League changed its name and one year after its promotion from Class A. Another Class A circuit, the Western Carolinas League would later resurrect the South Atlantic name and use it the rest of Affiliated Era. This franchise played two seasons as the Barons but took its parent's nickname in 1966. In 1969, after Sulphur Dell in Nashville, TN, was demolished, Rickwood Field became the oldest stadium extant that had ever hosted Organized Baseball seasons. After the 1975 campaign, facing a rent increase at Rickwood, the Birmingham Athletics moved to Chattanooga, TN. They resumed the locally historic nickname Lookouts and remain there going by that today.

In 1981, the Montgomery Rebels changed Rickwood's "oldest" status from extant to active, and resumed Birmingham Barons history, when they moved there. Then a Detroit Tigers' affiliate, they switched to the Chicago White Sox in 1986 and remain so today. As of the 2021 season, that is the fourth-longest tenure with the same Major League parent - not counting owned-and-operated farm clubs.

The Barons left the aging ballpark in 1988 for Hoover Metropolitan Stadium, a large suburban concrete football-baseball facility. 1994 was legendary, as a White Sox non-prospect named Michael Jordan played outfield for the Barons for one summer before returning to his Hall-of-Fame NBA career. In 1996, the Barons started playing one regular-season game a year at Rickwood as the "Rickwood Classic".

Birmingham drew the Barons back downtown by building Regions Field, a house that led the Southern League in attendance every season from the time it opened in 2012 until the league's final season in 2019.

Year-by-Year Record[edit]

Year League Affiliation Record Finish Manager Playoffs
1901 Southern Association none 45-70 7th Sam Mills / Charley Moss none
1902 Southern Association none 39-81 8th Frank Haller / Irvin Wilhelm none
1903 Southern Association none 59-64 5th Tom O'Brien / Farmer Vaughn none
1904 Southern Association none 73-64 4th Tom O'Brien none
1905 Southern Association none 70-61 5th Farmer Vaughn none
1906 Southern Association none 86-46 1st Farmer Vaughn none
1907 Southern Association none 66-73 5th Farmer Vaughn none
1908 Southern Association none 53-82 8th Farmer Vaughn (8-23) / Carlton Molesworth (45-59) none
1909 Southern Association none 60-79 6th Carlton Molesworth none
1910 Southern Association none 79-61 2nd Carlton Molesworth none
1911 Southern Association none 76-62 3rd Carlton Molesworth none
1912 Southern Association none 85-51 1st Carlton Molesworth none
1913 Southern Association none 74-64 3rd Carlton Molesworth none
1914 Southern Association none 88-62 1st Carlton Molesworth none
1915 Southern Association none 86-67 2nd Carlton Molesworth none
1916 Southern Association none 69-62 3rd Carlton Molesworth none
1917 Southern Association none 87-66 3rd Carlton Molesworth none
1918 Southern Association none 33-31 3rd (tie) Carlton Molesworth none
1919 Southern Association none 59-77 7th Carlton Molesworth none
1920 Southern Association none 85-69 4th Carlton Molesworth none
1921 Southern Association none 90-63 3rd Carlton Molesworth none
1922 Southern Association none 74-80 5th Carlton Molesworth (36-40) / Smutter Matthews (1-3) / Joe Dunn (37-36) none
1923 Southern Association none 75-74 5th Joe Dunn (18-28) / Stuffy Stewart (57-46) none
1924 Southern Association none 54-98 7th Stuffy Stewart none
1925 Southern Association none 67-85 7th Johnny Dobbs none
1926 Southern Association none 87-61 3rd Johnny Dobbs none
1927 Southern Association none 91-63 2nd Johnny Dobbs none
1928 Southern Association none 99-54 1st/2nd Johnny Dobbs League Champs, Lost Dixie Series
1929 Southern Association none 93-60 1st Johnny Dobbs Dixie Series Champs
1930 Southern Association none 85-68 3rd Clyde Milan none
1931 Southern Association none 97-55 1st Clyde Milan Dixie Series Champs
1932 Southern Association none 68-83 5th Clyde Milan none
1933 Southern Association none 76-75 4th Clyde Milan
1934 Southern Association none 64-90 7th Clyde Milan
1935 Southern Association none 59-95 7th Clyde Milan (18-29) / Bill Pierre / Bill Hughes
1936 Southern Association none 82-70 3rd Riggs Stephenson Lost Dixie Series
1937 Southern Association none 75-76 6th Riggs Stephenson
1938 Southern Association Cubs 73-79 6th Fresco Thompson
1939 Southern Association Reds 64-89 7th Dutch Zwilling
1940 Southern Association Reds 70-81 6th Ira Smith
1941 Southern Association Reds 73-79 5th Oscar Roettger
1942 Southern Association Reds 79-73 3rd Johnny Riddle Lost in 1st round
1943 Southern Association Reds 63-76 6th Johnny Riddle
1944 Southern Association Reds 64-75 5th Johnny Riddle (54-57) / Ted Petoskey (10-18)
1945 Southern Association Reds 58-82 6th Frank Snyder
1946 Southern Association Pirates 68-84 7th Frank Snyder
1947 Southern Association Athletics 73-80 6th Dick Porter / Ivy Andrews
1948 Southern Association Red Sox 84-69 3rd Fred Walters Dixie Series Champs
1949 Southern Association Red Sox 91-62 2nd Pinky Higgins Lost in 1st round
1950 Southern Association Red Sox 87-62 2nd Pinky Higgins Lost in 1st round
1951 Southern Association Red Sox 83-71 2nd Red Marion Dixie Series Champs
1952 Southern Association Red Sox 64-90 8th Al Vincent (27-34) / Red Mathis (37-56)
1953 Southern Association Yankees 78-76 4th Mayo Smith Lost League Finals
1954 Southern Association Yankees 81-70 3rd Mayo Smith Lost in 1st round
1955 Southern Association Yankees 88-65 2nd Phil Page Lost League Finals
1956 Southern Association Yankees 81-74 4th Phil Page Lost in 1st round
1957 Southern Association Tigers 74-79 6th Johnny Pesky
1958 Southern Association Tigers 91-62 1st Cal Ermer Dixie Series Champs
1959 Southern Association Tigers 92-61 1st Skeeter Newsome Lost League Finals
1960 Southern Association Tigers 83-70 4th Skeeter Newsome none
1961 Southern Association Tigers 89-63 2nd Frank Skaff none
1964 Southern League Athletics 80-60 2nd Haywood Sullivan none
1965 Southern League Athletics 54-85 8th John McNamara none
Year League Affiliation Record Finish Manager Playoffs Hitting Coach Pitching Coach Coach
1981 Southern League Tigers 71-70 3rd/2nd Roy Majtyka
1982 Southern League Tigers 69-74 5th/2nd Ed Brinkman
1983 Southern League Tigers 91-54 1st/2nd Roy Majtyka League Champs
1984 Southern League Tigers 66-81 5th/2nd Roy Majtyka
1985 Southern League Tigers 57-86 5th/3rd Gordon Mackenzie (4-8) / Mark DeJohn (9-15) /
Frank Franchi (1-5) / Jerry Grote (43-58)
Sam Hairston
1986 Southern League White Sox 70-73 2nd/4th Tom Haller (33-29) / Bob Bailey (37-44) Sam Hairston Bobby Bolin Marv Foley
1987 Southern League White Sox 68-75 1st/5th Rico Petrocelli League Champs Sam Hairston Moe Drabowsky
1988 Southern League White Sox 62-82 5th/4th Rico Petrocelli Sam Hairston Moe Drabowsky Tommy Thompson
1989 Southern League White Sox 88-55 1st/2nd Ken Berry League Champs Ron Jackson Rick Peterson Sam Hairston Tommy Thompson
1990 Southern League White Sox 77-67 4th Ken Berry Lost in 1st round Pat Roessler Rick Peterson Sam Hairston Mike Gellinger
1991 Southern League White Sox 77-66 2nd Tony Franklin Lost League Finals Pat Roessler Rick Peterson Sam Hairston
1992 Southern League White Sox 68-74 6th Tony Franklin Pat Roessler Don Cooper Sam Hairston
1993 Southern League White Sox 78-64 1st Terry Francona League Champs Mike Barnett Kirk Champion Sam Hairston
1994 Southern League White Sox 65-74 4th/5th Terry Francona Mike Barnett Kirk Champion Sam Hairston
1995 Southern League White Sox 80-64 3rd Terry Francona Mike Barnett Kirk Champion Sam Hairston
1996 Southern League White Sox 74-65 5th Mike Heath Von Joshua Kirk Champion Sam Hairston
1997 Southern League White Sox 76-62 2nd Dave Huppert Rance Mulliniks Steve Renko Sam Hairston
1998 Southern League White Sox 58-82 10th Dave Huppert Steve Whitaker Steve Renko
1999 Southern League White Sox 73-67 4th Chris Cron Steve Whitaker Curt Hasler
2000 Southern League White Sox 77-63 2nd Nick Capra Lost in 1st round Gregg Ritchie Curt Hasler
2001 Southern League White Sox 80-60 2nd (t) Nick Capra Lost in 1st round Gregg Ritchie Curt Hasler
2002 Southern League White Sox 79-61 1st/4th Wally Backman League Champs Gregg Ritchie Curt Hasler (- May 14), Juan Nieves
2003 Southern League White Sox 73-64 3rd/1st Wally Backman Gregg Ritchie Juan Nieves
2004 Southern League White Sox 73-66 3rd/1st Razor Shines Manny Trillo Juan Nieves
2005 Southern League White Sox 82-57 2nd/1st Razor Shines Gregg Ritchie Richard Dotson Demetrius Mitchell
2006 Southern League White Sox 59-81 4th/4th Chris Cron Andy Tomberlin Richard Dotson
2007 Southern League White Sox 62-78 8th Rafael Santana Richie Hebner Richard Dotson
2008 Southern League White Sox 74-63 2nd Carlos Subero Lost in 1st round Wes Clements J.R. Perdew
2009 Southern League White Sox 92-47 1st Ever Magallanes Lost in 1st round Andy Tomberlin J.R. Perdew
2010 Southern League White Sox 53-87 10th Ever Magallanes Andy Tomberlin J.R. Perdew
2011 Southern League White Sox 71-69 4th Bobby Magallanes Lost in 1st round Andy Tomberlin J.R. Perdew
2012 Southern League White Sox 63-76 9th Bobby Magallanes Brandon Moore Bobby Thigpen
2013 Southern League White Sox 77-63 3rd Julio Vinas League Champs Gary Ward Britt Burns
2014 Southern League White Sox 60-80 9th Julio Vinas Brandon Moore Britt Burns
2015 Southern League White Sox 69-70 7th Julio Vinas Jamie Dismuke Britt Burns
2016 Southern League White Sox 49-91 10th Ryan Newman Jamie Dismuke J.R. Perdew
2017 Southern League White Sox 53-85 10th Julio Vinas Cole Armstrong Jose Bautista
2018 Southern League White Sox 66-72 8th Julio Vinas Cole Armstrong Richard Dotson
2019 Southern League White Sox 64-72 6th Omar Vizquel Charles Poe Richard Dotson Wes Helms
2020 Season cancelled
2021 Double-A South White Sox 62-56 3rd Justin Jirschele Cameron Seitzer Richard Dotson
2022 Southern League White Sox 61-77 8th Justin Jirschele Charlie Romero Richard Dotson
2023 Southern League White Sox Lorenzo Bundy Nicky Delmonico Danny Farquhar

Further Reading[edit]

  • Art Black: Showdown at Rickwood: Ray Caldwell, Dizzy Dean, and the Early Years of America's Oldest Ball Park, Blue Rooster Press, Birmingham, AL, 2017. ISBN 978-0988980730
  • Larry Colton: Southern League: A True Story of Baseball, Civil Rights, and the Deep South's Most Compelling Pennant Race, Grand Central Publishing, New York, NY, 2013. ISBN 978-1455511884

External Link[edit]