1964 Birmingham Barons

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1964 Barons scorecard.jpg

The 1964 Birmingham Barons were the first racially-integrated Barons club, and the first professional team to play at Rickwood Field without segregated seating. The team was owned by Albert Belcher, who had also owned the 1961 Birmingham Barons team that dissolved, along with the Southern Association, in the face of segregation ordinances in Birmingham and New Orleans. Once those ordinances were lifted, a victory of the Civil Rights movement, a new Southern League was formed with Birmingham, again, a charter member.

The team was affiliated with the Kansas City Athletics, then owned by Ensley native Charlie Finley, who often visited during Birmingham A's home stands. He outfitted the team in green and gold uniforms and Belcher had Rickwood Field painted to match. The team's name was changed to the Birmingham Athletics following the 1965 season.

Scheduled for just months after the bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church, the threat of racially-motivated violence loomed over the opener against the Asheville Tourists. Extra police were stationed all around the ballpark. Despite the fact that the team gave away razors and blades at the turnstiles 1., there were no incidents to mar the event, which attracted 6,564 fans. Miss Alabama Judy Short kicked off her heels to throw the first pitch. Finley served as an honorary bat boy for the first few innings, but the Barons lost the opener 4-2.

Tommie Reynolds tied a team record with three home runs against Asheville on August 24. He hit three more on September 5 against Charlotte, matching his own record and setting the team record for runs batted in during a game.

As the season progressed, the Barons remained in the hunt for the pennant, falling a game behind the Lynchburg White Sox in their final game to finish 80-60. The balanced Barons were third in batting, third in pitching, and fourth in fielding in the Southern League. Despite their on-the-field successes, overall attendance at Rickwood was a disappointing 95,703.

Several veterans of the 1964 Barons came back to Birmingham for a reunion on May 14, 2013. They toured Rickwood Field, played a round at the Highland Park Golf Course, ate at Crape Myrtle's Cafe inside Paul Seitz' bookstore. That night they were introduced at Regions Field before the 2013 Birmingham Barons home gave versus the Montgomery Biscuits.

Roster

The 1964 Birmingham Barons team photo

Staff

Schedule

The 1964 Barons finished the season 80-60, one game back from the 81-59 Lynchburg White Sox for the league pennant (there was no playoff).

April

17-19: 3 games vs. Asheville Tourists
21-23: 3 games at Columbus Confederate Yankees
24-26: 3 games at Macon Peaches
27-29: 3 games vs. Knoxville Smokies
30: vs. Chattanooga Looksouts

May

1-3: 3 games vs. Chattanooga Lookouts
4-5: 2 games at Knoxville Smokies
6-8: 3 games at Chattanooga Lookouts
9-12: 4 games vs. Columbus Confederate Yankees
13-15: 3 games vs. Macon Peaches
16-17: 2 games at Asheville Tourists
18-20: 3 games vs. Charlotte Hornets
22-24: 3 games vs. Lynchburg White Sox
25-27: 3 games at Chattanooga Lookouts
28-31: 4 games at Lynchburg White Sox

June

1-4: 4 games vs. Asheville Tourists
5-7: 3 games at Columbus Confederate Yankees
8-11: 4 games at Macon Peaches
12-14: 3 games vs. Knoxville Smokies
15-17: 3 games vs. Chattanooga Lookouts
18-21: 4 games at Knoxville Smokies
22-25: 4 games at Chattanooga Lookouts
26-28: 3 games vs. Columbus Confederate Yankees
29-30: 2 games vs. Macon Peaches

July

1: vs. Macon Peaches
2-5: 4 games at Asheville Tourists
6-8: 3 games at Charlotte Hornets
10-12: 4 games vs. Lynchburg White Sox
15-17: 3 games at Charlotte Hornets
18-20: 3 games at Lynchburg White Sox
22-24: 3 games at Asheville Tourists
25-28: 4 games at Columbus Confederate Yankees
29-31: 3 games at Macon Peaches

August

1-4: 4 games vs. Knoxville Smokies
5-7: 3 games vs. Chattanooga Lookouts
8-11: 4 games at Knoxville Smokies
12-14: 3 games at Chattanooga Lookouts
15-17: 3 games vs. Columbus Confederate Yankees
18-21: 4 games vs. Macon Peaches
22-25: 4 games at Asheville Tourists
27-30: 4 games vs. Charlotte Hornets
31: vs. Lynchburg White Sox

September

1-2: 2 games vs. Lynchburg White Sox
3-6: 4 games at Charlotte Hornets
7-9: 3 games at Lynchburg White Sox

Notes

  1. Segrest-2007

References