From May 30 to June 21, the Rickwood Field SABR Chapter conducted a Facebook poll to determine the best team in Rickwood Field’s history (1910- 87). 16 teams were selected from the Barons, Black Barons, and A’s. Clubs were seeded based on record, winning percentage, regular season pennants, post season performance, statistical data, and anecdotal evidence based on each team’s pitching staffs and player rosters. After two weekends of voting only four teams remained.
The final four featured the 1958 Birmingham Barons, which was the only Barons team to ever win the Southern Association pennant, the SA Playoffs, and the Dixie Series in the same season. The Barons semifinal opponent was the 1948 Birmingham Black Barons, which won the Negro American League pennant and appeared in the last Negro League World Series. The ‘58 Barons prevailed by just a single vote.
The other side of the bracket included two Dixie Series winners. The 1931 Birmingham Barons won the SA pennant and an exciting Dixie Series over Dizzy Dean’s Houston Buffaloes. The Barons opponent was the 1967 Birmingham A’s, who had three future Hall of Famers on the roster (Reggie Jackson, Rollie Fingers, and Tony LaRussa) and won the Southern League pennant before defeating the Albuquerque Dodgers to win the last Dixie Series. SABR Chapter voters overwhelmingly favored the A’s in this imaginary matchup.
In the final contest, the ’67 A’s managed to squeak by the ‘58 Barons by just one vote.
For the complete brackets and voting results please like the Rickwood Field SABR Chapter on Facebook. In addition, Jeb Stewart recently published an article about the 1967 A’s and the last Dixie Series in SABR’s spring Baseball Research Journal, which can be accessed on SABR’s website.