Wednesday, July 2, 2014
- by B.B. Branton
It was the summer of 1929 in Birmingham and 7-year-old Nick
Dobbs spent most of his time during those summer months at Rickwood Field
watching and cheering on the Birmingham Barons who were on their way to winning
the Southern Association pennant.
Thankful that his dad, Johnny Dobbs, was the Barons manager,
Nick had a free pass to the games to watch a solid pitching staff with a pair
of 20-game winners and six regulars who hit .300 or better win the teams’
second straight pennant ahead of Southern Association members including Chattanooga
Lookouts, Atlanta Crackers and the New Orleans Pelicans.
Fast forward 85 years, and on another summer afternoon (last
Wednesday) Chattanooga native Nick Dobbs stood between the dugout and home plate at Rickwood Field
to accept a plaque from the Barons as they inducted the late Johnny Dobbs into
the organization’s hall of fame.
“Being part of my dad’s induction into the Birmingham Barons
hall of fame last week was a great thrill and I am grateful they selected him,” said Dobbs.
Johnny Dobbs was the Barons manager for five years (1925-29)
with a record of 427-323, led the Barons to a franchise record 99 wins in 1928
and the Dixie World Series title in 1929.
Nick also had free tickets to games in Atlanta in 1930 and
1931 as his dad was the Atlanta Crackers manager for those two seasons and one
season in Charlotte before passing away in 1934 at age of 59.
“The late 20s was a long time ago so I don’t remember a lot
of specifics of the games at Rickwood Field, but I do recall enjoying being at
the ball park and watching the Barons win pennants in 1928 and ’29.”
Johnny Dobbs and the Lookouts: Dobbs’ 25-year minor league
managerial career took him to Nashville (1907), Chattanooga (1909-1910),
Montgomery (1911-13), New Orleans (1914-22) and Memphis (1923-24) prior to the
At the time of his death in 1934, he had managed more
pennant winners (5) in the South than any other manager; Chattanooga (1909),
New Orleans (1915, ’18), Birmingham (1928-29).
Dobbs spent five
seasons in the major leagues (1901-1905) with the Cincinnati Red, Chicago Cubs
and the Brooklyn Supras. His best season was 1902 as he batted .297 in 63 games
with the Reds and .302 with the Cubs in 59 games with 147 hits, 15 doubles,
five triples and one home run.
19th Rickwood Classic: The Barons hold their hall of fame induction ceremonies each year during the Rickwood Classic.
Barons Hall of Fame Class of 2014:
Johnny Dobbs ... Barons manager, 1925-29 ... led club to Southern Association titles in 1928-29 ... and Dixie Series title in 1929 ... 437-323 in five seasons
Joe Grzenda ... Pitcher ... 17-7 on Birmingham's 1958 pennant winning team and 5-0 on the 1967 championship team ... plaeyd eight seasons in the Major Leagues with six teams, including Detroit, Kansas City and St. Louis ... best season was 5-2 with Washington Senators in 1971
Mike Cameron ... Barons, 1995-96 ... In 1996, he hit .300 with 28 home runs, 77 RBIs and 39 stolen bases ... named the White Sox Minor League Player of the Year ... one of 16 players to hit 4 home runs in a major league game, May 2, 2002 with Seattle Mariners.
Gabby Bell ... Barons radio play-by-play man ... broadcast Barons games from 1948 to the late 1950s.
contact B.B. Branton at email@example.com