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An Atlanta Crackers-Atlanta Black Crackers happy short story.

An Atlanta Crackers-Atlanta Black Crackers happy short story.

In 1992 I said to heck with the rat race and left a pretty good marketing job in New York City and moved to Georgia to help a friend with his booming bar business located in the trendy Atlanta city of Buckhead. I was tending bar the night Sid Bream lumbered around the bases to bring the Braves the NL title and as you might imagine, the roof nearly came off the joint. While everybody was going berserk, I vividly remember one patron in particular because amongst all the braves t-shirt wearing crowd was this guy wearing what was definitely a baseball shirt, but one I had never seen before that seemed rather strange. It clearly had a big baseball on it, and it clearly said ATLANTA CRACKERS. I did a double take, and then another. What is this? I had never really been to the south before and certainly had my carpet bagging stereotypes on alert. I immediately thought this was not something good. I wanted to ask the guy who/what is the Atlanta Crackers but I was in the weeds and he got lost in the throng. After everybody finally cleared out and we closed shop, I asked a few of the other barkeeps around about it and one of them said, “oh yeah, that was a minor league team that used to play downtown in Ponce De Leon Park. Were pretty good too.” I said “ok, but what about that name?” “Must mean the crack of the bat or something like that… nothing bad or anything.” I accepted that as fact and really never thought about it again.   Until…..

…1998. I’d been in the bar business longer than I’d wanted to be. The booze, late nights (REALLY LATE NIGHTS that turned into early morning nights) had taken their toll and I was ready for another change. Serendipity surely stepped in as I was on a flight back to Georgia after visiting the family in New York when I saw an ad in some catalog for a Hockey sweater. Not just any sweater, but a Montreal Canadiens Ebbets Field Flannels lace up sickest thing you’ve ever seen sweater. I had to have it. I got it. I loved it. I loved it so damn much that IT INSPIRED ME TO OPEN A VINTAGE SPORTS STORE. I moved fast and was looking to open a kiosk at the big mall in Buckhead (Lenox Square). Of course I knew one of my main suppliers had to be Ebbets Field Flannels and when I got the full wholesale catalog what did I see? THE ATLANTA CRACKERS T-SHIRT!...and cap, and jersey and heaven on earth on every history drenched page. I don’t know if the first shirt I saw in ‘92 was an Ebbets shirt, but the story about the Crackers was now coming to light and I made sure to stock up a-plenty on everything Crackers they had to offer. There was more. Flip another page and what did I see? A simple jersey with the arched letters A-B-C on the front and a product description: ATLANTA BLACK CRACKERS. I only felt uncomfortable for about a second and wanted to learn more about the Crackers and the Atlanta Black Crackers. One only has to read the many product descriptions offered on this very website to find out a little more history about the teams, but personally it has meant so much more to me. The Kiosk drew baseball fans like a magnet and business was good. So good that local baseball historian and author, Tim Darnell, purchased every bit of Crackers apparel I had. He then wanted to interview me for an article in Atlanta magazine about the Crackers and my little shop. Tim had written a book about the Crackers called “ The Crackers: Early Days of Atlanta Baseball” and when he saw all of the Crackers and Black Crackers apparel on hand, he actually teared up he got so emotional. He was a regular customer and constant source of old Atlanta sports knowledge that he shared with employees and customers alike.

Tim also introduced me to Larry Winter, who founded the Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame in 2005. Tim invited me to be on the committee and while working the induction ceremony in 2006, I had the honor and pure pleasure of meeting and spending some quality time with former Atlanta Black Crackers player and inductee, James “Red” Moore. He was 90 years old at the time and sharp and witty as he could be. He had lived through the Jim Crow era and shared with me some of the indignities he’d experienced. It was tough to listen to. On the other hand, baseball made life tolerable, segregated as it was, and fun for him. Other Atlanta Sports legends inducted that I met that night were Hank Aaron, Tommy Nobis, and Steve Bartkowski – truly a thrill - but meeting Mr. Moore was easily the highlight for me. He was SO overjoyed at the recognition deserved and bestowed upon him and he received the longest ovation of the night. Red was 99 when he passed away in 2016.

My store had a good run for 12 years from 1998 – 2009. It always amazes me how sports brings people together. I was able to meet and get to know so many wonderful people from athletes and entertainers, to good old regular folks who loved to talk about their favorite sports players, teams, and memories. Now I’m working for Ebbets Field Flannels – the guys who changed my life with a hockey sweater and some crackers.

For the record, according to Tim Darnell, the origin of the Crackers name remains a mystery but it could be a short version of another Atlanta minor league team from the late 1800’s, The Atlanta Firecrackers. I personally like the crack of the bat reference I was told. The Atlanta Black Crackers took their name from the white Atlanta Crackers team, looking to benefit from their name recognition and popularity.   As mentioned earlier, you can learn more by reading the product descriptions for the Atlanta Crackers and Atlanta Black Crackers on our website here: ATLANTA CRACKERS   & ATLANTA BLACK CRACKERS

 

James “Red” Moore with Ebbets jersey

The Crackers: Early Days of Atlanta Baseball


Author - ANDY HYMAN

9 comments

  • Darin W: July 02, 2018

    Here could be the answer on the origin of the Atlanta Crackers name from the Aug. 13, 1911 Atlanta Constitution

    WHY’RE GEORGIA CRACKERS? BET YOU DO NOT KNOW!
    Why are native-born Georgians called “Georgia Crackers?” The question proved a feaser for scores of people in the course of a laudatory investigation to secure Information as to the origin of the term. Lucien Harris In Tax Receiver Armistead’s office started the agitation by propounding the query to a group of people, every one of whom was forced to confess his ignorance.

    “Well, I don’t know, myself,” owned up the tax receiver and Mr. Harris. “But somebody asked me, and I’ve been trying to find out over since.”

    Everybody in the office straightway made It a point to ask everybody else he met, "Why is a Georgian called a “Georgia Cracker?” Nobody seemed to know. Lawyers, judges, court officials, business men all said they did not know. Sheriff Mangum ventured the opinion that Georgian were called “crackers” because they are hard’ to beat; but promptly disclaimed the opinion when he was reminded of the Atlanta Crackers’ record.

    “Well, I used to know but In forgotten,” asserted the person who never likes to admit Ignore on any given subject. “Just give me time, though, and I’ll remember the origin.”

    “How many encyclopedias have you at home?” was the scornful interogation of the seeker after knowledge, and with a laugh the question was smarted on further peregrination.

    Finally a pretty eyed curly-haired young school teacher remarked as a matter of course. “Why, yes, I know.” and, for the benefit of those who were in the subject, she imparted the Information that Georgians are called “Crackers” because of the long-ago custom of carrying big leather whips which they cracked with noise like a young revolvers report.

    Mrs. Lucy Thompson, an aged little woman who lives at 73 West Fifth Street, was the real source of the information. it was she who told the school teacher."

    “Of course,” said Mrs. Thompson. "Even I am not quite old enough to remember the actual facts that led to the origination of the term. but my father and others used to talk about. It. I am an Augustan by birth, and much cotton is brought into that city Many years ago they did not have the transportation facilities that they do now, and the only way to get the cotton to the market was to haul it in big wagons to the city. Only the rich planters could afford to have the many wagons necessary to haul the large cotton crops to town. These men had negroes to drive the teams and whenever these drivers approached the town they began cracking their’ long snake-like leather whips to announce their coming, and all the way through the town they would keep the whips going, cracking them with much vim. Whenever tile people In the town heard the noise of these whips they would’ remark, “There comes the big crackers’ wagons.”

    In time the’ planers came to be known as crackers and eventually out-of-state people applied the term to all Georgians.

    So the little girl who used to boast with pride that she was “a Georgia Cracker, and proud of it” was right after all, in thinking that it meant something above the ordinary.*

  • Donald Barnes: June 12, 2018

    I can remember going to Ponce Delon Park and sit in the wooden bleachers and watch the Atlanta Crackers play

  • Tom Goduto: March 01, 2018

    I, too, had never heard of the Crackers.
    In the mid-60’s, former Pittsburgh Pirates broadcaster Jim Woods used to talk about “Back when I was with the Crackers.” I wondered what in the hell was he talking about?
    Now I know.
    I proudly wear my EFF Crackers hat and T-shirt.

  • Andy Hyman: March 01, 2018

    Wow – So great to hear from all of you folks!! Inspiring story Steve Spencer! Thanks for your support Jarome! Remember you well Marc and Birmingham a great city. Steve – my email is andy@ebbets.com (I tried reaching out to you on Instagram). JULIO!! See you on facebook, brother – Andy

  • Steve Spencer: March 01, 2018

    Great to read about this! My dad played for the Atlanta Crackers. We’re from Arkansas, and the term “cracker” means northing here. I asked my father what the team name meant and didn’t hesitate telling me that it was the crack of the bat. At least that was the cover story.

    I was wearing an Ebbets Fields Crackers jersey down the street one day when I lived in NY in the late 80s. Spike Lee was selling books containing his screenplay for Mo’ Better Blues. He whistled me over and started berating the team name (in good fun). I told him what I told you, and then blew his mind by telling him about the Black Crackers. We had a thirty minute talk and he convinced me that I ought to go to film school.

  • Marc Rice : February 28, 2018

    Hey Andy! My son Dylan and I used to be regular customers at Distant Replays (miss that place a lot). Glad to see you are doing well and working at EFF. Nice piece on the Crackers. Living in Birmingham now, a lot of great baseball history here too. —Marc Rice

  • Steven Davidson: February 28, 2018

    Hey Andy. It’s Steve from Toronto. Hope all is well with you. I’ve been looking to get a hold of you. Please email me back. So happy that I found you.

  • Jarome Harris: February 28, 2018

    I have been a EFF customer since some time in the 90’s and I have a couple of ABC flannels as well as other Negro League teams and I am glad to have read your blog. It provided me some information on the Crackers, both Atlanta and Black Crackers that I was not aware of. Thanks for the history lesson.

  • Julio Burgado: February 28, 2018

    I saw the pic and I knew it was my good ol friend Andy the guy who had BY FAR the best store in the world! There was no greater feeling than openning a box from Distant Replays after a hard day of work. Great article by the way Andy. Take care.

    Julio

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