May 30, 2024 - News

The Atlanta Black Crackers and the Negro Leagues' MLB recognition

A black-and-white photo of baseball players posing with advertisements in the background

The Atlanta Black Crackers played in several segregated professional baseball leagues. Photo: Atlanta History Center

The Atlanta Black Crackers, the city's scrappy Negro League baseball team that wowed crowds off Ponce de Leon Avenue during segregation, are taking their rightful spot alongside baseball's greats.

The latest: On Wednesday, Major League Baseball said it will add statistics from seven professional Negro Leagues that operated between 1920 and 1948 to the Major League historical record, Axios' Russell Contreras writes.

Catch up quick: Originally called the Atlanta Cubs, the Black Crackers launched in 1920 as an undermanned, underfunded outfit using beat-up equipment handed down from the all-white Crackers team, according to the Atlanta History Center.

Yes, but: Years of barnstorming and league play followed. The Black Crackers rebooted in the late 1930s and flourished under new owners John Harden, who operated an Auburn Avenue filling station, and his wife, Billie.

  • Star players included Jim "Pea" Greene and first baseman James "Red" Moore. The team won the Negro League's second-half championship in 1938, according to MLB.
  • The Black Crackers played at Ponce de Leon Park — now the suburban-style Midtown Place shopping center across from Ponce City Market — when the white Crackers team traveled.

State of play: The Black Crackers, like other Negro League teams, faded off after years of financial difficulties and, ultimately, MLB's integration.

The big picture: The inclusion in MLB's record books comes as replica jerseys and caps from the era have become popular with a new generation of fans.

Zoom out: The Negro Leagues were made up of supremely talented Black and Latino players who were barred from the segregated American and National Leagues, Contreras writes.

  • The list of seven leagues chosen for inclusion in the MLB record book includes the Negro American League (1937-1948), which is the league the Black Crackers played in.

The intrigue: With the inclusion of the Negro Leagues stats, Black baseball legend Gibson surpasses Georgia native Ty Cobb for the career batting average record and Babe Ruth's career slugging records, the AP reports.

Go deeper: The Negro National League's lasting legacy, 100 years on

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