Georgia Magazine - April 2021 - 24
A sign describes the
significance of a field
where the Atlanta
Black Crackers used to
practice. A local sandlot
team also used the field.
in fabled Yankee
Stadium in August
of that year, taking
on the New York
Black Yankees and
the St. Louis Stars.
the Major League
Baseball color line with the Brooklyn Dodgers in
1947, interest in the Negro Leagues waned considerably. The
Black Crackers continued to play, off and on, when and where
they could. The team soon quietly disbanded and disappeared
entirely in 1949.
Back in the spotlight
Today, the public is beginning to rediscover the players
and teams of the Negro Leagues. Brian Carroll, professor and
chairman of the Department of Communication at Berry
College in Mount Berry, says the recent national focus on racial
equality has brought renewed interest in black baseball.
" It's no coincidence that Major League Baseball
determined late last year to include and incorporate statistics
from the Negro Leagues, " he says. " This removes at least a
residue of segregation and [begins] treating as equal ... the
incredible players of the Negro National and Negro American
White says today's professional baseball likely would
displease the black players of that era.
" The Black Crackers would be disappointed because of
the lack of African Americans playing the sport of baseball at
all levels and how few African American managers there are, "
Ponce de Leon Park was torn down in 1966, but a magnolia
tree from that field still stands along the Atlanta Beltline trail,
behind a T.J. Maxx. In fact, more remains of the Atlanta Black
Crackers' practice field than of that fabled stadium. Thanks to
Greg White, a small sign now highlights what happened on that
little patch of grass in Bush Mountain.
A kid comes from down the street and enters the garden.
The kid reads the sign and looks at the dirt. The seeds are
beneath, eager for the sun.
Jonathan Shipley is a freelance writer based in Atlanta. He's
written about baseball for The Seattle Times, Georgia Backroads
and other publications. He was happy to get an autographed
" Red " Moore baseball as a Christmas present last year.
Crawfordville native leading effort to honor Negro Leagues
COURTESY NEGRO LEAGUES BASEBALL MUSEUM
It was April 8, 1974. Atlanta Braves outfielder
Henry " Hank " Aaron stepped up to the plate and
took one swing at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium
that changed baseball history. He hit the 715th
home run of his career, surpassing Babe Ruth's alltime record.
As Aaron swung, a boy in Crawfordville was
avidly watching the game in his mother's living
room. Home plate was a recliner. First base was a
couch. Second base, the TV. Third base, another
couch. As Aaron rounded the bases, the boy
jumped for joy and rounded the bases just as his
idol was doing. His hero had accomplished the
That kid from Crawfordville, Bob Kendrick, is now president of
the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Mo. He recalls a
day when a special visitor wanted to tour the museum.
It was Hank Aaron.
" I was a nervous wreck, " Kendrick says. " It was the first and only
time I've ever been star-struck. I was reduced to a 12-year-old kid. "
U.S. presidents, first ladies, entertainers and celebrities of all
stripes had visited the museum.
" Absolutely no disrespect, " Kendrick says, " but they're not Hank
Kendrick, who majored in communication at Park University
in Parkville, Mo., started at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum as
a volunteer. A lifelong baseball fan and player
( " I thought I could play " ), he soon moved up the
ranks at the museum, becoming its director of
marketing, then vice president of marketing and
eventually president of the museum in 2011.
" I had no idea that this would be my career
path, " he says. " I've been at this for many years now,
and I'm as excited as I've ever been. There's always
more I want to know and learn. "
He knows a lot and has learned a lot, mostly
about the achievements of the players-not
only on the field but also in life. Take Aaron, for
" Baseball was just a vehicle, " Kendrick
says. " He was so much more than baseball. A civil rights icon. A
philanthropist. A savvy businessman. A humanitarian. "
Being around veteran players also has taught him something.
" Not once have I heard from them any bitterness or ill will. I'm
always struck by their spirit-their indomitable spirit, " he says.
The story of Negro League baseball, he says, is of America at its
worst and at its triumphant best. If the black athletes weren't allowed
to play in Major League Baseball, they'd play baseball anyway.
Kendrick is always eager to share their stories, " not only for what
they did for the game of baseball but what they did for our country.
" The American spirit is to persevere and prevail. Negro League
baseball is just that. There isn't a story more American than that. "
3/12/21 12:04 PM
Georgia Magazine - April 2021
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia Magazine - April 2021
Georgia Magazine - April 2021 - Intro
Georgia Magazine - April 2021 - Cover1
Georgia Magazine - April 2021 - Cover2
Georgia Magazine - April 2021 - Contents
Georgia Magazine - April 2021 - 4
Georgia Magazine - April 2021 - 5
Georgia Magazine - April 2021 - 6
Georgia Magazine - April 2021 - 7
Georgia Magazine - April 2021 - 8
Georgia Magazine - April 2021 - 9
Georgia Magazine - April 2021 - 10
Georgia Magazine - April 2021 - 11
Georgia Magazine - April 2021 - 12
Georgia Magazine - April 2021 - 13
Georgia Magazine - April 2021 - 14
Georgia Magazine - April 2021 - 15
Georgia Magazine - April 2021 - 16
Georgia Magazine - April 2021 - 17
Georgia Magazine - April 2021 - 18
Georgia Magazine - April 2021 - 19
Georgia Magazine - April 2021 - 20
Georgia Magazine - April 2021 - 21
Georgia Magazine - April 2021 - 22
Georgia Magazine - April 2021 - 23
Georgia Magazine - April 2021 - 24
Georgia Magazine - April 2021 - 25
Georgia Magazine - April 2021 - 26
Georgia Magazine - April 2021 - 27
Georgia Magazine - April 2021 - 28
Georgia Magazine - April 2021 - 29
Georgia Magazine - April 2021 - 30
Georgia Magazine - April 2021 - 31
Georgia Magazine - April 2021 - 32
Georgia Magazine - April 2021 - 33
Georgia Magazine - April 2021 - 34
Georgia Magazine - April 2021 - 35
Georgia Magazine - April 2021 - 36
Georgia Magazine - April 2021 - 37
Georgia Magazine - April 2021 - 38
Georgia Magazine - April 2021 - Cover3
Georgia Magazine - April 2021 - Cover4