Georgia Magazine - April 2021 - 24

JONATHAN SHIPLE

Y

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.
When Jackie
Robinson broke
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
leagues. "
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, "
he says.
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
unthinkable.
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
Aaron. "
Kendrick, who majored in communication at Park University
in Parkville, Mo., started at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum as

24

Georgia Magazine

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
example.
" 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. "

April 2021

22-24_Alanta's_Black_Crackers_B_0421.indd 24

3/12/21 12:04 PM



Georgia Magazine - April 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia Magazine - April 2021

Contents
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
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_202104
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_202103
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_202102
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_202101
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_202012
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_202011
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_202010
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_202009
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_202008
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_202007
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_202006
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_202005
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_202004
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_202003
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_202002
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_202001
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201912
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201911
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201910
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201909
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201908
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201907
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201906
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201905
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201904
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201903
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201902
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201901
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201812
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201811
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201810
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201809
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201808
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201807
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201806
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201805
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201804
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201803
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201802
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201801
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201712
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201711
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201710
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201709
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201708
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201707
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201706
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201705
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201704
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201703
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201702
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201701
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201612
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201611
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201610
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201609
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201608
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201607
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201606
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201605
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201604
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201603
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201602
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201601
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201512
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201511
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201510
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201509
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201508
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201507
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201506
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201505
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201504
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201503
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201502
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201501
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/libertynotes_billofrights
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201412
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201411
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201410
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201409
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201408
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201407
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201406
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201405
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201404
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201403
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201402
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201401
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201312
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201311
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201310
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201309
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201308
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201307
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201306
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201305
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201304
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201303
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201302
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201301
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201212
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201211
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201210
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201209
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201208
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201207
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201206
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201205
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201204
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201203
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201202
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201201
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201112
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_realitycheck
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201111
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201110
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201109
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201108
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201107
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201106
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201105
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201104
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201103
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201102
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201101
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201012
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201011
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201010
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201009
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201008
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201007
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201006
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201005
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201004
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201003
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201002
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_201001
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_200912
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_200911
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/gemc/georgia_200910
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com