Atlanta Crackers

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This article is about the minor league team. For the Negro league team, see Atlanta Black Crackers.
Atlanta Crackers
18841965
(1884-1886, 1889, 1892-1898, 1902-1965)
Atlanta, Georgia
Class-level
  • Class AAA (1962-1965)
  • Class AA (1946-1961)
  • Class A1 (1936-1945)
  • Class A (1902-1935)
  • Class B (1886, 1892-1896)
Minor league affiliations
Major league affiliations
Name
  • Atlanta Crackers (1903-1965)
  • Atlanta Colts (1898)
  • Atlanta Crackers (1895-1897)
  • Atlanta Atlantas (1894)
  • Atlanta Windjammers (1893)
  • Atlanta Firecrackers (1892)
  • Atlanta (1889)
  • Atlanta Atlantas (1885-1886)
  • Atlanta (1884)
Ballpark
Minor league titles
League titles 15 (1895, 1907, 1909, 1913, 1917, 1919, 1925, 1935, 1938, 1945, 1954, 1956, 1957, 1960, 1962)

The Atlanta Crackers were minor league baseball teams based in Atlanta, Georgia, between 1901 and 1965. The Crackers were Atlanta's home team until the Atlanta Braves moved from Milwaukee in 1966.

History[edit]

For 60 years (until 1961), the Crackers were part of the Class AA Southern Association, a period during which they won more games than any other Association team, earning the nickname the "Yankees of the Minors". In 1962, the Association disbanded.[1] Then, the former Miami Marlins, a Class AAA International League team that had spent 1961 playing in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Charleston, West Virginia, moved to Atlanta and adopted the name "Crackers."

Ball parks[edit]

The Crackers played in Ponce de Leon Park from 1907 until a fire on September 9, 1923, destroyed the all-wood stadium.[2] Spiller Field (a stadium later also called Ponce de Leon Park), became their home starting in the 1924 season; it was named in honor of a wealthy businessman who paid for the new concrete-and-steel stadium.[3] That new park was unusual because it was constructed around a magnolia tree that became part of the outfield. Balls landing in the tree remained in play, until Earl Mann took over the team in 1947 and had the outfield wall moved in about fifty feet.[4] The Crackers played their last season in the newly built Atlanta Stadium (later known as Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium).[1]

League affiliations[edit]

The Crackers were independent of major league farm systems until 1950. They then became a AA affiliate of the Boston/Milwaukee Braves (1950–58) and Los Angeles Dodgers (1959–61) during the last decade of the Southern Association's existence. As an International League team, they were the top affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals (1962–63), Minnesota Twins (1964) and the Braves again (1965). The team then played in Richmond, Virginia, in the International League as the Braves' Class AAA farm team, the Richmond Braves, through the 2008 season. The team moved to newly built Coolray Field in Lawrenceville, Georgia, in Gwinnett County, Georgia, northeast of Atlanta, in 2009 and now plays as the Gwinnett Braves, thus marking a homecoming of sorts. The close proximity of the Class AAA and MLB clubs makes for a near zero delay when players are called up or sent down.

Origin of the team's name[edit]

According to Tim Darnell, who wrote The Crackers: Early Days of Atlanta Baseball, the origins of the team name is unknown.[5]

Darnell cites several possibilities as to why this name was chosen:

  • A term that means a poor, white southerner.
  • Someone who is quick and efficient at a task.
  • In reference to plowboys who cracked the whip over animals.
  • A shortened version of "Atlanta Firecrackers", the earlier 1892 minor league team.

However, this list does not represent the most likely origins of the name. The term "cracker" is derived from the Gaelic "craic", meaning entertaining conversation or boasting.[6] It was used in the 18th century to denote Irish and Scottish colonists of the Deep South backcountry. The Earl of Dartmouth had this to say in a 1766 correspondence: "I should explain to your Lordship what is meant by Crackers; a name they have got from being great boasters; they are a lawless set of rascalls on the frontiers of Virginia, Maryland, the Carolinas, and Georgia, who often change their places of abode."[6]

During the period of Reconstruction following the American Civil War, there was also a political party of the same name. Organized in Augusta, Georgia, this party's platform was one of "opposition to Catholics and segregation of blacks." [7]

While now sometimes used as a derogatory term for a white southerner that promotes racism, it is also used as a term of pride by white southerners to indicate one that is descended from those original settlers of the area.[6] It is much more likely that the Atlanta Crackers derived their name from the more positive usage, indicating they were proud to be Georgians.

Well-known players[edit]

Joe Agler in uniform for the Atlanta Crackers in 1912

In addition, famed major league play-by-play announcer Ernie Harwell called Cracker games on the radio from 1943 to 1949 before being traded to Brooklyn Dodgers for catcher Cliff Dapper, the only time an announcer has been traded for a player.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b New Georgia Encyclopedia: Minor League Baseball
  2. ^ New Georgia Encyclopedia: Ponce de Leon Ballpark
  3. ^ http://www.atlantacracker.com/stadium.htm
  4. ^ Tree stands as link to city's baseball roots, an April 25, 2003 article from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
  5. ^ The Crackers: Early Days of Atlanta Baseball, the origin of the name is unknown. (Athens, GA: Hill Street Press, 2003) by Tim Darnell http://hillstreetpress.com/Crackers.html
  6. ^ a b c Burrison, John. "Crackers". New Georgia Encyclopedia. Georgia State University. Retrieved 2013-04-14. 
  7. ^ Cashin, Edward. "Cities and Counties". New Georgia Encyclopedia. Augusta State University. Retrieved 2013-04-14. 
  8. ^ New Georgia Encyclopedia: Bob Montag (1923-2005)
  9. ^ Charley Trippi Baseball stats