Atlanta Crackers

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Atlanta Crackers
Minor league affiliations
  • Class AAA (1962–1965)
  • Class AA (1946–1961)
  • Class A1 (1936–1945)
  • Class A (1902–1935)
  • Class B (1886, 1892–1896)
Major league affiliations
Minor league titles
Dixie Series titles (2)
  • 1938
  • 1954
League titles (7)
  • 1935
  • 1938
  • 1946
  • 1954
  • 1956
  • 1957
  • 1962
Pennants (21)
  • 1885
  • 1886
  • 1895
  • 1907
  • 1909
  • 1913
  • 1917
  • 1919
  • 1925
  • 1935
  • 1936
  • 1938
  • 1941
  • 1944
  • 1945
  • 1946
  • 1950
  • 1954
  • 1956
  • 1957
  • 1960
Team data
  • 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)

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, Wisconsin, in 1966.


Atlanta played its first Southern Association game (against the Nashville Baseball Club) on Saturday, April 26, 1902 (Memorial Day) in Piedmont Park before a crowd of around 3,500. 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 Crackers name.

Originally the top affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals, the AAA Crackers spent the 1964 season as the Minnesota Twins' top affiliate. Then, in 1965, the Milwaukee Braves became the Crackers' parent club. That team had bought the Crackers as part of their planned move to Atlanta in 1965; under MLB rules of the day, ownership of a minor league team also carried the major league rights to that city. However, an injunction forced the Braves to play a lame-duck season in Milwaukee. The Braves finally moved to Atlanta in 1966, and moved the Crackers to Richmond, Virginia, as the Richmond Braves. In a return home of sorts, the team moved to Gwinnett County, a northeastern suburb of Atlanta, in 2009 as the Gwinnett Braves, now the Gwinnett Stripers. Dating back to their time as the Crackers, the Stripers have been the Braves' top affiliate for 57 seasons, the longest-running affiliation agreement in Triple-A.

The Crackers won the Dixie Series, a postseason interleague championship between the champions of the Southern Association and the Texas League, in 1938 and 1954.[2][3]


The Crackers played in Ponce de Leon Park from 1907 until a fire on September 9, 1923, destroyed the all-wood stadium.[4] 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.[5] That new park was unusual because it was constructed around a magnolia tree that became part of center field. 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.[6] The Crackers played their last season in the newly built Atlanta Stadium (later known as Atlanta–Fulton County Stadium) in 1965.[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 (1950–1958) and Los Angeles Dodgers (1959–1961) 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).

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.[7]

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, as in Georgia cracker
  • 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, with the latter sense still attested in the idiom "not all it's cracked up to be."[8] 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 rascals on the frontiers of Virginia, Maryland, the Carolinas, and Georgia, who often change their places of abode."[8]

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".[9]

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 some white southerners to indicate one that is descended from those original settlers of the area.[8]

As in several other cities, Atlanta's local Negro league team was named after the local White league team: the Atlanta Black Crackers joined the Negro Southern League in 1920, and existed until the early 1950s.

Notable players[edit]

Joe Agler in uniform for the Atlanta Crackers in 1912

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,[12] the only time an announcer has been traded for a player.


  1. ^ a b Minor League Baseball[permanent dead link] at New Georgia Encyclopedia
  2. ^ M'Knight, Felix R (October 4, 1938). "Moon Defeats Texans, 7 to 0". Chattanooga Daily Times. Chattanooga. p. 9 – via
  3. ^ "Atlanta Tops Houston in Dixie Series, 7-1". Johnson City Press. Johnson City. September 29, 1954. p. 28 – via
  4. ^ Ponce de Leon Ballpark[permanent dead link] at New Georgia Encyclopedia
  5. ^ Retrieved August 15, 2008. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ Tree stands as link to city's baseball roots Archived February 11, 2004, at the Wayback Machine, an April 25, 2003 article from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
  7. ^ The Crackers: Early Days of Atlanta Baseball, the origin of the name is unknown. (Athens, Georgia: Hill Street Press, 2003) by Tim Darnell "Hill Street Press | New Books". Archived from the original on May 17, 2008. Retrieved September 17, 2012.
  8. ^ a b c Burrison, John. "Crackers". New Georgia Encyclopedia. Georgia State University. Retrieved April 14, 2013.
  9. ^ Cashin, Edward. "Cities and Counties". New Georgia Encyclopedia. Augusta State University. Retrieved April 14, 2013.
  10. ^ Bob Montag (1923–2005) Archived October 11, 2012, at the Wayback Machine at the New Georgia Encyclopedia
  11. ^ Charley Trippi Archived July 23, 2015, at the Wayback Machine at
  12. ^ Berenter, Josh (May 17, 2012). "Detroit Tigers Broadcaster Ernie Harwell: Celebrating the Legendary Life". Bleacher Report. Retrieved August 1, 2022.

External links[edit]