Notable Alumni: Nat Peeples, Roy Welmaker, Donald Reeves, Felix Evans and James “Red” Moore
Playing out of Ponce de Leon Park, the Atlanta Black Crackers aren’t the most storied Negro League club, but the story they do have is one of immense competitiveness and fight. Throughout their history, not only would they struggle on the field, but off of it from a behind-the-scenes operational standpoint as well. Originally known as the Atlanta Cubs, the Black Crackers would eventually join the Negro American League in 1938, but that would only last a single season.
The Negro Leagues as a whole were still taking shape, and the Atlanta Black Crackers seemed eager to try and fill any open cracks that might emerge as the various leagues would regularly add and subtract teams from their ranks. Navigating the waters of lower level Negro Leagues and independent ball, the Atlanta Black Crackers not only bounced around to different leagues, but also twice ceased operations for longer than two years before being resurrected by unlikely means and sources.
Though the team was consistently in a state of flux, that does not mean the club itself did not have its high marks. In 1938, the only season in which the Black Crackers played against the Negro Leagues’ best, they won the League’s second-half championship. The only thing that prevented them from winning the League’s title were the Memphis Red Sox and a bizarre set of circumstances that led to game cancellations and the league president declaring there be no champion.
In the papers of the day, the Black Crackers were described as a small but speedy bunch, so it would seem that the team on the field ultimately did represent the franchise itself pretty appropriately. The players, like the franchise, exhibited a tremendous amount of resiliency, never letting adversity rob them of their resolve to keep fighting. Even after the team left Atlanta due to financial reasons to become the Indianapolis ABCs in 1939, a Black Crackers franchise would once again return to Atlanta in 1943.
While it was only six years that a team in Atlanta called themselves the Black Crackers, those six years of history go a very long way.