The nearest professional baseball team to my home town of Cartersville was the

Atlanta Crackers of the Southern Association.

The New York Americans (now known as the Yankees) began their first Spring Training on 18 March 1903 at Piedmont Park in Atlanta, Georgia. Their first three games were exhibition game shutout victories over the Atlanta Crackers. (see Yankees Century, text by Glenn Stout (Houghton Mifflin 2002), pages 16, 18)

From Piedmont Park to 911:

After 911 caused baseball to be cancelled for a week, the Yankees got to the 2001 World Series and, on 30 and 31 October and 1 November, won all 3 games played in New York.

When we were young, my cousin Bev ( Robert Beverly Irwin, Jr. ) and I were both fans of the Atlanta Crackers. According to an Atlanta Cracker web site:

".... the Southern Association ... originated in 1900 with the following teams: the Nashville Vols, Little Rock Travelers, Memphis Chicks, New Orleans Pelicans, Shreveport Tigers, Chattanooga Lookouts, Birmingham Barons, and the Selma, Ala., Christians, the team that would become the Atlanta Crackers the following year. ... Prior to ... 1907 ...[when Spiller Field, later called Ponce de Leon Ball Park, was built]... the Crackers played at various parks throughout the city. ...

... .. The Atlanta Crackers are one of professional baseball's most successful franchises in history. ... The Atlanta Crackers were members of the Southern Association from 1901 until 1961. ... They are also the now-defunct Southern Association's all-time winningest team. In 1962, the Crackers joined the Triple-A International League, where they won their last championship in 1962, when they defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs ... to win the Junior World Series. In 1965, the Crackers played their last season in the brand new Atlanta Stadium that the city built for the soon-to-be-relocating Milwaukee Braves. The following year, the Braves moved south, and moved their Triple-A franchise to another city. ... From their inception in 1901 until their last season in 1965, they won a total of 17 league championships, or pennants. During their 64 year history, the Atlanta Crackers won more titles than any other team except the great New York Yankees. This is one reason why the Crackers were often called the Yankees of the Minors; at one point the Crackers even wore Yankee-like pinstripes! ...

... Babe Ruth and the New York Yankees came through in 1925, and Ruth hit an almost 500-foot home run! And in April 1949, Jackie Robinson [from Cairo, Georgia] and the Brooklyn Dodgers played a three game exhibition series against the Crackers ... Today, all that is left of Spiller Field (later called Ponce de Leon Ball Park) is the giant magnolia ... 462 feet from home plate ...[in]... center field ...".

According to a Cecilia Tan web page of 9 March 2003:

"... I headed to the loading dock behind a certain Borders bookstore to see two giant old magnolia trees.

The story behind the trees is this. On the site of that shopping mall there was once a ballyard that was home to the Atlanta Crackers. ... In center, the field was enclosed not by a fence but by a steep, grassy embankment. The train line ran on top of the embankment, and it is said that a Cracker ...[Bob Montag]... hit a 518 mile long home run by hitting a ball into a passing coal car ...[which, according to an AJC web page, was "... bound for Nashville; a few days later, the train's fireman brought the sooty ball back from Tennessee and asked for an autograph. ...[the home run]... happened in 1954 ..."]... The embankment was considered part of the field of play--you could "climb" the hill to get a fly ball the way guys today climb the padded wall. But growing on the embankment was one of a group of huge magnolia trees. Most of the trees were out of play, but ground rules said that any ball hit into the one tree that was set apart a bit from the others was a home run. Only two men ever hit homers into that tree, and one of them was Babe Ruth. (The other is also in the Hall of Fame ...[Eddie Mathews]... ) The ballpark has been torn down in the name of progress, the team is no more, but two of the trees live on, as do the myths. ...".

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