As a child, Bobby Glover would watch practices of the Atlanta Black Crackers, the city’s Negro League baseball team. The workouts took place in the southwest Atlanta neighborhood of Bush Mountain in a sunken meadow that created a natural seating bowl.
“We used to camp in the woods and catch the home run balls and sell them back to the guys for a nickel,” said Glover with a chuckle.
The Braves along with the city of Atlanta and several community groups are combining efforts to restore the baseball field once used by the Black Crackers.
“It’s just awesome to know that they’re giving back and to this neighborhood and letting everybody know how great it was,” said Glover.
Dozens of volunteers gathered Wednesday to refurbish the field, plant a community garden and build a walkway to the park.
Na’Taki Jelks leads the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance. She says it’s part of a larger effort to return the area, which includes 20 acres of urban forest, to a place where neighbors can gather and be active. She says the alliance has worked on the trail system and brought environmental education to the site.
“We haven’t been able to fully utilize it and the community has not been able to fully get the benefit that it’s wanted to see out of this space. And so today represents that first opportunity to reclaim the vision that the community has,” said Jelks.
Relatives and descendants of some of the Black Crackers players were on hand to mark the occasion. Among the dozen volunteers: employees from the Braves, Delta Air Lines and members of the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance, Hands On Atlanta, Trees Atlanta, ServeScape, among others.
“So many of the Negro League players were here in this community,” said Danielle Bedasse, executive director of the Braves’ Foundation. “The contribution of our Negro Leagues to our sport, to our communities, to the history of Atlanta and the history of baseball is not easily said in words. So I hope that you will feel that here today.