The Atlanta Braves, MLB, Delta Airlines and a host of volunteers worked hard last week to refurbish the practice field of the Atlanta Black Crackers.
The Black Crackers competed in the Negro Leagues, the only place where African Americans could play professional baseball during segregation, in the early and mid-1900s. The field is located in the heart of Atlanta off Bridges Avenue in the Bush Mountain Community.
Partners and volunteers alike were in attendance during the service project, but plain clothed attendees stood out amongst the varying company or attendee branded shirts. Among those who stood out were sisters Angela and Degena Ingram, the daughters of former player Charles Ingram.
“This is an honor for us,” Degena Ingram said. “And also for my uncle (Preston) and my grandfather Alfred Ingram as well.”
Alfred, Preston and Charles all played for the Atlanta Black Crackers. Alfred and Preston are brothers, and Charles is Alfred’s son.
“It’s a sense of family and unity,” Angela added on. “It’s where everyone gathered. That’s what Oakland City’s always done, Bush Mountain’s always done. So this is another project for them to come together again and be a real family and keep it alive.”
Felicia Ingram, Degena’s daughter and Charles’ granddaughter, also shared her memories of the field, including how she used to play on it as a child.
“That means a lot,” Felicia said. “Especially to our upcoming children. They’ll have somewhere to come and look up to, and know that our black people did accomplish some great things.”
The family continued to share stories of growing up around the field and in the community, from Alfred allegedly teaching Satchel Paige how to pitch, to hosting the annual Bush Mountain family reunion.
“It was a close-knit community,” Felicia shared.
Charles’ brother, Larry Jenkins, was also in attendance, and he was pleased with the efforts to restore the field.
“This is truly a godsend,” Jenkins said. “I grew up right here in the neighborhood. This was a blessing, truly a blessing to bring it back.”
All members of the family enjoyed the event, and they shared that if Charles were still alive, he would have to.
“He’d be overjoyed,” Jenkins said. “My brother’s a big crier, I can see him boohooing right now.”
Degena also believed “this would have brought tears to his eye.”