The origin of the nickname "Crackers" is unknown. Cracker was once a derogatory term for a poor white southerner, but it was also used to denote someone quick and efficient at any task. One theory is that the team was named after local farmers who cracked whips over oxen and horses. Another theory is that the name originated from the city's previous team, the Firecrackers.
At different times the Crackers were owned by Georgia Railway and Electric Company (later Georgia Power Company), the city of Atlanta, the Coca-Cola Company, and Earl Mann, who was also general manager for several decades. In their early years the team played at various ballparks throughout the city, but from 1907 until 1965 Ponce de Leon Ballpark was its home.
The Crackers won more league championships than any other Southern Association team. The Crackers twice won the Dixie Series, which pitted the Southern Association champion against the top team from the Texas League. Finishing with the Southern Association's best record, winning its play-off series to capture the pennant, and winning the Dixie Series was a feat called "hitting the Southern Association's grand slam," which the Crackers did twice (in 1938 and 1954), more often than any other team in the league.
The team and its ballpark were segregated, but in 1949 the Crackers made history when they played against Jackie Robinson and the Brooklyn Dodgers in a three-game exhibition series. The final game on April 10, 1949, drew an all-time Ponce de Leon crowd of 25,221, including 13,885 black fans. The Crackers won one of the three games, and the series marked the first time in Atlanta history that blacks and whites competed against each other in a professional sports event.
The Crackers traveled by bus to play in Birmingham, Alabama, and Chattanooga, Tennessee; otherwise they traveled by rail, in "cattle cars," as the players called them, often with no air conditioning. Players wore thick flannel uniforms throughout the season, even during hot summer afternoon games.
Tim Darnell, The Crackers: Early Days of Atlanta Baseball (Athens, Ga.: Hill Street Press, 2003).
Tim Darnell, Atlanta
A project of the Georgia Humanities Council, in partnership with the University of Georgia Press, the University System of Georgia/GALILEO, and the Office of the Governor.