Braves Remember 1954 Atlanta Crackers

Crackers Were "Atlanta's Team" From 1901-1965

Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - by Tim Evearitt
Former Braves pitcher and play-by-play announcer Ernie Johnson Sr. led the tribute to the 1954 Atlanta Crackers. <i>Click to enlarge photo.</i>
Former Braves pitcher and play-by-play announcer Ernie Johnson Sr. led the tribute to the 1954 Atlanta Crackers. Click to enlarge photo.
- photo by Tim Evearitt

The Atlanta Braves celebrated the 50th anniversary of the 1954 season of the Atlanta Crackers. The 1954 team became only the second team in francise history to win the Southern Association pennant, the SA Shaughnessy playoffs, and the Dixie Series.

The Braves gathered with members of the 54 Crackers Tuesday night for a special ceremony dedicating one of the magnolia trees in Monument Grove to honor the 1954 squad.
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The Crackers, a Braves farm team, played in Atlanta from 1901 until 1965 amassing 17 league championships in their 64 years existence - a feat surpassed in professional baseball only by the New York Yankees.

Before the start of Tuesday's game with the Cincinnati Reds, Ernie Johnson, Sr. led a special presentation of the 1954 Crackers that included a videotape tribute.

Members of the team present included: pitchers Bill George, Bob Giggle, Herb Grissom, Mel Himes, Virgil Lester, Dick Kelly, and Glenn Thompson; outfielder Earl Hersh; catcher Ted Laguna; first baseman Frank Torre; the widow of outfielder Lloyd Gearhart; and representing owner Earl Mann, his widow Myra and son Oreon.

Johnson acknowledged several Cracker players who were not in attendance at the ceremony: Chuck Tanner, Frank Diprima, Bob Montag, Junior Wooten, and Billy Porter.

Johnson called upon the crowd to recall the memories of the 1954 team that have passed away: Bill Ayers, Leo Cristante, Dick Donovan, Pete Whisenant, Don McMahon, Pete Modica, Jack Parks, Paul Rambone, Jim Solt, and Bob Trowbridge.

Many area baseball fans remember the competition between the Chattanooga Lookouts and the Crackers since the Lookouts also were members of the Southern Association.


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