Former Negro Major Leaguer Red Moore several years ago wearing a replica Atlanta Black Crackers jersey. Courtesy of Greg White.

Atlanta church to honor Negro Major Leaguer with museum, store

Springfield Baptist Church is honoring its longtime deacon and former Negro Major League first baseman James “Red” Moore with a museum and guest store. The room will include artifacts, awards and photographs including those from his playing days. The opening ceremony is 12:30 p.m. this Sunday at the church, 1730 Hollywood Road, Atlanta.

Moore, who died in 2016 nine months before his 100th birthday, was a legend in the Atlanta sports community. He played five years, 1936-40, in the Negro Majors for the Newark Eagles, the Atlanta Black Crackers (in 1938—the only season that franchise qualified as “Major League”) and the Baltimore Elite (pronounced E-Light) Giants. In 1938 he was selected to the Southern News Service’s Negro American League All-Star team.

By all rights the 1938 Black Crackers were Atlanta’s first legitimate major league sports franchise and the first to win a championship—capturing the NAL’s second-half title. But very little is known about that season and for years Moore was the squad’s only surviving member.

His career was cut short (as were those of many ballplayers) by World War II, with Moore spending three years in the Army including 10 months in Europe with the 1699 Combat Engineer Battalion. After the war he continued playing minor league and semipro baseball into the 1950s.

Moore was ordained as a Deacon at Springfield Baptist in 1978 and taught Sunday school and vacation bible school up until the final years of his life.

A few years before his death Moore was Grand Marshall of a Decatur Little League parade where a fledging ballplayer asked him when he played. Patting him on the head Moore replied, “Young man, I played when only the ball was white.”

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