Historic Atlanta baseball game marked return to normalcy after Civil War

From Mark Davis at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on March 22, 2013, with mention of SABR member Alan Morris:

The city is in ruins — buildings toppled by cannon fire, chimneys tottering amid the rubble, train tracks torched and twisted by an army burning its way to the sea. In the spring of 1866, Atlanta bears the bruises of war. It is a hellish time.

And yet, on the morning of May 12, people emerge from their battered homes. Those who have horses saddle them for a short trip to the eastern edge of downtown; families ready carriages, too. Pedestrians head toward a diamond-shaped tract where 18 Atlantans have promised to put on a show.

By 2 p.m., the site is filled with hundreds, perhaps thousands of people eager for entertainment. A bartender — the most honest guy in town, everyone agrees — takes a seat in a big wooden chair close to the action.

“Play ball!” he yells.

So begins Atlanta’s first baseball game. The match lasts 4 1/2 hours. The final score is —

But we are getting ahead of ourselves.

Just in time for Braves’ Opening Day on April 1, Oakland Cemetery is hosting a baseball-themed tour of its grounds, where seven of those long-ago baseball players are buried. They include a doctor, a fireman and a guy who earned the dubious distinction of suffering Atlanta’s first baseball injury: He took a line drive where it hurts the most.

Read the full article here: http://www.ajc.com/news/sports/baseball/historic-baseball-game-marked-a-return-to-normal-a/nW2Gg/

Originally published: March 22, 2013. Last Updated: March 22, 2013.