From Will Hammock at the Gwinnett Daily Post on May 1:
R.A. Gant’s father owned Norcross’ cotton store, situated a stone’s throw from the railroad tracks that still split the quaint downtown area. It also sat alongside the hardware store operated by Roy Carlyle.
An accomplished baseball player himself, Carlyle was famous for his 618-foot home run, the longest tape-measured shot in baseball history back in 1929. The Norcross native reached the major leagues, as did his brother Cleo and another set of brothers raised in Gwinnett County, Ivey and Red Wingo.
Carlyle’s store was where men from the baseball-crazed town gathered to talk about the sport. The town’s local team, which played games a block away beneath a tall ridge that flattens out just enough for a field (it is now Lillian Webb Park), was a powerhouse and typically dominated the conversations.
Gant, now 83, remembers those chats well. He worked for Carlyle for 10 years as a wide-eyed youngster who happened to grow up in a town that produced four major-leaguers in the first half of the 20th century.
The now deceased Wingo brothers — slated for posthumous induction into the Gwinnett County Sports Hall of Fame at today’s Gwinnett Braves game — were among the visitors to Carlyle’s store. Ivey Wingo retired to Norcross after a 17-year big-league career, and Red came back for the occasional visit.
A young Gant took it all in.
“All his knuckles were swollen up like somebody with arthritis, but I figured that’s where the ball hit him from catching all of those games,” Gant said of Ivey, who caught a National League record 1,231 games between 1911 and 1929. “I always thought he was a pretty good sort of fellow. I remember he told me the most he ever made in a season was $10,000, which was a heap of money back then.”
Originally published: May 1, 2011. Last Updated: May 1, 2011.