The Legacy of Black Baseball in Augusta

Leah Holloway  

Baseball has a long legacy in the city of Augusta, where many legends have played the game. Warren Park, which is now the Exchange Club Fairgrounds, saw more than 25 Hall of Famers play in exhibition games over the years beginning in the early 1900s. Ty Cobb, Rogers Hornsby, Tris Speaker, Bill Terry, Casey Stengel, Branch Rickey, Connie Mack, John McGraw, and many other greats appeared at Warren. Jennings stadium, on Walton Way where the old Sears building stood, was historically significant as well, and players such as Bill Johnson, Joe Page, Ralph Houk, Dick McAullife, Coot Veal, Dooley Womack, Kent Hadley, George Alusik, Bo Osborne, Frank Robinson, Ted Kluszewski, Lou Brissie, Hank Aaron, Juan Pizzaro, and Curt Flood played on its field.

Through November, the Georgia Heritage Room, on the third floor of the Augusta-Richmond County Public Library (ARCPLS), is hosting its newest exhibit, Game On: An Exhibit of Black Baseball History in America from local baseball collectors Lamar Garrard and Milledge Murray.

“Our exhibit reflects many pioneers of the African-American experience in professional baseball both in the Major Leagues and the Negro League”, says Garrard. The exhibit is not all-encompassing but could be described as given snapshots of significant events and players.”

Garrard is an Augusta native who loves baseball and shares an interest in its history.

“To continue baseball history, someone has to put effort into studying the history and then telling the story to the public in many venues including exhibits.”

Visitors will be pleased to find many vintage baseball cards of prominent Black players, several photographs, many biographical books, autographed baseballs, a replica Negro league baseball cap. Also, there are several display items about Hank Aaron and his 715th home run and brochures on the Negro League Museum in Kansas City, and many other things that are not often seen.

“It is important to recognize and make known the baseball legacy of our town, Augusta, where so many legends have played the game. Warren Park, which is now the Exchange Club Fairgrounds, was the park where more than 25 Hall of Fame players or more had played in exhibition games over the years in the early 1900s.”

Augusta can trace its baseball roots back 150 years or more. There are several players with Augusta connections in the exhibit.

“Two Negro Leaguers, Carl Long and Cliff Layton, visited Augusta State University (the name then) in 2013 for a traveling Negro League Exhibit and program sponsored by The Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY.  Buck O’Neil, the first black coach in the major leagues, came to the Augusta Museum in 2003 for an exhibition of Negro League photographs sponsored by the Negro League Museum in Kansas City.  Jackie Robinson, the first African-American in the big leagues, and Larry Doby, the 2nd African American in the big leagues, Roy Campanella and Don Newcombe, all came to Jennings Stadium in Augusta for an exhibition game against an Augusta team, the Augusta Black Giants.  This was circa 1950.”

If you would like to learn more about African American baseball giants and their connection to the city of Augusta, visit our Georgia Heritage Room on the third floor of our Headquarters branch (823 Telfair Street, Augusta) or call (706) 826-1511. The Georgia Room will host a reception and program with Lamar Garrard and Milledge Murray on Thursday, October 28th at 6:00 pm. Space is limited so call the number above to register. Masks are required.