Talk of the Town - Swing era June 12 2003

Be a Cracker for a day. No, not that kind of cracker. No one's slinging around epithets — this is baseball, not bad-mouthing.

The Crackers, Atlanta's original baseball team, played in Piedmont Park from 1902 to 1904. And a hundred years later, they're going to do it again.

Well, sort of. Replace the hardscrabble players of yesteryear with Hank Aaron, Dominique Wilkins and other local celebrities and civic leaders, who take to the fields this weekend in replicas of the 1903 uniforms to play by turn-of-the-century rules. The event is the kickoff to the yearlong Piedmont Park Centennial Celebration, and includes carnival games and other activities.

Several of the original players from later generations also will be on-hand — and one will throw the opening pitch.

Let's see: big-bellied businessmen, octogenarians and former pro-athletes, with fans cheering from the sidelines. No one is likely to hit it out of the park. But you can bet they'll all try.

Free. June 14, 1-4 p.m. All proceeds from concessions help fund restoration of the park's Active Oval area and ball fields. Piedmont Park, near Piedmont Road and 14th Street entrance. 404-875-7275. www.piedmontpark.org.