ATLANTA (FOX 5 Atlanta) - He was widely believed to be the last surviving member of Atlanta's Negro League baseball team and this month, the community lost a legend.
James "Red" Moore, 99, passed away February 6 after falling ill.
"I was fortunate enough to learn how to play and I just fell in love with the game," Moore said in an interview with FOX 5 Sports in 2000.
Moore's love for the game will be featured in a new exhibit at the Atlanta History Center this summer. “Gatheround: Stories of Atlanta" will include special displays about historic Atlanta neighborhoods, including Bush Mountain, the small, African-American neighborhood where Moore grew up.
"Even though he's gone, we're still acting like he's here," said Jesse Garbowski, the project manager for the neighborhood exhibition.
Garbowski interviewed Moore last fall about his childhood and his introduction to baseball.
"We'd take the baseballs that the old players had," explained Moore in the taped interview. "And after it unraveled, we'd get some tape and wrap it up and make it back more like a baseball again."
Moore started out playing baseball with hand-me-down equipment at around 12 to 13 years old. He said he played for the Oakland City Clubs before getting a try-out with the Atlanta Black Crackers. Moore became the team's first baseman and played for them on and off for several years between 1938 and 1948. During that time, he also played for other Negro League teams and took a short break from 1942 to 1945 to serve in the military.
One of the most precious artifacts that the exhibit will feature is a glove on loan from the Negro League Museum in Kansas City. Garbowski said because Negro League players often used old equipment, not many of them held on to it once their playing days ended.
"There [are] not a lot of these that survived. It's just the rarity of this is amazing and the fact that we're able to display it is mind-blowing to us," Garbowski explained.
The exhibit will also include an interactive element. Kyle McNary, a Negro League historian, gave the center a replica of the wooden bat Moore used, which was heavier than normal.
"You couldn't get any better, unless you had the real thing, to be honest," said Garbowski. "In the exhibit, you'll actually be able to lift the bat and you can tell that it's much heavier than just a standard baseball bat."
A quote from Moore will be included in the exhibit to explain the reason for all that heavy lifting.
“We had a manager for the Schenectady Black Socks, he said I was trying to hit the ball too hard, so he gave me a heavier bat and told me to choke up… then I made contact pretty good," Moore recalled.
In the last two decades of his life, Moore spent a lot of time talking to school groups and sharing stories about his time playing baseball in the Negro League.
"I just loved to play it," he said.
“Gatheround: Stories of Atlanta" will open July 2 at the Atlanta History Center.
This story was first published Feb. 9, 2016.