Past Tense Baseball

This photo of Dunwoody’s 1940s baseball team includes grandsons of Harvey and Berta Martin, Herbert Martin and Dorris Martin. This adult league team played other communities, businesses and military bases and hospitals. Pictured from left standing are: Bonnie Swancey, Tony Palma, Billy Waller, Herbert Martin, Travis Eidson, W. Abernathy, Eugene Wilson, Rembert Sykes and Bud Crews. Kneeling, from left, are: (No first name provided) Chandler, Billy Ivey, Cecil Power, Dorris Martin and Paul Manning.  

A photograph of a Dunwoody baseball team from the 1940’s appeared with my column two weeks ago. The column was about the Martin family who lived where Dunwoody High School is located today. 

Dorris Martin and Herbert Martin, grandsons of the owners of the farm, were in the team photograph. As often happens, that photograph led to new information, which led to more questions. The main question was, who are the other people in the photograph and what can we find out about them? 

Mark Welsh of Dunwoody attended Chamblee High School and shared with me that he recognized and remembered Tony Palma in the photograph. Palma was a physical education teacher and coach at Chamblee when Welsh enrolled in 1969. Palma coached Welsh’s brother and some of his friends in high school baseball. Palma’s career at Chamblee began in the late 1940s and continued until his 1975 retirement. 

Palma attended Oglethorpe University on a baseball scholarship, also playing football at the college. He received his master’s degree at Peabody College, then served in the Army during World War II. Originally from Massachusetts, he met Louise Brayer while at Oglethorpe.   Palma married Brayer and made Atlanta his home after the war. (Atlanta Constitution, June 22, 2008).

Bonnie Swancy grew up on and later owned the land where the Swancy Cottage is located on Roberts Drive.The pioneer Swancy family also owned land across Roberts Drive where the Dunwoody Nature Center is located. Bonnie Swancy was part of the earliest Boy Scout troop in Dunwoody, which began at Dunwoody Methodist Church. He served in the Army during the Korean War. 

Travis Eidson was descended from the early pioneer Eidson and Womack families. He was the son of Calvin Eidson and Corrie Womack Eidson. Eidson served in the Army from 1951 to 1953.  Jane Autry remembers that he managed the Sinclair gas station at the northwest corner of Chamblee Dunwoody Road and Mount Vernon Road. His younger brother Lamar Eidson also played for the Dunwoody baseball team. 

Another descendant of an early Dunwoody family is Paul Manning, whose ancestors first came to Dunwoody in 1891. Their home was along the north side of Mount Vernon Road and included a lake which was used by Dunwoody Baptist Church for baptisms. Manning also attended Chamblee High School. 

Born in 1930, Billie Ivie attended Chamblee High School and then went to North Georgia College on a baseball scholarship. He was a Marine stationed at Naval Air Station (DeKalb-Peachtree Airport today) between 1950 and 1952. He later worked as a grading contractor, general contractor and developer.   

Bud Crews graded the land for the Dunwoody community baseball field along what is now Dunwoody Village Parkway.  He was manager of the baseball team and built wooden bleachers for the fans. 

Cecil Power and Eugene Wilson also attended Chamblee High School and played sports under coach Palma. Since most of the players on the Dunwoody baseball team of the 1940s attended Chamblee High School and were a good bit younger than Palma, it seems likely he recruited players that he coached at the school. Chamblee High School was the only high school in the northern part of DeKalb County during the days of these community baseball teams.

As for Billy Waller, W. Abernathy, Rembert Sykes, and the young man whose last name we believe is Chandler, none of my sources had information on them. If you happen to know more about any of these young men, write me at pasttensega@gmail.com.

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