Not one but two sets of brothers hailing from Norcross have been drafted to the Major Leagues: Roy and Cleo Carlyle and Ivey and Absalom "Red" Wingo.
Ivey Wingo squatted behind the plate for the champion Cincinnati Reds team of 1919. That World Series went down in history, with sports writers coining the phrase "Black Sox Scandal." The Chicago White Sox were accused of throwing the series to assure payments of bets, with eight members getting kicked out of the league.
Ivey Wingo’s tie with the scandal and with the famous "Shoeless Joe" Jackson, who was then playing outfield, proved unpleasant for him. He carried the controversy home with him to Norcross and ultimately to his grave.
Old timers still remember Ivey Wingo telling tales from the series in a much different light than the newspapers of the day had reported. Ivey stood by his team and his personal effort, citing statistics that seemed to back up his belief that the Reds won, fair and square.
The argument he stood behind led him to a life of anguish. Ivey spent most of his retirement telling tales with locals who gathered around the pot belly stove down at Cofer’s filling station, still on South Peachtree St.
Ivey’s brother Red was drafted to the Detroit Tigers, playing left field with Harry Heilmann in right with Ty Cobb anchored in center between them. These three fine fielders also had averages of .370, .393 and .378, respectively. It was and is the only time in baseball that all three outfielders held season averages of over .370.
Red retired from the Tigers during the Depression, eventually working at the Ford Motor Company in a position the Tigers' owner Walter Briggs helped him land. One month before retirement, a truck he was driving at the plant was rear-ended by another vehicle and Red was thrown from the cab.
His legs were pinned under the wheels and Red died within a few days of the mishap. His grandson, James Wingo, recalls a vivid unsettling memory of the morning he was awoken by the screams of his grandmother. A nightmarish sound he will forever associate with the outfielder, his beloved grandfather who taught how to hold a bat.
During the 2009 Norcross Ghost Tour season, psychic medium Reese Christian sat selling her book "Ghosts of Atlanta: Phantoms of the Phoenix City" when she, quite off the cuff, asked tour producer Kim Brame, a telling question.
“What is up that hill?” Christian asked, pointing towards the new Webb Park, innocently enough.
“Why?” replied Brame.
“I hear a cheering crowd over that hill,” the psychic shared.
Perhaps the players linger on the old baseball field, now a park. Do Wingo and his fellow players pick up their leather gloves and hickory limb bats, as they did when they were young men? Reminiscent of the movie "Field of Dreams," do teams of players appear from the mist, their spirits longing to regain the thrill of the grass they had experienced as young men on the same sand lot?