By: Coleman Swierc - email
Longview, Texas (KLTV) - In 1895, the Longview Cannibals took the field and for 44 years, they were the biggest ticket in town.
"They were nationally known, and 61 players went on to play in Major League Baseball."
Now...60 years after the final pitch, one man is bringing back the story of games long forgotten.
"I kept reading about it, and what I was finding out was so interesting, and I was afraid that if I did not put it down in book form, that the history would be lost," said Jeff Barnhart, author of the newly published The Longview Cannibals.
For two years, Jeff Barnhardt put himself in the shoes of the team and the players, putting together the tale of the legendary Cannibal team.
"What these guys did, and what they did for the community here in town, they really were a part of the community, they lived here in town and the people in town identified with them."
In 512 pages he tells the story of the Cannibals, from beginning, the middle and the ultimate end, and even a championship...a story that stretches back generations.
"Being able to talk to the family members and seeing the smiles on their faces, when they are reading through the stories of their family, a lot of the stories the the things that happened on the field and off, they were not aware of."
He says it was never for money, but to tell the story, before the story was forgotten.
"I hope it just brings an awareness to what had happened here, and the time that the Longview Cannibals were here, I hope it draws and awareness to that."
Books are available in Longview at: Barron's, Hastings Books, and Gregg County Historical Museum and in Tyler at Hastings Books.