The Atlanta Braves are a Major League Baseball team based in Atlanta, Georgia. They are in the Eastern Division of the National League. They are most recently known for their ongoing record of 13 consecutive division championships (1991-2004, except for the strike shortened 1994 season), the most in any professional North American sport, while collecting only one World Series championship in that time (in 1995, also a strike shortened season).
- Founded: 1871 in Boston, Massachusetts as a National Association club. The club became a charter member of the National League in 1876 and has remained in the league without a break since then. The Braves are the oldest continuously operating sports franchise in North American sports.
- Formerly known as: Boston Braves (1912_1952), Milwaukee Braves (1953-1965). Prior to 1912, the Boston team had several unofficial nicknames: "Red Stockings" in the 1870s and 1880s; "Beaneaters" in the 1890s and early 1900s; "Doves" (when the Dovey family owned the franchise, 1907-1910) and "Rustlers" (when William Russell owned the franchise, 1911). Following the 1935 season, after enduring bankruptcy and a series of poor seasons, new owner Bob Quinn asked a team of sportswriters to choose a new nickname, to change the team's luck. The sportswriters chose "Bees", a name which never really caught on; even Quinn refused to use it. The team switched back to "Braves" in 1941.
- Home ballpark: Turner Field, Atlanta (aka "The Ted", after Ted Turner)
- Uniform colors: Navy blue, Garnet red, and White
- Logo design: The script word "Braves" above a tomahawk
- Teams in Division: Florida Marlins, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Mets, Washington Nationals
- Wild Card titles won (0): none
- Division titles won (15): 1969, 1982, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004
- National Association pennants won (4): 1872, 1873, 1874, 1875
- National League pennants won (17): 1877, 1878, 1883, 1891, 1892, 1893, 1897, 1898, 1914, 1948, 1957, 1958, 1991, 1992, 1995, 1996, 1999
- World Series championships won (3): 1914, 1957, 1995
The Boston years
The Boston franchise that became known as the Braves took part in some of baseball's most memorable moments, achievements, and penant races. None were more remarkable than the mid-season last-to-first transformation of the 1914 "Miracle" Braves. After a dismal 4-18 start to the season, the fanbase was turned off, as it looked like the Braves were headed for another bottom-feeder season. Everything that could have gone wrong, did go wrong. The only man left believing was the team's manager, "Miracle Man" George Stallings (http://www.baseball-reference.com/managers/stallge01.shtml). Slowly, the team began to turn itself around. It had solidified around the phenomenal double-play tandem of Rabbit Maranville (http://www.baseball-reference.com/m/maranra01.shtml) and Johnny Evers (http://www.baseball-reference.com/e/eversjo01.shtml) (of Evers to Tinker to Chance fame), and a strong starting rotation led by Lefty Tyler (http://www.baseball-reference.com/t/tylerle01.shtml), Dick Rudolph (http://www.baseball-reference.com/r/rudoldi01.shtml), and Bill James (http://www.baseball-reference.com/j/jamesbi02.shtml). At midseason, on July 15th, the team was still in last place, 11.5 games out of first. When the team rallied to sweep the Reds in a doubleheader on July 19th, Stallings declared that the team was playing ball better than any other in the league, and was ready to catch New York. From there came a romp unmatched in baseball history. The Braves went 51-16 in the second half of the season, winning 34 of their last 44 games. Not only did they finish first, but they ended up 10.5 games up on the second place Giants. The team entered the World Series as a heavy underdog to Connie Mack's Philadelphia A's. Nevertheless, the Braves dominated the series in every phase, and swept away the favored Athletics. They were now World Champions. The turnaround was complete. The team was at the top of the league in both pitching, and hitting, and its leader, Evers, won the Chalmers Award, which is equivalent to today's MVP. A miraculous season of these proportions has never again been seen in professional sports.
In 1948 the team won the pennant, behind the pitching of Warren Spahn and Johnny Sain who won 39 games between them. The remainder of the rotation was so thin that in September the Boston Post journalist Gerald Hern characterised them by the poem
- First we'll use Spahn
- then we'll use Sain
- Then an off day
- followed by rain
- Back will come Spahn
- followed by Sain
- And followed
- we hope
- by two days of rain.
The poem received such a wide audience that the sentiment, usually now paraphrased as "Spahn and Sain and pray for rain", entered the baseball vocabulary. Ironically, in the 1948 season, the Braves actually had a better record in games that Spahn and Sain did not start than in games they did.
The Milwaukee years
Their two pennants not withstanding, the Braves term in Boston was not a successful time. Attendances steadily dwindled until, on March 13, 1953, then-owner Lou Perini announced he was moving the team to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. As the 1950s the reinvigorated Braves were increasingly competitive. Sluggers Eddie Mathews and Hank Aaron drove the offense (they would hit a combined 863 home runs as Braves), whilst Spahn and Lew Burdette anchored the rotation. In 1957, it culminated in their first World Series win for over 40 years, defeating the New York Yankees of Berra, Mantle and Ford. Burdette, the Series MVP, threw three complete game victories, giving up only two earned runs.
The Atlanta years
By the early 1960s attendance in Milwaukee had dwindled as well, and a new group of owners once again sought relocation. Keen to attract them, the City of Atlanta constructed a new ballpark, Fulton County Stadium, officially opened in 1965. The next year, the Braves were its new residents. A .500 baseball team in the first few years (85-77, 77-85 and 81-81) respectively, they won the 1969 NL West pennant, before being swept by the "Miracle Mets" in the NLCS. They would not win it again until 1982, under Joe Torre.
In the mean time, fans had to be satisfied with the achievements of Aaron. In the relatively hitter friendly confines of Fulton County Stadium ("The Launching Pad"), he actually increased his offensive production, and by the end of the 1973 season had hit 713 home runs, one short of Babe Ruth's record. Throughout the winter he received racially motivated death threats, but stood up well under the pressure. The next season, it was only a matter of time before he set a new record. On April 4 he hit #714 in Cincinnati, and on April 8, in front of his home fans, he finally beat Ruth's mark.
In 1976 the team was purchased by media magnate Ted Turner, owner of CNN. Turner quickly gained a reputation as a quirky, hands-on baseball owner. In 1977, Turner appointed himself manager, but was ordered to relinquish that position after one game (the Braves lost).
After three straight losing seasons, Bobby Cox was hired as manager of the franchise for the 1978 season. Cox promoted a 22-year-old slugger named Dale Murphy into the starting lineup. Murphy hit 77 home runs over the next three seasons, but struggled on defense, positioned at either catcher or first base while being unable to adeptly play either. However, in 1980, Murphy was moved to center field and demonstrated excellent range and throwing ability, while the Braves earned their first winning season since 1974. Cox was fired after the 1981 season and replaced with Joe Torre, under whose leadership the Braves attained their first divisional title since 1969. Strong performances from Bob Horner, Chris Chambliss, pitcher Phil Niekro, and short relief pitcher Gene Garber helped the Braves, but no Brave was more acclaimed than Murphy, who won both a Most Valuable Player and a Gold Glove award. Murphy also won a Most Valuable Player award the following season, but the Braves began a period of decline that defined the team throughout the 1980s. Murphy, excelling in defense, hitting, and running, was consistently recognized as one of the league's best players, but the Braves averaged only 65 wins per season between 1985-1990.
Bobby Cox was rehired as manager in 1990. Not only was this season a losing effort, the Braves traded Dale Murphy to the Philadelphia Phillies after it was clear he was becoming a less dominant player. However, pitching coach Leo Mazzone began training young pitchers Tom Glavine, Steve Avery, and John Smoltz. Perhaps the Braves' most important move, however, was not on the field, but in the front office. Immediately after the season, John Schuerholz was hired as general manager.
The following season, Glavine, Avery, and Smoltz would be recognized as the best young pitchers in the league, winning 52 games between them. Meanwhile, behind position players Dave Justice, Ron Gant and unexpected league Most Valuable Player and batting-average leader Terry Pendleton, the Braves overcame a slow start to go 47-22 over the last three months of the season and win 8 of their last 9, edging the Los Angeles Dodgers by one game in one of baseball history's more memorable playoff races. They defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates in a tightly contested seven-game NLCS only to lose the World Series, also in seven games, to the Minnesota Twins. Despite the loss, the Braves' success would continue. In the 1992 season, the Braves would reach the NLCS again and defeat, once again, in seven games, the Pirates, only to lose in the World Series to a dominating Toronto Blue Jays team. In 1993, the Braves signed Cy Young Award winning pitcher Greg Maddux, leading many baseball insiders to declare the pitching staff the best of all-time. The Braves would win a World Series in 1995, defeating the Cleveland Indians in six games. With this World Series victory, the Braves became the first team in Major League Baseball to win world championships in three different cities. With their strong pitching being a constant, the Braves would also appear in the 1996 and 1999 World Series, and have not failed to win a division title since 1990 as of this writing. Pitching is not the only constant in the Braves organization; as of the end of the 2004 season, Cox is still the Braves' manager and Schuerholz remains the team's GM.
In 2001, Atlanta won the National League East division, swept the NLDS against the Houston Astros, then lost to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NLCS.
In 2002, 2003, and 2004 the Braves won their division again, but lost in the NLDS in all three years 3 games to 2, to the San Francisco Giants, Chicago Cubs, and Houston Astros respectively.
Players of note
Not to be forgotten
Minor league affiliates
- Richmond Braves (AAA, International League)
- Mississippi Braves (AA, Southern League)
- Myrtle Beach Pelicans (High-A, Carolina League)
- Rome Braves (A, South Atlantic League)
- Danville Braves (Rookie, Appalachian League)
- Orlando Braves (Rookie, Gulf Coast League)
- Atlanta Braves Tickets (http://www.encoretickets.com/app/atlanta_braves_tickets.asp)
- Atlanta Braves official web site (http://atlanta.braves.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/atl/homepage/atl_homepage.jsp)
- Atlanta Braves News, Stats, and Roster (http://www.sportznow.com/teams/atl.htm)
- Atlanta Braves News World unofficial blog (http://www.bravesnewsworld.com)