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Atlanta Braves

The Atlanta Braves are a professional baseball team based in Atlanta, Georgia. The Braves are a member of the Eastern Division of Major League Baseball's National League. From to the present, the Braves have played in Turner Field.

The "Braves" name, which was first used in 1912, originates from a term for a Native American warrior. They are nicknamed "the Bravos", and often self-styled as "America's Team" in reference to the team's games being broadcast on the nationally available TBS until the 2008 season, gaining a wide fanbase.

From 1991-2005, the Braves were one of the most successful franchises in baseball, winning their division title an unprecedented 14 consecutive times in that period (omitting the strike-shortened 1994 season in which there were no official division champions). The Braves advanced to the World Series five times in the 1990s, winning the title in 1995. In their history, the Braves have won 16 divisional titles, nine National League pennants, and three World Series championships—in 1914 as the Boston Braves, in 1957 as the Milwaukee Braves, and in 1995 in Atlanta. The Braves are the only MLB franchise to have won the Series in three different home cities.

One of the National League's two remaining charter franchises (the other being the Chicago Cubs), the club was founded in Boston, Massachusetts in as the Boston Red Stockings (not to be confused with the American League's Boston Red Sox or the NL Central's Cincinnati Reds). The team moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin in and became the Milwaukee Braves. In , the team moved to Atlanta. The team's tenure in Atlanta is famous for Hank Aaron's breaking of the career home run record in 1974; the new record stood until .

History

Boston

1871-1913

The Cincinnati Red Stockings, established in 1869 as the first professional baseball team, voted to dissolve after the 1870 season. Player-manager Harry Wright then went to Boston, Massachusetts at the invitation of Boston Red Stockings founder Ivers Whitney Adams, with brother George and two other Cincinnati players, to form the nucleus of the Boston Red Stockings, a charter member of the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players. The original Boston Red Stockings team and its successors can lay claim to being the oldest continuously playing team in American professional sports. (The only other team that has been organized as long, the Chicago Cubs, did not play for the two years following the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.) Two young players hired away from the Forest City club of Rockford, Illinois, turned out to be the biggest stars during the NAPBBP years: pitcher Al Spalding (founder of Spalding sporting goods) and second baseman Ross Barnes.

Led by the Wright brothers, Barnes, and Spalding, the Red Stockings dominated the National Association, winning four of that league's five championships. The team became one of the National League's charter franchises in 1876, sometimes called the "Red Caps" (as a new Cincinnati Red Stockings club was another charter member). Boston came to be called the Beaneaters in 1883, while retaining red as the team color.

Although somewhat stripped of talent in the National League's inaugural year, Boston bounced back to win the 1877 and 1878 pennants. The Red Caps/Beaneaters were one of the league's dominant teams during the 19th century, winning a total of eight pennants. For most of that time, their manager was Frank Selee, the first manager not to double as a player as well. The 1898 team finished 102-47, a club record for wins that would stand for almost a century.

The team was decimated when the American League's new Boston entry set up shop in 1901. Many of the Beaneaters' stars jumped to the new team, which offered contracts that the Beaneaters' owners didn't even bother to match. They only managed one winning season from 1900 to 1913, and lost 100 games five times. In 1907, the Beaneaters (temporarily) eliminated the last bit of red from their stockings because their manager thought the red dye could cause wounds to become infected (as noted in The Sporting News Baseball Guide during the 1940s when each team's entry had a history of its nickname(s). See details in History of baseball team nicknames). The American League club's owner, Charles Taylor, wasted little time in changing his team's name to the Red Sox, in place of the generic "Americans". Media-driven nickname changes to the Doves in 1907 and the Rustlers in 1911 did nothing to change the National League club's luck. The team became the Braves for the first time in 1912. Their owner, James Gaffney, was a member of New York City's political machine, Tammany Hall, which used an Indian chief as their symbol.

1914: Miracle

Two years later, the Braves put together one of the most memorable seasons in baseball history. After a dismal 4-18 start, the Braves seemed to be on pace for a last place finish. On July 4, 1914, the Braves lost both games of a doubleheader to the Brooklyn Dodgers. The consecutive losses put their record at 26-40 and the Braves were in last place, 15 games behind the league-leading New York Giants, who had won the previous three league pennants. After a day off, the Braves started to put together a hot streak, and from July 6 through September 5, the Braves went 41-12. On September 7th and 8th, the Braves took 2 of 3 from the New York Giants and moved into first place. The Braves tore through September and early October, closing with 25 wins against 6 losses, while the Giants went 16-16. They are the only team to win a pennant after being in last place on the Fourth of July. They were in last place as late as July 18, but were close to the pack, moving into fourth on July 21 and second place on August 12.

Despite their amazing comeback, the Braves entered the World Series as a heavy underdog to Connie Mack's Philadelphia A's. Nevertheless, the Braves swept the Athletics--the first unqualified sweep in the young history of the modern World Series (the 1907 Series had had one tied game)--to win the world championship. Meanwhile, Johnny Evers won the Chalmers Award.

The Braves played the World Series (as well as the last few games of the 1914 season) at Fenway Park, since their normal home, the South End Grounds, was too small. However, the Braves' success inspired owner Gaffney to build a modern park, Braves Field, which opened in August 1915. It was the largest park in the majors at the time, with 40,000 seats and also a very spacious outfield. The park was novel for its time; public transportation brought fans right into the park.

1915-1953

After contending for most of 1915 and 1916, the Braves only twice posted winning records from 1917 to 1932. The lone highlight of those years came when Judge Emil Fuchs bought the team in 1923 to bring his longtime friend, pitching great Christy Mathewson, back into the game. However, Mathewson died in 1925, leaving Fuchs in control of the team.

Fuchs was committed to building a winner, but the damage from the years prior to his arrival took some time to overcome. The Braves finally managed to compete in 1933 and 1934 under manager Bill McKechnie, but Fuchs' revenue was severely depleted due to the Great Depression.

Looking for a way to get more fans and more money, Fuchs worked out a deal with the New York Yankees to acquire Babe Ruth, who had, ironically, started his career with the Red Sox. Fuchs made Ruth team vice president, and promised him a share of the profits. He was also granted the title of assistant manager, and was to be consulted on all of the Braves' deals. Fuchs even suggested that Ruth, who had long had his heart set on managing, could take over as manager once McKechnie stepped down--perhaps as early as 1936.

At first, it looked like Ruth was the final piece team needed in 1935. On opening day, he had a hand in all of the Braves' runs in a 4-2 win over the Giants. However, that proved to be the only time the Braves were over .500 all year. Events went downhill quickly. While Ruth could still hit, he could do little else. He couldn't run, and his fielding was so terrible that three of the Braves' pitchers threatened to go on strike if Ruth were in the lineup. It soon became obvious that he was vice president and assistant manager in name only and Fuchs' promise of a share of team profits was hot air. In fact, Ruth discovered that Fuchs expected him to invest some of his money in the team.

Seeing a franchise in complete disarray, Ruth retired on June 1--only six days after he clouted, in what remains one of the most memorable afternoons in baseball history, what turned out to be the last three home runs of his career. He'd wanted to quit as early as May 12, but Fuchs wanted him to hang on so he could play in every National League park. The Braves finished 38-115, the worst season in franchise history. Their .248 winning percentage is the third-worst in baseball history, and the second-worst in National League history (behind only the 1899 Cleveland Spiders).

Fuchs lost control of the team in August 1935, and the new owners tried to change the team's image by renaming it the Boston Bees. This did little to change the team's fortunes. After five uneven years, a new owner, construction magnate Lou Perini, changed the nickname back to the Braves. He immediately set about rebuilding the team. World War II slowed things down a little, but the team rode the pitching of Warren Spahn to impressive seasons in 1946 and 1947.

In 1948 the team won the pennant, behind the pitching of Spahn and Johnny Sain, who won 39 games between them. The remainder of the rotation was so thin that in September, Boston Post writer Gerald Hern wrote this poem about the pair:

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. (Other sources include pitcher Vern Bickford in the verse.)

The 1948 World Series, which the Braves lost in 6 games to the Indians, turned out to be the Braves' last hurrah in Boston. Amid four mediocre seasons, attendance steadily dwindled until, on March 13, 1953, Perini, who had recently bought out his original partners, announced he was moving the team to Milwaukee, where the Braves had their top farm club, the Brewers. Milwaukee had long been a possible target for relocation. Bill Veeck had tried to move his St. Louis Browns there earlier the same year (ironically, Milwaukee was the original home of that franchise), but his proposal had been voted down by the other American League owners.

Milwaukee

1953-1965

Milwaukee went wild over the Braves, who were welcomed as genuine heroes. The Braves finished 92-62 in their first season in Milwaukee, and drew a then-NL record 1.8 million fans. The success of the team was noted by many owners. Not coincidentally, the Philadelphia Athletics, St. Louis Browns, Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants would leave their original hometowns in the next five years.

As the 1950s progressed, the reinvigorated Braves became increasingly competitive. Sluggers Eddie Mathews and Hank Aaron drove the offense (they would hit a combined 1,226 home runs as Braves, with 850 of those coming while the franchise was in Milwaukee), whilst Spahn, Lew Burdette and Bob Buhl anchored the rotation. In 1957, the Braves celebrated their first pennant in nine years spearheaded by Aaron's MVP season, as he led the National League in home runs and RBI. Perhaps the most memorable of his 44 round-trippers that season came on September 23, a two-run walk-off home run that gave the Braves a 4-2 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals and clinched the League championship. The team then went on to its first World Series win in over 40 years, defeating the New York Yankees of Berra, Mantle, and Ford in seven games. Burdette, the Series MVP, threw three complete game victories, giving up only two earned runs.

In 1958, the Braves again won the National League pennant and jumped out to a three games to one lead in the World Series against New York once more, thanks in part to the strength of Spahn's and Burdette's pitching. But the Yankees stormed back to take the last three games, in large part to World Series MVP Bob Turley's pitching. The 1959 season saw the Braves finish the season in a tie with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Many residents of Chicago and Milwaukee were hoping for a Sox-Braves Series, as the cities are only about apart, but it was not to be because Milwaukee fell in a best-of-3 playoff with two straight losses to the Dodgers. The Dodgers would go on to defeat the Chicago White Sox in the World Series.

The next six years were up-and-down for the Braves. The 1960 season featured two no-hitters by Burdette and Spahn, and Milwaukee finished seven games behind the Pittsburgh Pirates, who ultimately were to win the World Series that year, in second place. The 1961 season saw a drop in the standings for the Braves down to fourth, despite Spahn recording his 300th victory and pitching another no-hitter that year.

Aaron hit 45 home runs in 1962, a Milwaukee career high for him, but this did not translate into wins for the Braves, as they finished fifth. The next season, Aaron again hit 44 home runs and notched 130 RBI, and Spahn was once again the ace of the staff, going 23-7. However, none of the other Braves produced at that level, and the team finished in the lower half of the league, or "second division", for the first time in its short history in Milwaukee.

The Braves were somewhat mediocre as the 1960s began, but fattened up on the expansion New York Mets and Houston Colt .45s. To this day, the Milwaukee Braves are the only major league team who played more than one season and never had a losing record.

Perini sold the Braves to a Chicago-based group led by William Bartholomay in 1962. The ink was barely dry on the deal when Bartholomay started shopping the Braves to a larger television market. Keen to attract them, the fast-growing city of Atlanta, led by Mayor Ivan Allen, constructed a new $18 million, 52,000-seat ballpark in less than one year, Atlanta Stadium, which was officially opened in 1965 in hopes of luring an existing major league baseball and/or NFL/AFL team. After the city failed to lure the Kansas City A's to Atlanta (the A's would move to Oakland in 1968), the Braves announced their intention to move to Atlanta for the 1965 season. However, an injunction filed in Wisconsin kept the Braves in Milwaukee for one final year. In 1966, the Braves completed the move to Atlanta.

Atlanta

1966-1974

The Braves were a .500 team in their first few years in Atlanta  85-77 in 1966, 77-85 in 1967, and 81-81 in 1968. The 1967 season was the Braves' first losing season since 1952, their last year in Boston. In 1969, with the onset of divisional play, the Braves won the first-ever National League West Division title, before being swept by the "Miracle Mets" in the National League Championship Series. They would not be a factor during the next decade, posting only two winning seasons between 1970 and 1981 - in some cases, fielding teams as bad as the worst Boston teams.

In the meantime, fans had to be satisfied with the achievements of Hank Aaron. In the relatively hitter-friendly confines and higher-than-average altitude of Atlanta Stadium ("The Launching Pad"), he actually increased his offensive production. Atlanta also produced batting champions in Rico Carty (in 1970) and Ralph Garr (in 1974). In the shadow of Aaron's historical home run pursuit, was the fact that three Atlanta sluggers hit 40 or more home runs in 1973 -- Darrell Evans, Davey Johnson and, of course, Aaron. By the end of the 1973 season Aaron had hit 713 home runs, one short of 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, opening day, he hit #714 in Cincinnati, and on April 8, in front of his home fans, he finally beat Ruth's mark.

1976-1977: Ted Turner Buys the team

In 1976 the team was purchased by media magnate Ted Turner, owner of superstation WTBS, as a means to keep the team (and one of his main programming staples) in Atlanta. The financially-strapped Turner used money already paid to the team for their broadcast rights as a down-payment. It was then that Atlanta Stadium was re-named Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. Turner quickly gained a reputation as a quirky, hands-on baseball owner. On May 11, 1977, Turner appointed himself manager, but, because MLB passed a rule in the 1950s barring managers from holding a financial stake in their team, Turner was ordered to relinquish that position after one game (the Braves lost 2-1 to the Pittsburgh Pirates to bring their losing streak to 17 games).

Turner used the Braves as a major programming draw for his fledgling cable network, making the Braves the first franchise to have a regular, nationwide audience and fanbase. WTBS marketed the team as "The Atlanta Braves: America's Team", a nickname that still sticks in some areas of the country, especially the South, today. Among other things, in 1976 Turner suggested the nickname "Channel" for pitcher Andy Messersmith and jersey number 17, in order to promote the television station that aired Braves games. Major League Baseball quickly nixed the idea.

1978-1990

After three straight losing seasons, Bobby Cox was hired for his first stint as manager of the franchise for the 1978 season, and he 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 and 1990. Their lowest point came in 1988, when they lost 106 games. The 1986 season saw the return of Bobby Cox to the Braves organization as general manager. Also in 1986, the team stopped using their Native American-themed mascot, Chief Noc-A-Homa.

1991-2004: Successes and Stars

Cox returned to the dugout as manager in the middle of the 1990 season, replacing Russ Nixon. The Braves would finish the year with the worst record in baseball, at 65-97, and traded Dale Murphy to the Philadelphia Phillies after it was clear he was becoming a less dominant player. However, pitching coach Leo Mazzone began developing young pitchers Tom Glavine, Steve Avery, and John Smoltz into future stars. That same year, the Braves used the number one overall pick in the Major League Baseball Draft to select Chipper Jones, who would go on to become one of the best hitters in team history. 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 away from the Kansas City Royals as general manager.

The following season, Glavine, Avery, and Smoltz would be recognized as the best young pitchers in the league, winning 52 games among them. Meanwhile, behind position players Dave Justice, Ron Gant and unexpected league Most Valuable Player and batting champion Terry Pendleton, the Braves overcame a 39-40 start, winning 55 of their final 83 games over the last three months of the season and edging the Los Angeles Dodgers by one game in one of baseball history's more memorable playoff races. The "Worst to First" Braves, who had not won a divisional title since 1982, captivated the city of Atlanta (and, to a larger degree, the state of Georgia and the entire southeast) during their improbable run to the flag. They defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates in a very tightly contested seven-game NLCS only to lose the World Series, also in seven games, to the Minnesota Twins. The series, considered by many to be one of the greatest ever, was the first time a team that had finished last in its division one year went to the World Series the next; both the Twins and Braves accomplished the feat.

During the Braves' rise to prominence in the early 1990s, their long-standing ethnic nickname came under much closer scrutiny, even being protested in Minneapolis when the Braves visited the Twins for Game 1 of the 1991 World Series. The team was especially criticized for selling plastic and foam tomahawks, encouraging the so-called tomahawk chop and the accompanying war cry emitted by the fans. The war cry and tomahawk chop are similar, if not identical, to what Florida State University fans do at their games. Initially, the war chant music was played by the Braves' organist, but in recent years, a recording of the FSU band has been used instead. This tradition can be traced back to the arrival of former Seminole Deion Sanders, who also played for the NFL's Atlanta Falcons at the time (he would go on to play both sports simultaneously in San Francisco for one year).

Despite the World Series loss, the Braves' success would continue. In the 1992 season, the Braves returned to the NLCS and once again defeated the Pirates in seven games, culminated in a dramatic game seven win through Francisco Cabrera's ninth inning hit that scored David Justice and Sid Bream. It was the first time in post season history that the tying and winning run had scored on a single play in the ninth inning. The Braves lost in the World Series to the Toronto Blue Jays. In 1993, the Braves signed Cy Young Award winning pitcher Greg Maddux from the Chicago Cubs, leading many baseball insiders to declare the team's pitching staff the best at that time. The 1993 team posted a franchise-best 104 wins after a dramatic pennant race with the San Francisco Giants, who won 103 games. The Braves needed a stunning 55-19 finish to edge out the Giants, who led the Braves by nine games in the standings as late as August 11. However, the Braves fell in the NLCS to the Philadelphia Phillies in a six-game upset.

In 1994, in a realignment of the National League's divisions following the 1993 expansion, the Braves moved to the Eastern Division. The player's strike cut short the 1994 season, prior to the division championships, with the Braves six games behind the Montreal Expos with 48 games left to play.

The Braves returned strong the following strike-shortened (teams played 144 games instead of the customary 162) year and beat the Cleveland Indians in the World Series. This squelched claims by many Braves critics that they were the "Buffalo Bills of Baseball" (January 1996 issue of Beckett Baseball Card Monthly). 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 (they lost both series to the New York Yankees, however), and had a streak of division titles from 1991 to 2005 (three in the Western Division and eleven in the Eastern) interrupted only in 1994 when the strike ended the season early. Pitching is not the only constant in the Braves organization — Cox is still the Braves' manager, while Schuerholz remained the team's GM until after the 2007 season when he was promoted to team president. Pendleton did not finish his playing career in Atlanta, but returned to the Braves system as the hitting coach.

A 95-67 record in 2000 produced a ninth consecutive division title. However, a sweep at the hands of the St. Louis Cardinals prevented the Braves from reaching the NLCS. In 2001, Atlanta won the National League East division yet again, swept the NLDS against the Houston Astros, then lost to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the National League Championship Series four games to one. In 2002, 2003 and 2004, the Braves won their division again, but lost in the NLDS in all three years in the same fashion: 3 games to 2 to the San Francisco Giants,Chicago Cubs, and Houston Astros.

Cy Young dominance
Six National League Cy Young Awards in the 1990s were awarded to three Braves pitchers:

  • In 1991, left-handed pitcher Tom Glavine received his first award.
  • Right-handed pitcher Greg Maddux won three in a row with the Braves, from 1993 through 1995. His first award came in 1992 with the Cubs.
  • In 1996, right-handed pitcher John Smoltz received his only Cy Young award.
  • In 1998, Glavine won his second.

2005: A New Generation

In 2005, the Braves won the Eastern Division championship for the fourteenth consecutive time from 1991 to 2005. Fourteen consecutive division titles stands as the record for all major league baseball. The 2005 title marked the first time any MLB team made the postseason with more than 4 rookies who each had more than 100 ABs (Wilson Betemit, Brian McCann, Pete Orr, Ryan Langerhans, Jeff Francoeur). Catcher Brian McCann, right fielder Jeff Francoeur, and pitcher Kyle Davies all grew up in the suburbs of Atlanta. The large number of rookies to debut in 2005 were nicknamed the "Baby Braves" by fans and became an Atlanta-area sensation, helping to lead the club to a record of 90-72.

However, the season would end on a sour note as the Braves lost the National League Division series to the Astros in four games. In Game 4, with the Braves leading by 5 in the eighth inning, the Astros battled back with a Lance Berkman grand slam and a two-out, ninth inning Brad Ausmus home run off of Braves closer Kyle Farnsworth. The game didn't end until the 18th inning, becoming the longest game in playoff history at 5 hours 50 minutes. Chris Burke ended the marathon with a home run off of Joey Devine.

After the 2005 season, the Braves lost their long-time pitching coach Leo Mazzone, who left to go to the Baltimore Orioles. Roger McDowell took his place in the Atlanta dugout. Unable to re-sign shortstop Rafael Furcal, the Braves acquired shortstop Edgar Rentería from the Boston Red Sox.

In December 2005, team owner Time Warner, who inherited the Braves after purchasing TBS in 1996, announced it was placing the team for sale. Liberty Media began negotiations to purchase the team.

2006: Struggles

In 2006, the Braves did not perform at the level they had grown accustomed to. Due to an offensive slump, injuries to their starting rotation, and subpar bullpen performances, the Braves compiled a 6-21 record for the month of June, the worst month ever in the city of Atlanta, and just percentage points better than the Boston Braves of May 1935 (4-20).

The Braves made their move in July, going 14-10. However, the team remained in the bottom half of the NL East and trailed the Mets by a double-digit deficit for much of the season (13 games at the All-Star Break). However, despite their struggles, the Braves entered the break down by only six and a half games to the Dodgers for the NL Wild Card slot after winning seven of their last ten games.

After the break, the Braves came out with their bats swinging, setting many franchise records. They won five straight, sweeping the Padres and taking two from the Cardinals, tallying a total of 65 runs in that span. The 65 runs in five games is the best by the franchise since 1897, when the Boston Beaneaters totaled 78, including 25 in one game and 21 in another, from May 31-June 3; the 2006 Braves also became the first team since the 1930 New York Yankees to score ten runs or more in five straight games. The Braves had a total of 81 hits during their five-game run and 98 hits in their last six games, going back to an 8-3 victory over Cincinnati on July 9, the last game before the All-Star break. Additionally, Chipper Jones was able to maintain a 20 game hitting streak and tie Paul Waner's 69 year old Major League record with a 14 game extra-base hit streak. (The Sporting News Baseball Record Book, 2007, p.29)

The Braves made their first trade of the season on July 20 to shore up the bullpen, sending Class A Rome catcher Max Ramirez to Cleveland for closer Bob Wickman. He served as the Braves' closer for the remainder of the season, taking over for an embattled Jorge Sosa, who was subsequently traded on the July 31 trade deadline for St. Louis minor league pitcher Rich Scalamandre.

On July 29, the Braves traded reserve third baseman/shortstop Wilson Betemit to the Los Angeles Dodgers for reliever Danys Baez and infielder Willy Aybar. The move came on the night that starting third baseman Chipper Jones went on the 15-day disabled list with a strained oblique muscle. With Betemit gone, the Atlanta called up infielder Tony Pena Jr. from AAA Richmond to supplement Pete Orr.

Before the expansion of rosters on September 1, the Braves acquired Daryle Ward from the Washington Nationals for Class A Myrtle Beach pitcher Luis Atilano, in hopes that he would be a valuable pinch-hitter in the postseason.

However, on September 18, the New York Mets' win over the Florida Marlins mathematically eliminated the Braves from winning the NL East, ending the Atlanta Braves eleven year reign over the NL East. On September 24, the Braves' loss to the Colorado Rockies mathematically eliminated the Braves from winning the NL Wild Card, making 2006 the first year that the Braves would not compete in the postseason since 1990, not counting the strike-shortened 1994 season.

Also, a loss to the Mets on September 28 guaranteed the Braves their first losing season since 1990. Although the Braves won two of their last three games against the Astros, including rookie Chuck James besting Roger Clemens, Atlanta finished the season in third place, one game ahead of the Marlins, at 79-83.

After the season, the Atlanta coaching staff underwent a few changes. Brian Snitker became the third base coach after Fredi Gonzalez left to become the manager for the Florida Marlins. Chino Cadahia replaced Pat Corrales as bench coach and former catcher Eddie Perez became the new bullpen coach, replacing Bobby Dews.

Sale to Liberty Media

In February 2007, after more than a year of negotiations, Time Warner agreed to a deal that would sell the Braves to Liberty Media Group (a company which owned a large amount of stock in Time Warner, Inc.), pending approval by 75 percent of MLB owners and the Commissioner of Baseball, Bud Selig. The deal included the exchange of the Braves, valued in the deal at $450 million, a hobbyist magazine publishing company, and $980 million cash, for 68.5 million shares of Time Warner stock held by Liberty Media, then worth approximately $1.48 billion. Team President Terry McGuirk anticipated no change in the current front office structure, personnel, or day-to-day operations of the Braves. Liberty Media is not expected to take any type of "active" ownership in terms of day to day operations.

On May 16, 2007, Major League Baseball's owners approved the sale of the Braves from Time Warner to Liberty Media.

2007: More struggles

The Braves made their first moves by re-signing Bob Wickman to a one year deal and picking up John Smoltz's option in September 2006. Then they traded starting pitcher Horacio Ramírez to the Seattle Mariners for pitcher Rafael Soriano, an American League reliever with a solid 2.20 ERA in 2006. They also denied arbitration to pitcher Chris Reitsma and second baseman Marcus Giles. Then the Braves signed utility-man Chris Woodward to fill a spot on the bench. The biggest trade in the offseason involved first baseman Adam LaRoche and a minor league player for Pittsburgh Pirates closer Mike Gonzalez and a minor league infielder, Brent Lillibridge. Gonzalez, who converted 24 of 24 save opportunities in 2006, joined Soriano as a set up man for Wickman in the bullpen. The team then signed first baseman Craig Wilson to a one year deal to platoon with Scott Thorman. The Braves also had solid relievers in Macay McBride, Blaine Boyer, and Tyler Yates. In addition, the majority of the Braves' offense, which was second in the NL in runs scored in 2006, returned in 2007. However, Mike Hampton was sidelined for the entire 2007 season with yet another surgery. Mike González was later sidelined for the season while recovering from Tommy John surgery.

The Braves' bullpen and offense came through in the clutch early on, helping the Braves to a 7-1 start, their best start since winning the World Series in 1995. The team finished April with a 16-9 record, but struggled during May, finishing 14-14. The Braves also struggled during interleague play, finishing with an NL-worst 4-11 record. On June 24, the Braves fell to .500 for the first time in the 2007 season, but rebounded by winning the next 5 games.

On July 5, Chipper Jones surpassed Dale Murphy for the Atlanta club record of 372 home runs by belting 2 against the Los Angeles Dodgers. On July 31, 2007, the Braves finalized the deal to acquire slugger first baseman Mark Teixeira and LHP Ron Mahay from the Texas Rangers for Jarrod Saltalamacchia and four minor-leaguers. The Braves also acquired Octavio Dotel from the Kansas City Royals for Kyle Davies and also traded LHP Wilfredo Ledezma and RHP Will Startup to the San Diego Padres for Royce Ring. On August 19, 2007 John Smoltz passed Phil Niekro for 1st place on the Braves' all-time strikeout list. After struggling during the second half of the 2007 season, Atlanta finished over .500 and missed the post season again. On October 12, 2007, John Schuerholz stepped aside from his General Manager position to take over as the team's president. Schuerholz's former Assistant GM Frank Wren took over as the new Atlanta General Manager.

2008

In December 2007, the team announced it would not re-sign center fielder Andruw Jones (who later would sign with the Dodgers). Another major move was acquiring CF Gorkys Hernandez and RHP Jair Jurrjens from the Detroit Tigers in exchange for SS Edgar Rentería and cash considerations. Next, LHP Tom Glavine was signed to a one-year contract. They also acquired LHP Will Ohman and INF Omar Infante from the Cubs in exchange for RHP Jose Ascanio.

The team's first new move for 2008 was acquiring OF Mark Kotsay from the A's (to replace Jones) in exchange for RHP Joey Devine, RHP Jamie Richmond and cash considerations. Days later, Wren traded Willy Aybar, outfielder Tom Lindsey, and infielder Chase Fontaine to the Rays in exchange for left-hand reliever Jeff Ridgway.

Before the trade deadline the Braves traded 1B Mark Teixeira to the Los Angeles Angels for Casey Kotchman.

Season records

This list only covers the franchise's season-by-season results while in Atlanta. For a full season-by-season list, see Atlanta Braves season records.|- |colspan="6"|
Atlanta Braves
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1966
|| 85 || 77 || 5th in NL || |- |
1967
|| 77 || 85 || 7th in NL || |- |
1968
|| 81 || 81 || 5th in NL || |- |
1969
|| 93 || 69 || 1st in NL West || Lost NLCS to New York Mets, 0-3. |- |
1970
|| 76 || 86 || 5th in NL West || |- |
1971
|| 82 || 80 || 3rd in NL West || |- |
1972
|| 70 || 84 || 4th in NL West || |- |
1973
|| 76 || 85 || 5th in NL West || |- |
1974
|| 88 || 74 || 3rd in NL West || |- |
1975
|| 67 || 94 || 5th in NL West || |- |
1976
|| 70 || 92 || 6th in NL West || |- |
1977
|| 61 || 101 || 6th in NL West || |- |
1978
|| 69 || 93 || 6th in NL West || |- |
1979
|| 66 || 94 || 6th in NL West || |- |
1980
|| 81 || 80 || 4th in NL West || |- |
1981
|| 50 || 56 || || |- |
1982
|| 89 || 73 || 1st in NL West || Lost NLCS to St. Louis Cardinals, 0-3. |- |
1983
|| 88 || 74 || 2nd in NL West || |- |
1984
|| 80 || 82 || 2nd in NL West || |- |
1985
|| 66 || 96 || 5th in NL West || |- |
1986
|| 72 || 89 || 6th in NL West || |- |
1987
|| 69 || 92 || 5th in NL West || |- |
1988
|| 54 || 106 || 6th in NL West || |- |
1989
|| 63 || 97 || 6th in NL West || |- |
1990
|| 65 || 97 || 6th in NL West || |- |
1991
|| 94 || 68 || 1st in NL West || Won NLCS vs Pittsburgh Pirates, 4-3.
Lost World Series to Minnesota Twins, 3-4. |- |
1992
|| 98 || 64 || 1st in NL West || Won NLCS vs Pittsburgh Pirates, 4-3.
Lost World Series to Toronto Blue Jays, 2-4. |- |
1993
|| 104 || 58 || 1st in NL West || Lost NLCS to Philadelphia Phillies, 2-4. |- |
1994
|| 68 || 46 || 2nd in NL East || No playoffs due to players' strike |- |
1995
|| 90 || 54 || 1st in NL East || Won NLDS vs Colorado Rockies, 3-1.
Won NLCS vs Cincinnati Reds, 4-0.
Won World Series vs Cleveland Indians, 4-2. |- |
1996
|| 96 || 66 || 1st in NL East || Won NLDS vs Los Angeles Dodgers, 3-0.
Won NLCS vs St. Louis Cardinals, 4-3.
Lost World Series to New York Yankees, 2-4. |- |
1997
|| 101 || 61 || 1st in NL East || Won NLDS vs Houston Astros, 3-0.
Lost NLCS vs Florida Marlins, 2-4. |- |
1998
|| 106 || 56 || 1st in NL East || Won NLDS vs Chicago Cubs, 3-0.
Lost NLCS vs San Diego Padres, 2-4. |- |
1999
|| 103 || 59 || 1st in NL East || Won NLDS vs Houston Astros, 3-1.
Won NLCS vs New York Mets, 4-2.
Lost World Series to New York Yankees, 0-4. |- |
2000
|| 95 || 67 || 1st in NL East || Lost NLDS to St. Louis Cardinals, 0-3. |- |
2001
|| 88 || 74 || 1st in NL East || Won NLDS vs Houston Astros, 3-0.
Lost NLCS to Arizona Diamondbacks, 1-4. |- |
2002
|| 101 || 59 || 1st in NL East || Lost NLDS to San Francisco Giants, 2-3. |- |
2003
|| 101 || 61 || 1st in NL East || Lost NLDS to Chicago Cubs, 2-3. |- |
2004
|| 96 || 66 || 1st in NL East || Lost NLDS to Houston Astros, 2-3. |- |
2005
|| 90 || 72 || 1st in NL East || Lost NLDS to Houston Astros, 1-3. |- |
2006
|| 79 || 83 || 3rd in NL East || |- || || 84 || 78 || 3rd in NL East || | |- |
2008
|| 72 || 90 || 4th in NL East || |- !Totals (1871-2008) || 9911 || 9788 || || |- !Playoffs || 79 || 79 || || |- !Playoff Series || 14 || 17 || || |}

  • 3 World Series Championships (1914, 1957, 1995)

Uniforms

The Braves currently have four uniforms. The first is a white home jersey with Braves written across the breastplate. The away jersey is gray with Atlanta written across the chest. Their alternate home jersey is a red jersey with Braves written across the chest. The red jerseys are only worn on Sunday home games, and they were worn the last time the Braves made the playoffs, in 2005. On opening night of the 2008 season against the Nationals, they debuted an alternate dark blue away jersey with Atlanta written in the same dark blue with white outline.

There are three hats that the Braves wear; the standard game hat is one worn with the white home and gray away jerseys and has a red brim and navy blue top with a white A on the front for Atlanta. The hat worn with the Red Jerseys is the same color scheme as the standard game hat but has a red A with a tomahawk across the A. The hat worn with the blue road jerseys has a navy blue top and brim with a white A on the front, similar to the team's away hat from 1966-1969. It is sometimes worn with the gray road jerseys. Also, the standard game hat has been worn with the blue road jersey.

Quick facts

  • Founded: 1871 in Boston, Massachusetts as the Boston Red Stockings, a charter member of the National Association. 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. Arguably, they can trace their ancestry to the original Cincinnati Red Stockings of 1869-1870, baseball's first openly professional team. When the N.A. formed, Cincinnati's backers declined to field a team in the new league, and Red Stockings player-manager Harry Wright along with three of the best players from that team moved collectively to Boston and took the nickname with them.
  • Formerly known as: Boston Braves (1912-1952), and Milwaukee Braves (1953-1965). Prior to 1912, the Boston team had several unofficial nicknames: "Red Stockings" and "Red Caps" 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", which was adopted in 1936, though it never really caught on, with Quinn even refusing to use it, although their home uniforms in this interval were changed to feature a large block letter B ("bee"). The team dropped the nickname in 1941, using only the official name "Braves" from 1941 on.
  • Ownership: Liberty Media
  • Team Colors: Navy, Scarlet, White, Gold (1987 through present); Royal Blue, Red, White (1970 through 1986); Navy, Red, White (1966 through 1969)
  • Logo design: The script word "Braves" above a tomahawk
  • Team mottos: "Atlanta's Pastime Since 1966" and "Welcome to the Bigs."
  • Spring Training Facility: The Ballpark at Disney's Wide World of Sports in Lake Buena Vista, Florida
  • Playoff appearances (20): 1914, 1948, 1957, 1958, 1969, 1982, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005
  • World Series Titles (3): 1914, 1957, 1995
  • National League Pennants Won (9): 1914, 1948, 1957, 1958, 1991, 1992, 1995, 1996, 1999
  • National Association pennants won (4): 1872, 1873, 1874, 1875
  • Official television stations: FSN South, SportSouth, WPCH-TV/Peachtree TV (Atlanta market, with simulcasts by CSS in the southeast US)
  • Official radio station: WUBL-FM, WGST (AM) (flagship)

Miscellaneous facts

  • Eddie Mathews is the only Braves player to have played for the organization in all three cities that they have been based in. Mathews played with the Braves for their last season in Boston, the team's entire tenure in Milwaukee, and the Braves' first season in Atlanta.
  • Until Barry Bonds eclipsed the 714 home runs hit by Babe Ruth, the top two home run hitters in Major League history had at one time been Braves. Henry Aaron spent most of his career as a Milwaukee and Atlanta Brave before asking to be traded to the Milwaukee Brewers, while Ruth finished his career as a Boston Brave.
  • Braves manager Bobby Cox now holds the all-time MLB record for most career ejections by a manager.

Retired numbers

As displayed at Turner Field:


Dale
Murphy

OF: 1976-90 ATL

Phil
Niekro

P: 1964-65 MIL
P: 1966-83,87 ATL

Hank
Aaron

OF: 1954-65 MIL
OF: 1966-74 ATL

Warren
Spahn

P: 1942-52 BOS
P: 1953-64 MIL

Eddie
Matthews

3B: 1952 BOS
3B: 1953-65 MIL
3B: 1966 ATL
Coach 1971-72
Manager: 1972-74

Jackie
Robinson

Retired by
Baseball

Baseball Hall of Famers

Boston Braves

Milwaukee Braves

Atlanta Braves

  • Affiliation according to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

Names in Bold Inducted as Braves
* Has no insignia on his cap or doesn't wear a cap due to either never wearing a cap, or playing at a time when caps bore no insignia.

Current roster

Minor league affiliates

Radio and television

After years of stability, the Braves are facing a period of transition in their radio and television coverage.

The 2007 season was the last for Braves baseball on the TBS Superstation. TBS showed 70 games throughout the country, then cleared the decks to make way for a new national broadcast package that will begin in earnest with the 2007 postseason, and will expand to Sunday afternoon games in 2008. Chip Caray, one of the Braves' current broadcasters, is expected to call play-by-play for the national package, which will include the Division Series every season and alternating coverage of the American League Championship Series and National League Championship Series. Braves baseball has been seen on TBS since it was WTCG in 1971 and has been a cornerstone of the national superstation since it began in 1976. WPCH-TV/Peachtree TV, formerly WTBS Atlanta, will still carry Braves games after this point, but only in parts of the Southern United States. The Comcast/Charter Sports Southeast cable sports network will also simulcast these games on cable systems throughout Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, and South Carolina, and outside of Metro Atlanta in Georgia.

After the 2004 season, longtime radio flagship station 750 WSB was replaced by WGST 640AM. Due to WGST's weak signal at night, which fails to cover the entire Atlanta metropolitan area, all games began to be simulcast on FM radio when the rights were transferred. The games first appeared on 96.1 WKLS (formerly "96rock") in 2005, but moved to country music station 94.9 WUBL ("94.9 The Bull") in 2007 after WKLS underwent a change in format from classic rock to active rock and became Project 9-6-1.

The Atlanta Braves radio network currently serves 152 radio stations across the Southern United States, including 19 in Alabama, 5 in Florida, 71 in Georgia, 4 in Mississippi, 18 in North Carolina, 14 in South Carolina, 15 in Tennessee, 1 in the U.S. Virgin Islands, 2 in Virginia, and 2 in West Virginia.

In addition to Chip Caray, the other broadcasters are Pete Van Wieren, Joe Simpson, and Jon Sciambi. Don Sutton was released after the 2006 season and is now a broadcaster with the Washington Nationals. Longtime Braves voice Skip Caray was the primary play-by-play voice of Braves baseball until his sudden death on August 3, 2008. Pete Van Wieren is now the team's primary voice.

Van Wieren does all 162 regular season games on radio, and was working alongside Skip Caray until his death. Chip Caray, Joe Simpson, Jon Sciambi and Mark Lemke have also teamed up with Van Wieren on radio broadcasts during 2007. Chip Caray works all games carried on TBS. Simpson is the color commentator for all games he does on TV.

Braves games can also be seen on FSN South and SportSouth (which changed its name from Turner South shortly after the 2006 baseball season ended). Jon Sciambi is the play-by-play announcer and Simpson is the color commentator.

See also

References

External links


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