The Atlanta Braves have come a long way since their humble beginnings as the Boston Red Stockings. They’ve seen cities, stadiums, owners, players and even team names come and go through a revolving door. The Braves have had high points, like winning the World Series, and low points, like devastating playoff losses and seasons with few highlights.
Since the announcement that the Braves will be moving to Cobb in 2017, we’ve learned what the future of the team appears to be. But let’s take a quick look back and see how they ended up at Turner Field and the history they’ll always carry with them.
It all started in 1871 when Ivers Whitney Adams and Harry Wright incorporated the Boston Red Stockings with $15,000. They became one of nine charter members of the National Association of Professional Baseball Players. They won six of the first eight pennants in all of baseball history, setting the tone for the future of the franchise.
The National League started in 1876. On April 22, the Boston Red Stockings defeated the Philadelphia Athletics in the first ever National League game. It ended with two runs in the ninth inning and a final score of 6-5.
In 1883, the team changed names to form stronger ties with Boston. The new name, Boston Beaneaters, also made it easier to differentiate themselves from the Cincinnati Red Stockings. This same year, the Beaneaters, once again, won the NL pennant.
Between 1884 and 1906, the team had their ups and downs. Most notably, Mike “King” Kelly, the most famous player of the time, earned a $10,000 paycheck. This whooping sum of money shocked baseball fans all around the country.
In 1907, the Beaneaters changed names to reflect the change in ownership. The new owners, the Dovey brothers, decide on the intimidating name of the Boston Doves.
After the passing of one of the Dovey brothers, the team was sold to William Hepburn Russell, who changed the team name to the Boston Rustlers in 1909.
Just a few years later, in 1912, the team earned the nickname the Boston Braves, a name that stuck around for some time. It was coined by Johnny Montgomery Ward, also known as Monte Ward, former professional baseball player and, at the time, part owner of the Boston Braves.
The ‘Miracle’ Braves won the World Series in 1914 after starting the season 4-18. They swept Philadelphia in four games to take home the crown. It’s a story that gives hope to fans who doubt their team at the start of a rocky season.
Between 1915 and 1935, the team switched ownership a couple of times. In 1915 it was for the steep price of $500,000. That won’t get you one veteran player for half of a season anymore. Babe Ruth also finished his career with the Braves during this time. He hit his 714th home run but held only a .181 batting average in his final season.
In 1936, the Braves fans decided to change the name to the Bees and their stadium was referred to as the “Beehive." Thankfully, this name only stuck around for five years and fans haven’t felt the need to press management to change it back ever since.
1953 was a year of big changes for the Braves. They moved to Milwaukee because of a declining fan base in Boston, and Braves owner, Lou Perini, had promised to help Milwaukee find a baseball team. It certainly didn’t hurt that the Braves’ highest ranked minor league team was also in the area. The following season, the Braves tried their luck on a rookie named Hank Aaron and never looked back.
A few seasons later, the Braves, with the help of Aaron, Wes Covington and Bob Hazle, beat the Yankees in the 1957 World Series. The Braves find eight more successful seasons, including another World Series appearance in 1958 and multiple pennants, in Milwaukee before heading to Atlanta.
The move was largely due to the lack in fan support. In 1961, there were just over one million tickets sold for the season. Not the turnout the Braves front office expected for the team with three solid playoff performances in a row.
While the Braves were looking for a new city to call home, Atlanta offered to pay $18 million for a new stadium. The city was growing quickly and wanted to put themselves on the map as one of the country’s largest. The Braves took little convincing to pack their bags and head down south.
The move to Atlanta wasn’t nearly as simple as the move from Boston. Wisconsin didn’t want to see the team leave. The city of Milwaukee filed injunctions and court orders to keep the team from leaving. As we all know, the team eventually made it out of Milwaukee and onto their new home in Atlanta, where they were welcomed with a parade in 1966.
Because there weren’t any other major league teams in the surrounding area, the Braves acquired fans from far and near. Atlanta baseball was televised on TBS and quickly became the beloved home team for much of the southeast. They were known as “America’s Team” and wore new red, white and blue uniforms to reflect the nickname.
The Atlanta Braves, unfortunately, lost their first home game in Atlanta Stadium to the Pittsburgh Pirates. The stadium later became known as Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, which was the home of many great memories for the Braves. Their years included Aaron breaking the home run record, hosting an All-Star game and Ted Turner purchasing the team in 1975.
Ted Turner owned the Atlanta Braves and decided to become the team manager during a 17-game losing streak. After just one game, Commissioner Bowie Kuhn told Turner he couldn’t own stock in a team if he managed it.
Although managing may not be one of things Turner brought the Braves, he helped the team win 18 consecutive pennant races and became the namesake of their new home following the Olympics in 1996, Turner Field.
Turner Field has housed Bobby Cox, Chipper Jones, Brian McCann and now the young stars Freddie Freeman and Jason Heyward. Many more notable names could be included but the list would be never ending.
While a chapter in Braves history may be coming to a close in the next few years, the name on their ball caps and jerseys won’t let the fans forget where they came from.
Historical facts courtesy of braves.com, The Washington Times and SB Nation.