Our History Part II: A Look at Atlanta Braves' Top Ten Moments

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Our History Part II: A Look at Atlanta Braves' Top Ten Moments
Rick Stewart/Getty Images

The following is the second part of five in a special series.

A fortnight ago we embarked on a top ten list counting down to the greatest Atlanta Braves moment. For most Braves fans the list starts out with two of the most obvious moments in Braves history: the franchise moving to Atlanta and Ted Turner's move of broadcasting the Braves on TBS.

In this article we will take a look at moments eight through six, their impact on the franchise, and why they should be remembered.

 

8: First we'll use Spahn...

The Milwaukee Braves defeat the Yankees in seven in 1957

In 1957 the Braves fielded one of the best teams in franchise history that wasn't in the '90s. The then Milwaukee Braves, led by Lew Burdette and Hank Aaron, defeated the New York Yankees in seven games to win their second World Series title.

The '50s were dominated by Mickey Mantle and the Yankees as evidenced by their six world titles in the decade. Milwaukee became the first team to win a world series in the '50s that didn't hail from New York and was only one of two teams (the other being the Dodgers after they moved to L.A.) to accomplish this honor.

Milwaukee pitcher Lew Burdette went perfect in the series going 3-0 against the Yankees and he also went the entire distance in all three games. Burdette's three complete games culminated with a shutout in game seven at Yankee Stadium. On top of it all Burdette pitched his gem on only two days rest.

When asked if his arm would hold up Burdette jokingly said, "I'll be all right. In 1953 I once relieved in 16 games out of 22. I'm bigger, stronger, and dumber now."

Hank Aaron led the offensive drive in the series. Hammerin' Hank hit an astonishing .393 in the series with seven RBI and three HR.

The Braves became the first franchise to win a world series after relocating to a different city. The franchise was also drawing big crowds in Milwaukee. The Braves ultimately proved to be a prototype case to see if teams could succeed and be profitable if they moved west.

A year later in 1958 both the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants would move to California seeking greener pastures while ripping the proverbial hearts out of their respective  boroughs. The Braves' success in Milwaukee paved the way for the western expansion of Major League Baseball.

 

7: From worst to first

Atlanta achieves the impossible in 1991

Atlanta's miracle 1991 season culminated in arguably the greatest World Series ever played. Two teams, bottom dwellers the year before, surged upwards in the standings and faced each other in the 1991 World Series. Both the Braves and Minnesota Twins went from worst to first and the series was decided in an extra-inning game seven walk off with a Twins victory.

Naturally a heart breaking world series loss is usually forgotten, but under the circumstances Braves fans remember the '91 series as if they actually won it and with good reason.

It wasn't supposed to happen, not to a bona fide perennial loser like the Braves whose record in Atlanta was 1,838-2,137 (.462) before the 1991 season. An old story about the Braves' futility in the '80s goes like this: In Atlanta you could park your car with two Braves tickets sitting on the windshield and when you came back out to it instead of finding two tickets you would discover four tickets sitting there.

Nevertheless against impossible odds the Braves became National League champions in 1991. The year started out acquiring Sid Bream, Deion Sanders, and Terry Pendleton. Pendleton would prove invaluable down the stretch hitting .319 with 22 HR. Pendleton's career year garnered him National League MVP honors for the 1991 year.

Atlanta's pitching was also top notch. Tom Glavine won the Cy Young and 20 games in 1991. Glavine was supported by Charlie Leibrant, John Smoltz, and Steve Avery. The year was the beginning of a pitching nucleus that would last through the decade.

Braves fans remember 1991 as the year which started it all. Atlanta would not lose a division title until 2006. During this time period Atlanta won five National League championships and won the 1995 World Series.

The miracle of 1991 also uplifted the city of Atlanta. People were literally dancing in the streets after the NLCS and swarms of fans crowded into the airport to see the team off as it flew to Minnesota for game one in the World Series.

Atlanta played hard in the series and it is one that will be remembered forever. The home team never lost, five games were decided by one run, three games went into extra innings, and the final two games were decided by walk offs.

A player worth mentioning is Mark Lemke who batted an astronomical .417, was the hero of game three, and tied the world series' record for triples. Lemke gave his heart and soul to the team. To this day if you see the Lemmer at Turner Field for the pre-game radio broadcast you'll see him wearing proudly the rock of a 1995 World Series ring on his finger.

Of course none of this could have never happened if it weren't for this next man...

 

6: Billionaire Ted

Ted Turner buys the team and makes it successful

Discussed in a previous article (http://bleacherreport.com/articles/309493-call-me-the-owner-why-the-braves-need-ted-turner-back), Ted Turner became the savior of professional sports in Atlanta. Turner bought the Braves mainly to keep the franchise in Atlanta.

In order to drive revenue and interest in the team, Turner broadcast the team on his TBS network. The Braves experienced a renaissance in the '90s and it is much indebted to Ted Turner. Once the team began to win in the '90s, Turner made sure Atlanta would get the best talent money could buy.

The Braves were revamped in the '90s with its player talent and also its new stadium. Turner was a key player in building Centennial Olympic Stadium and then converting it into a ball park aptly named Turner Field.

In addition Turner gave the Braves franchise a face and he became a fan's owner. The current owners of the team, Liberty Media, are much maligned because they appear to have no interaction with the team and lack that "Southern touch" Turner used as owner. Turner calmed down with his antics over the years (such as managing a game against the Pirates) and became a father-like figure for the team and fans.

Turner also loved to mingle and please the crowd. Instead of sitting in skyboxes during the games, Turner sat front row right beside the dugout, often cheering the team on with a tomahawk in hand. He made Turner Field one of the more fan-friendly and fan-interactive stadiums in baseball. An example would be the "dollar seats" at the Ted, which are available at $1 every game, including playoff games.

The franchise would be a different animal if it weren't for Turner and may not even be in Atlanta at all if it weren't for him. For that, Braves fans give their thanks and gratitude to him.

*   *   *

Halfway through the list and we have gone through many great moments in Braves baseball. It could be argued number seven could be much farther up on list but with so many moments there will be upsets and disagreements. To find out, keep reading...

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