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Atlanta Braves History: Six Braves hit 20 home runs in the season (September 20, 2003)

When Marcus Giles sends Brad Penny’s 3-2 pitch into the stands on September 20, 2003, the Atlanta Braves tie the National League record (held by the Milwaukee Braves) by having six players to hit at least 20 home runs in season. Along with the Atlanta’s second baseman, Javy Lopez, Gary Sheffield, Andruw Jones, Chipper Jones and Vinny Castilla.

This equals the mark established by Eddie Mathews (32), Hank Aaron (32), Joe Torre (27), Felipe Alou (23) Mack Jones (31) and Gene Oliver (21) of the 1965 Milwaukee Braves.

Atlanta Braves History: The Triumvirs and the reserve clause (1877)

1877 was pretty good for the Braves (then known as the Boston Red Stockings). They were 42-18 and ended in first. Arthur H. Soden is not a household name these days. He became one in 1877. He headed a group of three men who bought the Braves. The two other partners were William Conant and James Billings. Soden served as President of the club a long time, 30 years to be correct. He and the other two became known as the Triumvirs. If you know ancient history, that would be Caesar, Pompey and Crassus.

Some things last a long time. One of them was what was known as the “reserve clause” in baseball. It lasted almost 100 years. Soden is the man who wrote it into the leagues by-laws. It bound a player to his club no matter what. There was no such thing as “free agency” then. Even if another team wanted to pay them more, they couldn’t go unless their current team traded them. Of course, the “Four Seceders” had a little to do with that. The reserve clause wasn’t in place yet that year when manager Harry Wright decided that Tommy Bond should replace his pitcher Joseph Borden and the Joseph should be a groundskeeper.

In October 1969, St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Curt Flood challenged his trade to the Philadelphia Phillies. Flood sacrificed the remainder of his playing career to pursue this litigation. Flood’s case established that the reserve clause was a legitimate basis for negotiation in collective bargaining between players and owners, and that the historic baseball antitrust exemption was valid for baseball only and not applicable to any other sport.

Removing the reserve clause from player contracts became the primary goal of negotiations between the Major League Baseball Players Association and the owners. The reserve clause was struck down in 1975 when arbitrator Peter Seitz ruled that since pitchers Andy Messersmith and Dave McNally played for one season without a contract, they could become free agents. This decision essentially dismantled the reserve clause and opened the door to widespread free agency.

Atlanta Braves History: Rabbit Maranville starts at $125 a month (1911)

The third of five children, Walter James Vincent Maranville (Rabbit) was born on November 11, 1891, in Springfield, Massachusetts. His mother was Irish but his father and the Maranville name were French. Walter (then known as “Stumpy” or “Bunty“) attended the Charles Street and Chestnut Street grammar schools and played catcher during his one year at Technical High.

His father, a police officer, allowed him to leave school if he apprenticed for a trade, so at age 15 he quit to become a pipe fitter and tinsmith. To his father’s dismay, Walter devoted less attention to his apprenticeship than he did to baseball. He was playing shortstop for a semipro team in 1911 when Tommy Dowd, manager of the New Bedford Whalers of the New England League, signed him to a contract for $125 per month.

The 19-year-old shortstop batted .227 and committed 61 errors in 117 games. Not sure if that was worth the $125 a month or not.

Atlanta Braves History: The Braves snag Billy Southworth (1921)

In January of 1921, the Braves finally snagged Billy Southworth — one of three Pirates traded to Boston, with $15,000, for Rabbit Maranville. Billy wasn’t happy to be moving from a winning team to a loser. But he wound up signing a contract a few days later and was named captain of the team.

Southworth hit .308 for Boston that year. He was limited to 43 games in ’22 due to a dislocated knee, but in 1923 he accumulated a career-high 611 at-bats and hit for a .319 average. After the season, however, he was part of a trade with the Giants. It was a multiplayer deal, with Casey Stengel coming to Boston along with Dave Bancroft and Bill Cunningham in exchange for Southworth and hurler Joe Oeschger.

John McGraw had coveted Southworth since 1921, according to New York Times sportswriter Arthur Daley. But he waited until Billy had demonstrated that he had recovered from his knee injury.

Atlanta Braves History: Dale Murphy hits 3 home runs in 3 at bats (May 18, 1979)

August 4, 2012 1 comment

Dale Murphy, on May 18, 1979,  has 3 home runs in 3 at bats‚ knocking in 5 runs‚ to pace the Braves to a 6-4 victory over the Giants.

Dale shows that he can be an impact player. Great things would come for him over and over again. Pretty amazing.

Atlanta Braves History: Joe Adcock and Al Sprangler help Phillie lose 20 in a row (August 17, 1961)

August 2, 2012 1 comment

This is not the kind of record you want. On August 17, 1961, Philadelphia lost 20 in a row, a Major League record. It took 11 innings at County Stadium but they lost to the Milwaukee Braves 7-6. Al Sprangler singled home the winner.

This had to be discouraging since they had a 6-4 lead in the 8th when Joe Adcock slams a 2-run homer off Art Mahaffey to tie.

Atlanta Braves History: Chipper Jones names his son Shea (August 30, 2004)

August 1, 2012 1 comment

Now this is rich. Chipper Jones and his wife, Sharon, welcome their second child into the world on August 30, 2004, a 7 pounds, 14 ounces son.

The couple names the boy Shea, as a tribute to the New York ballpark where the Braves‘ third baseman has enjoyed tremendous success against the Mets. I can still envision games where they taunted Chipper by repeatedly calling him “Larry”, his Christian name.

You have to love this.

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