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Atlanta Braves History: Joe Adcock hits a blast to center field at the Polo Grounds (1953)

February 13, 2012 Leave a comment

Some things aren’t easy. This was one of them. On April 29, 1953, Joe Adcock becomes the first ML player to homer into the Center Field bleacher seats in the Polo Grounds‚ over 475 feet away. His homer in the 3rd‚ with Pafko on‚ came off a Jim Hearn fast ball. Luke Easter‚ in a 1948 Negro League game‚ and Schoolboy Rowe‚ in batting practice before a 1933 exhibition game‚ also accomplished the feat.

Lou Brock and Hank Aaron will match it is as well in 1962. The Braves won the game 3-2 on a 9th-inning knuckler by Hoyt Wilhelm that eludes Sal Yvars for a wild pitch. Billy Bruton’s perfect throw cuts down Monte Irvin for the final out. After the game‚ manager Charlie Grimm buys Adcock’s homer for $25 from the fan who caught it. I wonder how much that is worth today?

The Year (1948)

How long would the Braves wait patiently under Billy Southworth for a pennant? 1948 was the year. The Braves finished in first with a record of 91-62, 6 & 1/2 games ahead.

The reward came to “Spahn and Sain and pray for rain.” It was a long draught. Not since 1914 had they come in first. And, it was almost an all-Boston World Series.

Like picking horses (1969)

Billy Southworth was considered a “genious on the diamond”.

He lived a long life. At age 76, in 1969, he died in Columbus, Ohio. He had emphysema. What is said at the funeral is always a tribute. One of Billy’s former players on the 1948 Braves was there. He was Clint Conatser. Here is his tribute.

“He just had a gut feeling about the right thing to do in a situation,” Conatser recalled. “The moves he would make would work for him — all the time, not occasionally. Leo Durocher was the same way. It’s like some guys can pick horses out of nowhere. Southworth was a genius like that on the diamond.”

Tommy Holmes (1951)

Tommy Holmes had his Major League baseball debut with the Boston Braves in 1942. Here is some background on him.

  • He was an outfielder. He batted and threw as a lefty.
  • He was born (March 29, 1917) in Brooklyn. No wonder he wanted to play baseball.
  • His last game was for his home team Brooklyn Dodgers in 1952.
  • He managed the Braves in 1951 and 1952.
  • He was a two time All-Star in 1945 and 1948

He died in 2010 in Boca Raton, Florida at the ripe old age of 91. May he rest in peace.

The Brat (Eddie Stanky)

What happens when “The Brat” slides into “The Bull”? The Brat breaks his ankle and that is what happened to Eddie Stanky when he slid into third against Brooklyn’s Bruce “The Bull” Edwards on July 8, 1948. That ended the season for him.

Eddie played for the Braves in 1948 and 1949. Eddie was born on September 3,1916 in Philadelphia. He was a very good second baseman for the Dodgers. So much so, when the Braves needed a good middle fielded, Owner Lou Perini brought him onto the club. Manager Billy Southworth agreed that if they were going to make a run for first, they needed strength at second. With a rookie Al Dark at short, they needed a sure hand. Too bad his 1948 season would be so short.

Billy Southworth as a Brave (1946)

Billy Southworth moved to manage the Boston Braves in 1946. At the time, making $50,000 as a manager was a big deal. He had some fairly quick success. Fourth in 1946. Third in 1947. First in 1948. Of course, it probably didn’t hurt that he had Warren Spahn and Johnny Sain pitching for him. They won their second NL pennant in the 1900’s under his great leadership. They were defeated however in the 1948 World Series in six games by the Cleveland Indians.

In 1949 many of the players rebelled against Southworth’s rules, regulations, and leadership. The Braves struggled on the field. The rumor mill had Southworth, an admitted achoholic, drinking heavily and near a nervous breakdown. So, in August Southworth turned the Braves over to someone else. Johnny Cooney, another Braves coach, took over. Southworth did come back to coach the Braves in 1950. It would be easier on him because most of the rebellious Braves had been traded away.

But the team was “older”. Attendance was in the toilet. In 1951 the Braves were barely 28-31 by June 19th. Part of the issue was probably competition. The Boston Red Sox was agressively going after the fans. This was the first year they both broadcast their games on the radio. It only paid off for the Red Sox though. Billy Southworth did the honorable thing. He “resigned”. Most reports have him being fired. He was replaced by a former right fielder, Tommy Holmes. He did remain with the Braves as a scout. Not uncommon. He never managed again. In 1953 the Boston Braves became the Milwaukee Braves. Go figure.

Born in Havana (1917)

Johnny Sain was born in Havana. It was 1917. OK, it wasn’t Cuba. But today in baseball that wouldn’t be unheard of. It was Arkansas. He is best known for teaming up with Warren Spahn on the Boston Braves. He was with the Braves from 1946 to 1951.

Here are a couple of quick highlights:

  • Born September 25, 1917 in Havana, Arkansas.
  • Died November 7, 2006.
  • A right handed pitcher.
  • MVP in 1948 in the Braves’ pennant winning season. He led the NL in wins, complete games and innings pitched.
  • He later became one the top pitching coaches in the majors.
  • Pitched for 11 years. He won 136 games. He lost 116. His combined ERA was 3.49.
  • His best years were after World War II. He won 100 games for the Braves.
  • He was traded to the New York Yankees (Boo Hiss!!!) in 1951.

Probably too bad much of his good stuff is lost against the backdrop of Warren Spahn but he was great.

Sain / Spahn poem (1948)

It is Labor Day in 1948. The Braves are on a pennant drive. The swept a Labor Day doubleheader. Spahn threw a complete 14 inning win in the opener. Sain, not to be outdone, threw a shutout in the second game. After two days off, it rained. Spahn won the next day. Sain won the day after that. Three days later what happened? Spahn won again. Sain won the next day.

So they take a day off. They both come back for a doubleheader. They both win. They went, 8-0 in twelve days.

Don’t you just love baseball. And so, they inspired this 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.

Back to back (1958)

January 11, 2011 Leave a comment

The ability to sustain success in baseball can be a challenge. The Braves saw that over the years. In 1897 – 1898 they saw back to back championships. 1914 was a miracle but nothing to speak of in 1915. 1948 was a great pennant year but nothing in 1949.

And so, in 1958 the Braves equaled there greatness of 1957. They had a 92-62 year finishing first, 8 games up. Fred Haney was in his third year as manager.

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