45 things to know about Bartolo Colon on his 45th birthday

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Bartolo was briefly a Braves pitcher in 2017. I’ve always enjoyed seeing him pitch. Now I get to see him here in Texas.

On June 27, 2002, Colon was traded from the Cleveland Indians to the Montreal Expos, who fancied themselves contenders for the National League wild card and NL East races despite deficits of 5 and 6.5 games respectively at the end of the day.

Bartolo has bounced around a lot. Of course, the Braves released him in 2018. Here is the list (courtesy of Wikipedia):

Here is a great tribute to him on his 45th birthday.

Bartolo Colon turns 45 today. In honor of his birthday, here are 45 things you need to know about one of the most improbable careers in recent history.

1. He’s 45 years old! But you knew that already since I just mentioned it. You can probably guess that it’s pretty unusual for a 45-year-old to be pitching in the majors. Once he makes his first post-birthday outing, Colon will become just the 16th MLB pitcher since 1900 age 45 or older. How old is he? Gleyber Torres of the Yankees homered twice off him Monday. Torres was 3 months old when Colon made his major league debut in 1997.

2. Colon has 242 wins. That’s a lot of wins! That puts him 55th on the all-time list and 25th since 1950. He’s one win from tying Juan Marichal for the most by a Dominican pitcher and three from tying Dennis Martinez for the most by a Latin American pitcher. The Rangers pitcher, who turns 45 today, has changed quite a bit since breaking into the big leagues with the Indians in 1997.Are the Angels using Ohtani correctly? So far, the planets have aligned for L.A. and its two-way star.The divide between haves and have-nots could be historic. But some teams that tore it down are tearing it up. Others? Not so much.

3. He didn’t play organized baseball until he was 14. In a 2015 profile in the New York Times, Colon said he learned his work ethic from his pet donkey, Pancho, whom he used to ride to the baseball field. Colon later built a training complex for young players in his hometown of El Copey and memorialized Pancho with an illustration on a wall of the complex.

4. Colon signed with the Indians in 1993 for $3,000 — only after he was sent home three times after tryouts with the Indians and told he was too short. The Dodgers and Royals told him the same thing. (So says one profile of Colon; others make no mention of the initial rejections.) When he first signed, the Indians insisted Colon was 18, not 20. His real age was exposed in 2002.

5. With his blazing fastball, Colon rose quickly through the minors, and Baseball America ranked him as the No. 14 prospect heading into his rookie season in 1997. He was squeezed between Scott Rolen (final major league season: 2012) and Derrek Lee (final season: 2011) and was the fourth-best pitching prospect. Ahead of him: Kerry Wood (No. 3), Matt White (No. 4) and Kris Benson (No. 8).

Source: MLB — 45 things to know about Bartolo Colon on his 45th birthday

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Chipper Jones’s Last Year Video Highlights (2012)

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Here are some great video highlights from Chipper’s last year in 2012.

On March 22, 2012, the Braves announced that Jones would retire following the 2012 season, after 19 major league seasons with the team. Following the announcement, a fan tribute song called “The Chipper Jones Song” was featured in a number of sports blogs.

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A Non-Apology Apology from John Schuerholz to Tom Glavine (June 9, 2009)

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Tom Glavine

John Schuerholz publicly apologizes to Tom Glavine for the club’s handling of the southpaw’s release on June 5, 2009.

The Braves’ president, who chose not to give the future Hall of Famer a million dollar bonus by adding him to the 25-man roster, doesn’t regret the decision, but for “the manner in which it was portrayed and explained” to the veteran pitcher.

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Braves release third baseman Jose Bautista (May 20, 2018)

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Image result for bautista bravesThe Braves ended the Jose Bautista experiment when the veteran third baseman was released before Sunday afternoon’s game against the Marlins.

With Bautista gone, executive vice president and general manager Alex Anthopoulos said Johan Camargo will be the everyday third baseman.

Bautista, 37, hit the free-agent market following a disappointing 2017 season with the Blue Jays and remained unsigned until the Braves gave him a Minor League deal in April. The two-time American League Hank Aaron Award winner was hoping to establish himself as Atlanta’s third baseman for the remainder of this season.

Bautista’s bid steadily fizzled, as he hit .143 (5-for-35) with two home runs and 12 strikeouts. He has batted .136 against right-handed pitchers dating back to last year’s All-Star break.

Who DIDN’t vote for Chipper Jones?

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The truth comes out. There are 250 votes made public for the Hall of Fame. He got 97.2% of the votes. 410 voted for him. 12 did not.

Watch it and weep.

Two years ago, Ken Griffey Jr. became the first former No. 1 overall draft pick to be elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame. The induction ended a strange streak for the sport. Since 1965, only one of the 53 top picks in the draft reached Cooperstown, and only four have even reached 50 career wins above replacement (per Baseball Reference).

Jones will join “The Kid” on the abbreviated list — with Alex Rodriguez’s numbers warranting a spot in a few years.

And after that? Joe Mauer has a quiet case and Bryce Harper is building one, but it could be a long time until Griffey and Jones have company here.

Carl Crawford steals his sixth base of the game to become the fourth major leaguer to accomplish the feat (May 3, 2009)

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Image result for otis nixon baseballIn the eighth inning of the Rays’ 5-3 victory over the Boston Red Sox on May 3, 2009, Carl Crawford steals his sixth base of the game to become the fourth major leaguer to accomplish the feat.

The 27 year-old perennial American League stolen base champ joins Eddie Collins (twice 1912 – A’s ), Otis Nixon (Braves – 1991), and Eric Young (Rockies – 1996) as the only players to pilfer a half dozen bags in a contest since 1900. Continue reading

Braves run out of baseballs, Babe Ruth strikes out and the game is called in the 7th! (April 5, 1935)

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Image result for Olney Ray FreemanThe Boston Braves, returning north from spring training on April 5, 1935, beat North Carolina State College, 6-2, in a contest called in the seventh inning because the teams run out baseballs, having used the 100 put aside for the game.

Collegiate southpaw Olney Ray Freeman strikes out a 40 year-old Babe Ruth on a two-strike curveball, a feat the lefty would brag about until his death in 2008. Continue reading

The Braves Got Hot Fast, And They Might Stay That Way (2018 Season)

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Is this a huge step for an Atlanta club still trying to fill seats in its shiny new suburban stadium? These aren’t the old Greg Maddux/Tom Glavine/John Smoltz Braves, of course, but there’s real potential building in Atlanta right now.

With all the attention on prospect Ronald Acuña Jr. going into the season, Albies was the one who got off to the red-hot start while Acuña was toiling in the minors (thanks to some service-time chicanery by the Atlanta front office). Now that Acuña and Albies are both in the majors together, the Braves have one of the most exciting young position-player duos we’ve seen in a long time.

Not only were Acuña and Albies the two youngest players in MLB at the time Acuña was called up, but the duo also became the youngest pair of teammates to homer in the same game since 1978 when each went yard against the Reds on April 26.

We’ll have to see where it takes the team — and how long it takes before the sabermetric indicators pick up on it.

If you are Braves baseball stat geek, you’ll love this article.

The Atlanta Braves are, as they say, “ahead of schedule.” Going into the season, we commended their young talent base but gave them just a 15 percent shot at making the playoffs, figuring that they’d need another year of rebuilding before truly making the leap toward contention. Fast-forward a month, however, and Atlanta is blowing away those expectations: Against a difficult schedule, the Braves are 19-11 and occupy first place in the NL East — one and a half games clear of the New York Mets, who they just swept in a three-game series. So far, at least, the Braves’ future appears to be now.

Source: The Braves Got Hot Fast, And They Might Stay That Way | FiveThirtyEight

 

Mike Soroka quiets Mets in sharp MLB debut (May 1, 2018)

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What an exciting game! Oh my! I love it when the Braves whoop up on the Mets. This was a classic.

The Braves continued to ride the kids. Yes, Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna Jr. continue to prosper on the field. But this time, it was right-hander Mike Soroka, who turned in a gem of a start in his Major League debut for Atlanta, pitching six sharp innings to help the Braves top the Mets, 3-2, at Citi Field on May 1.

At this point in the season, the Braves have won five out of their last six games and improved their record to 17-11. They are only a half-game behind the first-place Mets in the National League East.

Before the game, Braves manager Brian Snitker and catcher Kurt Suzuki talked about how polished Soroka, 20, looked on the mound. The Mets don’t disagree, as the Braves’ No. 3 prospect per MLB Pipeline held New York to six hits and struck out five batters.

“It’s not like it shocked me,” Snitker said about Soroka’s performance. “I saw him in Spring Training and he is a very poised, mature [pitcher]. I watched the game the other day on the computer when he went seven innings [in a Minor League game]. He looked like he relaxed out there doing his thing.

New York only touched Soroka in the bottom of the sixth inning, when Yoenis Cespedes hit a solo homer over the left-field wall.

“He threw a lot of strikes. Anytime you keep the count in your favor, you’re going to pitch good,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. “At one point, he threw 27 strikes in 35 pitches. If you do that, you’re going to have success.”

Soroka said he stopped being nervous once he was able to get an at-bat in the top of the first inning before he even took the mound. It was smooth sailing after that.

“I got the jitters out of the way. It kind felt like another inning after that. I executed pitch one and went from there,” Soroka said. “It’s truly amazing to be with this team. They have been a really fun team to watch for the last month.”

Soroka wasn’t the only young buck on the Braves who shined on Tuesday. The two A’s — Albies and Acuna — helped the Braves get to an early 3-0 lead off right-hander Noah Syndergaard in the top of the first inning.

 

 

John Smoltz Talks Chipper Jones, Baseball Hall of Fame

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Former Atlanta Braves hurler John Smoltz joined Dukes & Bell to talk about the upcoming Hall of Fame announcement and Chipper Jones, who is a first-ballot entrant.

You’d also be interested to hear who Smoltz believes has egregiously been left out of the HOF.

 

Hank Aaron hits first home run of his MLB career (April 23, 1954)

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Hank Aaron

On April 23, 1954, Hank Aaron knocks out the first home run of his Major League Baseball career. Twenty years later, Aaron becomes baseball’s new home run king when he broke Babe Ruth’s long-standing record of 714 career homers.

A native of Mobile, Alabama, Aaron began his professional baseball career in 1952 in the Negro League and joined the Milwaukee Braves of the major leagues in 1954, eight years after Jackie Robinson had integrated baseball. Aaron was the last Negro League player to compete in the majors. He played his first game with the Braves on April 13 and went hitless in his five times at bat. Two days later, he got his first hit, a single, in a game against the St. Louis Cardinals, and on April 23, 1954, pounded out his first major league home run off Cardinals’ pitcher Vic Raschi.

Aaron quickly established himself as an important player for the Braves and won the National League batting title in 1956. The following season, he took home the league’s MVP award and helped the Braves beat Mickey Mantle and the heavily favored New York Yankees in the World Series.

In 1959, Aaron won his second league batting title. Season after season, he turned in strong batting performances: “Hammerin’ Hank” hit .300 or higher for 14 seasons and slugged at least 40 homers in eight separate seasons. In May 1970, he became the first player in baseball to record 500 homers and 3,000 hits.

The achievement Aaron is best known for, though, is breaking Babe Ruth’s record of 714 career home runs, which he did on April 8, 1974, at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, when he hit his 715th home run in the fourth inning of a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Aaron played for the Milwaukee Braves from 1954 to 1965 and then moved with the team to Atlanta in 1966. On February 29, 1972, the Atlanta Braves signed Aaron to a three-year, $200,000 per year contract that made him baseball’s best-paid player. In November 1974, the Braves traded Aaron to the Milwaukee Brewers, where he spent the final two seasons of his career. Aaron retired from baseball in 1976 with 755 career home runs, a record that stood until August 7, 2007, when it was broken by Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants.

 

Jose Bautista agrees to minor league deal with Atlanta Braves, will play 3B

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This is some interesting news. Jose Bautista has joined the Atlanta Braves, who plan to use the veteran slugger at third base. This is a low risk investment that could pay off in a big way if he can play another year or two.

Under the minor league deal announced April 18, Bautista would receive a $1 million, one-year contract if added to the 40-man major league roster.

The six-time All-Star will report to the Braves’ extended spring training complex in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, to work himself into game condition.

Source: Jose Bautista agrees to minor league deal with Atlanta Braves, will play 3B

Boston Braves announce they will move to Milwaukee (March 17, 1953)

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Image result for milwaukee bravesThe Braves’ spring training game on March 17, 1953,  against the Yankees in Bradenton, will prove to be the team’s last full one representing the city of Boston. During the sixth inning of the next day’s exhibition contest, the club learns the National League has approved its shift next month to Milwaukee.

That is in contrast to the Junior Circuit that two days ago before denied Bill Veeck permission to move his Browns to Baltimore, citing insurmountable problems due to the short amount of time left before Opening Day.

By 1952, it was clear that there could only be 1 team in Boston. For 50 years, Major League Baseball did not have a relocation and was the same for 50 straight years. After the rise of Ted Williams for the Red Sox, it was clear the Braves were no longer Boston’s #1 team, even after gaining the reputation that the Braves Field is more Family Friendly than Fenway was. The Boston Braves played their last home game Sept. 21, 1952, losing to the Brooklyn Dodgers 8-2 before 8,822 at Braves Field.

On March 13, 1953, owner Lou Perini said that he would seek permission from the National League to move the Braves to Milwaukee. After the franchise’s long history in Boston, the day became known as “Black Friday” in the city as fans mourned the team’s exit after eight decades. Perini, however, pointed to dwindling attendance as the main reason for the relocation. He also announced that he had recently bought out his original partners. He announced Milwaukee as that is where the Braves had their top farm club, the Brewers. Milwaukee had long been a possible target for relocation.

Jackie Robinson breaks color barrier in first game against Boston Braves (April 15, 1947)

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Image result for jackie robinsonOn this day in 1947, Jackie Robinson, age 28, becomes the first African-American player in Major League Baseball when he steps onto Ebbets Field in Brooklyn to compete for the Brooklyn Dodgers against the Boston Braves. Robinson broke the color barrier in a sport that had been segregated for more than 50 years.

Exactly 50 years later, on April 15, 1997, Robinson’s groundbreaking career was honored and his uniform number, 42, was retired from Major League Baseball by Commissioner Bud Selig in a ceremony attended by over 50,000 fans at New York City’s Shea Stadium.

Robinson’s was the first-ever number retired by all teams in the league.

Source: Jackie Robinson breaks color barrier – Apr 15, 1947 – HISTORY.com

Mets’ fan Gregory Sweeney is arrested and charged with reckless endangerment — John Rocker started it! (July 2, 2000)

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Image result for john rockerAt Shea Stadium on July 2, 2000, Mets’ fan Gregory Sweeney is arrested and charged with reckless endangerment after he throws a ball which Braves reliever John Rocker had tossed into the stands back onto the field.

In a few day later, the 26 year-old Brooklyn man will be exonerated as Queens District Attorney Richard Brown concludes Mr. Sweeney had no criminal intent and was doing nothing more than following a baseball tradition of returning an unsolicited and unwanted souvenir.

At some level, I’m surprised they didn’t arrest John Rocker! 🙂

 

“I don’t want them to forget Ruth; I just want them to remember me.” ~Hank Aaron after number 715 (April 8,1974)

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On April 8,1974, Hank Aaron of the Atlanta Braves hits his 715th career home run, breaking Babe Ruth’s legendary record of 714 homers. A crowd of 53,775 people, the largest in the history of Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, was with Aaron that night to cheer when he hit a 4th inning pitch off the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Al Downing. However, as Aaron was an African American who had received death threats and racist hate mail during his pursuit of one of baseball’s most distinguished records, the achievement was bittersweet.

I don’t want them to forget Ruth; I just want them to remember me.

Henry Louis Aaron Jr., born in Mobile, Alabama, on February 5, 1934, made his Major League debut in 1954 with the Milwaukee Braves, just eight years after Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier and became the first African American to play in the majors. Aaron, known as hard working and quiet, was the last Negro league player to also compete in the Major Leagues. In 1957, with characteristically little fanfare, Aaron, who primarily played right field, was named the National League’s Most Valuable Player as the Milwaukee Braves won the pennant. A few weeks later, his three home runs in the World Series helped his team triumph over the heavily favored New York Yankees. Although “Hammerin’ Hank” specialized in home runs, he was also an extremely dependable batter, and by the end of his career he held baseball’s career record for most runs batted in: 2,297.

Aaron’s playing career spanned two teams and 23 years. He was with the Milwaukee Braves from 1954 to 1965, the Atlanta Braves from 1966 to 1974 and the Milwaukee Brewers from 1975 to 1976. He hung up his cleats in 1976 with 755 career home runs and went on to become one of baseball’s first African-American executives, with the Atlanta Braves, and a leading spokesperson for minority hiring. Hank Aaron was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982.

 

Who was really the first black GM in baseball? Let’s remember Bill Lucas!

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On October 5, 1993, Bob Watson replaces Bill Wood as the general manager of the Astros, making the former Houston player the first black GM in baseball history. Bill Lucas had performed many similar duties for the Braves in the late 1970s, but he never officially held the title.

Mr. Lucas was a member of the Braves’ organization for 23 years, he was inducted into the Braves Hall of Fame in 2006.

Lucas was born in Jacksonville, Florida. A graduate of Florida A&M University, he served as an officer in the United States Army. He then signed as an infielder with the Milwaukee Braves in 1957 and played for six seasons in the club’s farm system, batting .273 in 655 games.

He joined the Braves’ front office in 1965, working in sales and promotions during the team’s relocation to Atlanta before he switched to the player development department in 1967. Lucas was named the director of the Braves’ farm system in 1972 and promoted to GM responsibilities on September 17, 1976. At the time, the Braves were in last place in the National League West Division, 3012 games out of the division lead. Lucas’ official title was vice president of player personnel, but owner Ted Turner gave him all the duties of a general manager.

With players like Dale Murphy coming up through Lucas’ minor league system, and the selection of Bob Horner as the top pick in the 1978 Major League Baseball Draft, the Braves began assembling the team that would win the 1982 division title.

But the job of rebuilding the Braves was compounded by Turner’s tempestuous behavior. On May 11, 1977, the owner appointed himself the Braves’ field manager during a losing streak. His dugout reign drew national headlines but lasted only one day before the president of the National League ruled that Turner, as an owner, could not appoint himself manager. Then, starting in 1978, Lucas found himself caught between Turner and players like rookie Horner and veteran pitcher Phil Niekro, a future Hall of Famer, during contentious contract negotiations.

On the evening of May 1, 1979, with the Braves on the road facing the Pittsburgh Pirates at Three Rivers Stadium, Lucas watched on television from his Atlanta home as Niekro won his 200th Major League game, 5–2. Hours after congratulating Niekro by phone, Lucas was stricken with cardiac arrest and a massive cerebral hemorrhage. He died three days later without regaining consciousness at age 43. At his passing, he was still the highest-ranking black executive in professional baseball.

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Knuckleballer Phil Niekro becomes 227th player elected to the Hall of Fame (January 6, 1997)

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Knuckleballer Phil Niekro, who compiled a 318-274 record during his 24 major league career, becomes 227th player elected to the Hall of Fame on January 6, 1997. ‘Knucksie’, who spent two-plus decades with the Braves, also had short stints with the Indians, Yankees, and Blue Jays.

Phil and his brother Joe Niekro amassed 539 wins between them, the most combined wins by brothers in baseball history, and Phil’s 121 career victories after the age of 40 is a major league record. His longevity is attributed to the knuckleball, which is a difficult pitch to master but is easy on the arm and often baffles hitters due to its unpredictable trajectory.

At the age of 48, Niekro was the oldest player in major league history to play regularly until Julio Franco played at age 49 in 2007. He set a major league record by playing 24 seasons in the major leagues without a World Series appearance. His total of 5,404⅓ innings pitched is the most by any pitcher in the post-1920 live-ball era.

He only appeared in the postseason twice, making a playoff start in 1969 and again in 1982, both for Braves teams that lost the series.

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Braves knock around Phils in 19-hit rout winning 15-2 (March 31, 2018)

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Though they generated power to fuel and cap their dramatic Opening Day comeback win, the Braves understand they will more consistently resemble the pesky squad they were on Saturday night, when they aggressively navigated the basepaths and battered a taxed pitching staff while rolling to a 15-2 win over the Phillies at SunTrust Park.

In one of the more bizarre things I’ve seen by a Manager, Gabe Kapler goes to the mound to pull starter Vince Velasquez, who had allowed seven runs — four earned — in 2⅔ innings. But, no one is warming up in the bull pen. So he stalled to compensate for the fact Hoby Milner was not warmed up and ready to replace Velasquez. Crew chief Jerry Layne’s decision to protect Milner by allowing him to throw five warmup pitches once he reached the mound drew the ire of Snitker, who drew his second ejection of the series.

“For whatever reason the pitcher wasn’t even getting ready,” Layne said. “Who got crossed up? I’m not placing blame on anybody because I don’t even know. He just wasn’t ready. He hadn’t thrown a pitch. The last thing I want to do is get somebody hurt. It’s already a messed up situation.”

Here is Snitker arguing. It was to no avail.

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Nick Markakis capped the Braves’ largest Opening Day comeback in modern history with a three-run walk-off homer – Opening Day (March 29, 2018)

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Now this was a great opening day. I got to see it on MLB TV. Go Braves!

Nick Markakis capped the Braves’ largest Opening Day comeback in modern history with a three-run walk-off homer that concluded an 8-5 win over the Phillies on Thursday at SunTrust Park.

What had the makings to be a pitching-dominated game started to turn into a survival of the bullpens during the Phillies’ four-run sixth inning, which began with Cesar Hernandez homering off Julio Teheran, who made his Atlanta-record fifth consecutive Opening Day start. After Knapp capped the top of the sixth with a two-run single off Dan Winkler, Freeman cut into the Phillies’ 5-0 lead with a two-run homer off Hoby Milner in the bottom half of the inning.

Ozzie Albies began the Braves’ three-run eighth inning with a homer off left-handed reliever Adam Morgan. Freeman drew a walk and scored from second following an errant throw from Andrew Knapp while attempting to advance to third base on a passed ball. Preston Tucker then highlighted his Atlanta debut with a game-tying single off Edubray Ramos.

Phillies starter Aaron Nola limited the Braves to two hits and allowed just four balls to leave the infield before his 68-pitch effort ended when Inciarte opened the bottom of the sixth with a double and Albies flied out to right. Freeman scored Inciarte with his two-run homer off Milner.

Charlie Culberson began the bottom of the ninth with an infield hit off Hector Neris and advanced to second base on Ender Inciarte’s sacrifice bunt. After Freddie Freeman was intentionally walked, Markakis drilled his first career walk-off home run.

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Chipper Jones interview: 19-year career with the Atlanta Braves with Mark DeRosa

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Mark DeRosa at Baseball Nation interviews Chipper. DeRosa was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 7th round (212th overall) of the 1996 Major League Baseball draft. He made his MLB debut on September 2, 1998 as a shortstop.

From 1998 through 2001, DeRosa spent much of his time as a backup utility player, playing both infield and outfield. In 2002, though still playing as a backup, DeRosa was starting to play more and more, and enjoyed a successful batting average of .297.

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MLB Opening Day 2018: Starting lineup for Atlanta Braves is announced. – Let’s play ball!

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So here it is, courtesy of: MLB Opening Day 2018: Starting lineup for Atlanta Braves | AL.com

With Major League Baseball’s Opening Day coming on Thurs., March 29, you may be wondering what teams’ starting lineups look like.

If you’re an Atlanta Braves fan, here’s what the lineup will look like as the season gets underway:

1. Ender Inciarte, CF
2. Ozzie Albies, 2B
3. Freddie Freeman, 1B
4. Tyler Flowers, C
5. Nick Markakis, RF
6. Preston Tucker, LF
7. Rio Ruiz, 3B
8. Dansby Swanson, SS

Rotation and closer:
1. Julio Teheran, RHP
2. Mike Foltynewicz, RHP
3. Brandon McCarthy, RHP
4. Sean Newcomb, LHP
5. Anibal Sanchez, RHP
Closer: Arodys Vizcaino

(Note also that projected starting third baseman Johan Camargo will likely be out the first week of the season due to a back injury.)

Major League Baseball has a listing of every starting lineup in the league, and can be found on the organization’s website.

Source: MLB Opening Day 2018: Starting lineup for Atlanta Braves | AL.com

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Previewing Braves’ 2018 Opening Day lineup

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It is time to think about opening day.  at MLB.com. Previewing Braves’ 2018 Opening Day lineup

“Now that the Grapefruit League season has reached its end, it’s time for the Braves to get a better feel for where they are with their rebuilding process and possibly prove to be one of this season’s most surprising teams.

“This will be a transition season for the Braves, who have the potential to vie for their first winning season since 2013. Top prospects Ronald Acuna Jr. and Mike Soroka should join Atlanta’s roster at some point this year.

“But with Opening Day just three days away, here is a look at how the Braves will look during this season’s early stages.”

Projected Opening Day lineup
1. Ender Inciarte, CF
2. Ozzie Albies, 2B
3. Freddie Freeman, 1B
4. Tyler Flowers, C
5. Nick Markakis, RF
6. Preston Tucker, LF
7. Dansby Swanson, SS
8. Rio Ruiz, 3B
9. Julio Teheran, P

Source: Previewing Braves’ 2018 Opening Day lineup

Atlanta Braves roster: Preview for 2018, outlook for 2019

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Are the Atlanta Braves ready to contend, now in the 4th year of their rebuild? I’m thinking not. The more I read and from what I’ve seen so far in spring training, they don’t seem to be there.

Consider this from Atlanta Braves roster: Preview for 2018, outlook for 2019 – Talking Chop

The 2018 season is shaping up as a pivotal one for the Atlanta Braves who are entering the fourth year of their rebuild. Much of that focus of that rebuild has centered on reviving a barren minor league system and transforming it into one of the best in baseball. With some of that top talent pushing its way towards the major league level, 2018 is year of evaluation where the team must figure out which prospects will make up its core with a hopeful return to contention.

That is the task facing new general manager Alex Anthopoulos who was brought on to replace John Coppolella following an embarrassing investigation by major league baseball into transgressions on the international free agent market. That investigation resulted in Coppolella receiving a lifetime ban and the loss of 13 prospects along with other sanctions. It was one of the darkest moments of this franchise and one they hope to distance themselves from quickly.

Anthopoulos arrived shortly before the winter meetings and has taken an otherwise patient approach to the offseason. His biggest move to date was unloading Matt Kemp to the Dodgers in a five-player trade that brought veteran pitchers Brandon McCarthy and Scott Kazmir to Atlanta along with utility man Charlie Culberson. The Braves accomplished two things with the move. One, it freed up a corner outfield spot for top prospect Ronald Acuna who is slated to arrive at some point in 2018. It also helped clear the deck from a salary perspective which allow Atlanta to potentially make a splash in free agency in 2019.

This year’s team figures to be a younger group and their could be more youth on the way. Ozzie Albies arrived late last season and was impressive in his debut. He is entering his first full season as the team’s full time second baseman. Acuna is slated to arrive sometime after opening day but should be a fixture in the team’s outfield upon his arrival.

Source: Atlanta Braves roster: Preview for 2018, outlook for 2019 – Talking Chop

Fredi Gonzalez has a roller coaster of a ride as a manager and coach. (2011 – 2016)

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Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria hires his fourth manager on October 3, 2006 since buying the team four years ago. Florida hires Braves third-base coach Fredi Gonzalez to replace first-year skipper Joe Girardi, who had a well-publicized feud with the owner during the season.

Fredi has a roller coaster of a ride as a manager and coach.

On October 13, 2010, González was officially named the new manager for the Atlanta Braves, succeeding the retiring Bobby Cox.

On October 5, 2012, González managed his first postseason game as a Major League manager. It was a 6-3 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2012 National League Wild Card Game at Turner Field. González put this game under protest after the Infield Fly Rule was called by umpire Sam Holbrook on a ball that fell in shallow left field in the bottom of the eighth inning. González earned his first major league postseason win on October 4, 2013, in a 4-3 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers at Turner Field in Game 2 of the National League Division Series.

After a 9–28 start in 2016, González was fired by the Braves on May 17.

On November 7, 2016, the Miami Marlins hired González as their new third base coach.

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Max Surkont sets a couple of Braves records in Boston and Milwaukee (1950 to 1953)

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Boston starter Max Surkont matches goose eggs with Reds’ Ken Raffenberger during the first eight innings in a scoreless duel at Braves Field on August 1, 1952. The hard-luck right-hander will lose the game when he uncorks two wild pitches in the ninth inning that allows two unearned runs to score.

Max played for the Braves from 1950 to 1953. In 1953, the Boston Braves became the Milwaukee Braves. Against the Cincinnati Reds on May 25, 1953, he recorded eight consecutive strikeouts. Following his seventh straight strikeout, Surkont was forced to endure a thirty-five-minute rain delay. Afterward he struck out Andy Seminick to lead off the fifth inning. Surkont struck out thirteen batters in the game, a 10–3 Braves victory. He was 11–5 for the season and recorded a 61–76 career record. The record stood until Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher, Tom Seaver, struck out ten in a row in 1970.

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The Cardinals, in the first NL one-game winner-take-all wild-card playoff, beat the hometown Braves, 6-3 ( October 6, 2012)

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The Cardinals, in the first NL one-game winner-take-all wild-card playoff on October 6, 2012, beat the hometown Braves, 6-3, in a game that will be best remembered for a disputed infield fly rule call in the eighth inning.

The irate Turner Field fans show their displeasure with the umpires’ decision on what appears to be a key Redbird error on a dropped pop fly in the outfield by littering the playing field with debris, causing a 19-minute delay while the ground crew cleans up the assorted trash.

Dan Uggla, always a home run threat, comes up representing the tying run with two outs in the ninth. Uggla fouls off Motte’s first offering. 0-1. Motte’s second pitch? Slider outside. 1-1. Motte throws a strike right at Uggla’s knees. 1-2. The Braves are down to their last strike again. Uggla hits a routine ground ball to first and it’s over!

It was Chipper’s last game.  Chipper didn’t want to go out this way. He made a crucial throwing error and never hit a ball out of the infield, his brilliant career ending with a 6-3 loss’

Don’t blame the umps, Jones said. “I’m the one to blame.” In the fourth inning, with the Braves leading 2-0 on David Ross’ homer, Carlos Beltran blooped a single to right for the first hit of the game off Kris Medlen. But the Braves got what they needed from Matt Holliday, a hard-hit grounder to third base that Jones fielded with a nifty backhanded grab.

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Mel Ott singles home a run in the Giants’ 3-2 victory over Boston Bees in the season finale at the Polo Grounds. (October 2, 1938)

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On October 2, 1938 at the Polo Grounds, Mel Ott singles home a run in the Giants’ 3-2 victory over Boston Bees (aka The Braves) in the season finale at the Polo Grounds. Sometimes the Braves are the foil for other teams to do great things. That is the way it is in baseball. Someone had to throw the pitch that allowed Hank Aaron to break Babe Ruth’s record.

The 29 year-old Giants’ right fielder, who will celebrate a birthday in the off season, establishes the record for the most games played before a 30th birthday with 1,739, more than Robin Yount’s 1,671 (Brewers, 1974-85) and Andruw Jones’s 1,625 (Braves, 1996-2007)

The season finale at the Polo Grounds, Bees (Braves) outfielder Vince DiMaggio strikes out four times, extending his major league record to a season total of 129.

It is something to be known as Joe’s older brother. During a 10-year baseball career, Vince played for the Boston Bees (1937–1938), Cincinnati Reds (1939–1940), Pittsburgh Pirates (1940–1945), Philadelphia Phillies (1945–1946), and New York Giants (1946). Vince was the older brother of Joe and Dom DiMaggio.

This was also Joe Stipp’s last game. “Jersey Joe” Stripp was the last major league batter to bat against a legally thrown spitball, at the end of the career of Burleigh Grimes in 1934. Grimes was one of 17 pitchers who were allowed to continue to throw the spitball, after it was banned in 1920.

Boston Bees Table
Batting AB R H RBI BB SO BA OBP
Vince DiMaggio CF 4 0 0 0 0 4 .228 .313
Joe Stripp 3B 4 0 0 0 0 0 .280 .326
Debs Garms LF 4 0 0 0 0 0 .315 .371
Tony Cuccinello 2B 4 1 2 0 0 0 .265 .331
Max West RF 3 1 2 2 1 0 .234 .300
Elbie Fletcher 1B 3 0 1 0 1 1 .272 .351
Ray Mueller C 4 0 0 0 0 1 .237 .282
Rabbit Warstler SS 3 0 2 0 0 1 .231 .303
Jim Turner P 3 0 1 0 0 0 .229 .267
Team Totals 32 2 8 2 2 7 .250 .294
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/27/2018.

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Luke Walker singled off Atlanta Braves Cecil Upshaw to break an 0-for-39 drought at the plate.

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When you are 0-for-39, at some point you are going to break the streak. Unfortunately for the Atlanta Braves, it happened on July 19, 1972 at Three Rivers Stadium. Luke Walker singled off Cecil Upshaw to break an 0-for-39 drought at the plate.

The Pirates’ southpaw pitches three innings of one-hit shutout baseball to pick up a save in the 8-3 victory over the Braves.

Cecil Upshaw, the Braves pitcher that night, started having problems due to an unfortunate incident in 1970. He and two other Braves players were walking down an Atlanta sidewalk and one of the other players bet him he could not jump up and touch an overhead awning. He did reach the awning, but a ring on his pitching hand ring finger got caught on a projection off of the awning and tore ligaments in his hand. He never fully recovered, but was considered one of the better pitchers in major league baseball up to that time.

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Do the Braves Have a Future Hall of Famer in Ronald Acuna? 

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Okay, this is a lot of hype, but then again, stranger things have happened. Besides, I want to believe, at least at this time of year. It’s spring training and I want to see the Braves do better this year.

“More than 200 players have been voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Membership in the hall is a confirmation of baseball greatness, and when teams convene in late winter in warm climes to prepare for the new season, prospects who possess evident talent become subjects of fan enthusiasm, even speculation about how good, indeed how great their careers might be.

“This year the Atlanta Braves have such a prospect. He is a 20-year-old Venezuelan outfielder named Ronald Acuna. And here is a relevant set of facts: On April 4, 2017, Acuna was assigned to the Florida Fire Frogs (one of the team’s single-A affiliates); on May 9, 2017, to the Mississippi Braves (AA); and on July 13, 2017, to the Gwinnett Braves (AAA), where he finished the year. Acuna thus accomplished the rarity of advancing three levels in a single season.

“As for baseball statistics, an abiding fan interest, in 28 games with the Fire Frogs Acuna hit .287; in 57 games with Mississippi, .326; and in 54 games with Gwinnett, .344. Other important statistics—among them on-base percentage, extra-base hits, slugging, and stolen bases tell the same story of a baseball player upwardly bound. And on defense Acuna may be a real phenom. He is a natural right-fielder with a strong arm who can also patrol center field better than most who play the position now, say baseball scouts.

“Historically” means since 1990, and the Braves have had several No. 1 prospects who became top players (if not Hall of Famers). They include Andruw Jones, who was Baseball America’s top prospect for the consecutive years 1996-97, and had a great career (thanks to his defensive abilities). And Chipper Jones, Baseball America’s No. 1 in 1991 and the game’s second-best switch-hitter ever (behind only Mickey Mantle), who played mostly third base. Jones will enter the Hall of Fame this summer.

“Someone who has watched Acuna play and will see more of him this spring is Jones, who told Mark Bowman of MLB.com that he doesn’t “say much to Ronald” because “he does nothing I would change.”

“It appears that the Braves have a prospect ready to play every day at a high level. And if he plays at least most of the schedule, that would represent a remarkable achievement for prospect Acuna, who soon could add another name to the lengthening list of the game’s exceptional young players—among them Aaron Judge of the Yankees, Mike Trout of the Angels, Bryce Harper of the Nationals, Kris Bryant of the Cubs, and Corey Seager of the Dodgers.

“The new season cannot arrive too soon, and certainly not in Atlanta.”

Source: Do the Braves Have a Future Hall of Famer in Ronald Acuna? | The Weekly Standard

Braves have second best farm system according to MLB Pipeline

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Now here is some good news. We have all been waiting for the rebuilding of the Atlanta Braves to be complete. It still appears to a few years in the future but here is some good news to lighten my heart.

“It is no real surprise that the Braves’ farm system is highly regarded across baseball as well as with the national baseball media. The Braves have a really strong headline grabber in prospect wunderkind Ronald Acuna Jr., a ton of top 100 level talent with around 12 players that have reasonable cases to be on such lists, and a depth of talent that most teams could not even hope to compete with.”

Source: Braves have second best farm system according to MLB Pipeline – Talking Chop

Chipper Jones Opens Up About Legendary Career on “Outside The Lines”

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Atlanta Braves great Chipper Jones sits down with Bob Ley on OTL to discuss his career, relationship with Hall of Fame manager Bobby Cox, and Mickey Mantle’s influence and much more.

Chipper ended his career in 2012 with a .303 career batting average, 468 home runs, and 1,623 RBI. He has the most career RBI for a third baseman and holds the Braves team record for career on-base percentage (.402); he ranks third on the Braves career home run list. He spent his entire 19-year MLB career and all 23 years as a professional baseball player in the Atlanta organization.

 

 

Bill Bruton hits two triples to lead the Braves to victory of St. Louis (August 2, 1959)

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Bill Bruton accomplishes a rate feat on August 2, 1959. He was a triple hitting machine.

In both the first and the sixth inning of the nightcap of a twin bill at County Stadium, hits a three-run triple. The Milwaukee Braves center fielder’s pair of three-baggers with the bases loaded contributes to the team’s 11-5 victory over St. Louis.

In his twelve-year major league career, Bruton posted an overall .273 batting average with 94 home runs and 545 run batted in in 1,610 games. A line-drive hitter and a fleet-footed runner, Bruton led the National League in stolen bases for three consecutive seasons (1953 through 1955), twice in triples (1956 and 1960), and once in runs scored (1960). He led off a game with a home run twelve times.

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Billy Wagner come to terms on a $7 million, one-year deal for the southpaw to become the club’s closer. (December 2, 2009)

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The Braves and left-hander Billy Wagner come to terms on a $7 million, one-year deal for the southpaw to become the club’s closer, replacing Rafael Soriano and Mike Gonzalez on December 2, 2009. The Boston Red Sox claimed Wagner off waivers from the Mets. After initial reports suggested Wagner would invoke his no-trade clause to veto a trade, he agreed to be traded on August 25 for Chris Carter and Eddie Lora, with the added stipulation that the Red Sox could not exercise his $8 million option for 2010, but could offer him salary arbitration. The Red Sox did offer Wagner arbitration, but he declined so the Red Sox received the first-round draft pick from the team that signed Wagner (Atlanta Braves) and a sandwich pick in the 2010 rookie draft.

The six-time All-Star, who missed most of the 2009 season due to elbow surgery, was traded by the Mets to the Red Sox in late August after the reliever showed he still has a live fastball in his initial appearance off the disabled list in New York.

On April 30, 2010, Wagner revealed that he would retire at the end of the 2010 season to spend more time with his family. In a game against the Detroit Tigers on June 25, Wagner achieved his 400th career save. After the game, he told reporters that he still planned to retire after the 2010 season. On July 11, Wagner was selected as an injury replacement to the 2010 National League All Star roster, which he declined due to an ankle injury.

He played his final regular season game on October 3, 2010, and struck out the final four batters he faced – the last three of whom struck out looking. He concluded his final major league regular season with a career-best 1.43 ERA. Wagner made his final major league appearance on October 8 in Game 2 of the NLDS against the San Francisco Giants. Wagner suffered an injury to his left oblique and left the game after facing just two batters. The Braves eventually lost the series before Wagner could recover.

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Chipper Jones On his book “Ballplayer” (Hall of Fame – 2018)

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Atlanta Braves third baseman Chipper Jones—one of the greatest switch-hitters in baseball history—shares his remarkable story, while capturing the magic nostalgia that sets baseball apart from every other sport. His new book, “Ballplayer,” takes readers into the clubhouse of the Braves’ extraordinary dynasty, from the climax of the World Series championship in 1995 to the last-gasp division win by the 2005 “Baby Braves.”

The National League MVP also shares pitch-by-pitch dissections of clashes at the plate with some of the all-time great starters, such as Clemens and Johnson, while also delving into his relationships with Bobby Cox and his famous Braves brothers and opponents from Cal Ripken Jr. to Barry Bonds.

From his overnight rise to superstardom to the personal pitfalls that came with fame, “Ballplayer” immerses readers in the best of baseball. Interview at 692 Broadway in NYC for BUILD Series.

In my opinion, Chipper is the best switch hitter ever. You can buy the book here.

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Braves trade Hank Aaron to Milwaukee (November 2, 1974)

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On November 2, 1974, the Atlanta Braves trade Hank Aaron to the Brewers for Dave May and Roger Alexander. The move allows the all-time career home run champ to finish his career in Milwaukee, the city in which he started in the majors.

The new designated-hitter rule, enacted in 1973, made it possible, allowing Aaron, who along with Mathews and Warren Spahn led the Milwaukee Braves to a World Series championship in 1957, to hit the final 22 of his 755 home runs in a Brewers uniform.

Aaron played his final two seasons with the Brewers, posting a .686 OPS. He finished with 2,297 RBIs and 6,856 total bases, records that stand today.

The Brewers retired his No. 44 after the conclusion of the 1976 season, when Aaron’s playing career came to an end.

“He wasn’t the same Hank Aaron — we knew that,” said Bob Uecker, a teammate of Aaron’s with the Braves who was just beginning his broadcasting career when Aaron joined the Brewers. “But he was still a presence.”

Aaron hit his 755th and final home run on July 20, 1976, at County Stadium, a solo shot off California reliever Dick Drago. The baseball hooked just inside the left-field foul pole at County Stadium and landed in section 28 of the lower grandstand. Months passed before anyone realized it was the Home Run King’s final shot.

While I appreciate the nostalgia of this, I wish he would have finished in Atlanta.

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John Smoltz: ‘The Success Of The Atlanta Braves Won’t Be Duplicated’ 

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I am a big fan of the Atlanta Braves. What they did by winning 14 division championships is stunning. I agree with John Smoltz. I don’t think it will happen again.

This documentary sounds great.

“All these years later, it is still incredible to think that the Atlanta Braves won 14 straight division titles from 1991-2005. The Braves won the World Series in 1995, played in the Fall Classic five times in the 1990s and had a roster that featured four Hall of Fame players and a Hall of Fame manager. Yet this was a dynasty that was supposed to win multiple championships. The Braves lost in extra innings of Game 7 of the 1991 World Series and blew a 2-0 series lead against the New York Yankees in 1996.

“A new documentary “Atlanta Rules: The Story of the ’90s Braves,” produced by MLB Network, includes interviews with Hall of Famers Chipper Jones, John Smoltz, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Bobby Cox and several others who helped transform Atlanta from one of the worst teams in baseball into a perennial championship contender.”

Source: John Smoltz: ‘The Success Of The Atlanta Braves Won’t Be Duplicated’ « CBS Boston

Atlanta Braves pitchers and catchers report today (February 13, 2018)

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Source: Ten storylines to define Atlanta Braves 2018 spring training

The Giants set a modern record by stealing 11 bases, in one game, against the Braves. (1912)

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There was a lot new in 1912, including the new name, the Boston Braves. Having played for the Rustlers in 1911, Cy Young reported to spring training. He stayed for three weeks and then left admitting his arm was no good.

What wasn’t new was their record. They finished last, 52 games behind the leader.

It was pretty bad that year but June 20 would highlight the calamity. The Giants set a modern record by stealing 11 bases, in one game, against the Braves. New York was ahead 14-2 after the eighth inning. In the ninth, they added seven more runs. The Braves had a rally in the bottom of the ninth for 21-12 score. The 17 runs scored in the ninth set a record.

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Chipper Jones — Players to hit 40 percent above league average in 10,000-plus career plate appearances (Hall of Fame)

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21: Players to hit 40 percent above league average in 10,000-plus career plate appearances

Chipper Jones, Hall of Famer, is a power hitter with more walks than strikeouts in past 30 years (2018)

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8: Power hitters with more walks than strikeouts in past 30 years

Chipper is one of 35 Live-Ball Era players to reach base at least 40 percent of the time in 5,000 or more plate appearances (Hall of Fame)

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Hall of Famer Chipper Jones is one of a handful of players in Atlanta Braves history to win MVP Award

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3: Players in Atlanta Braves history to win MVP Award

Chipper Jones finished his career as one of 21 members in the 400 Homer-150 Steal Club — Hall of Fame (2018)

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21: Players in the 400 HR-150 SB Club

Longtime Atlanta Braves exec John Schuerholz scores Atlanta Sports Council’s Lifetime Achievement Award 

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One of the biggest minds behind the Atlanta Braves will receive the Atlanta Sports Council’s Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2018 Atlanta Sports Awards.

Former Atlanta Braves general manager and National Baseball Hall of Fame inductee John Schuerholz will join other Atlanta legends who have received the award, including most recently Arthur Blank (2017), John Smoltz (2016), Tom Glavine (2015), Tommy Nobis (2014), Chipper Jones (2013), Dominque Wilkins (2012) and Bobby Cox (2011).

The ceremony, which is presented by The Coca-Cola Co. will be held June 7 at The Fairmont.

From 1990 to 2007, Schuerholz served as general manager of the Braves, turning the team’s six-year losing streak around within his first year. Following his 17 years as general manager, Schuerholz spent the next decade as the Braves president. Since 2016, he has served as the team’s vice chairman.

Widely considered one of the most successful and influential general managers in baseball history, John forever changed Atlanta Braves baseball. As both a community leader and a 50-year baseball veteran, John embodies all that the Lifetime Achievement Award stands for, and we look forward to recognizing his achievements on June 7.”

~ Atlanta Sports Council President Dan Corso

In addition to his influence on the diamond, Schuerholz made his mark on the local community as a board member of YES! Atlanta, a local nonprofit that provides mentorship to at-risk youth of Atlanta. A passionate advocate for Yes! Atlanta, Schuerholz donated his name to an annual golf tournament that benefitted the organization, according to the sports council.

As president of the Braves, Schuerholz oversaw the Atlanta Braves Foundation, which provides financial support to local organizations and strives to make a positive impact on the community.

The Baltimore-native began his front office baseball career in 1966 as a personal assistant to Lou Gorman, who was the director of player development for the Orioles at the time. Schuerholz was promoted to general manager of the Kansas City Royals in 1981, leading the team to its first World Series win in 1985. Following that season, he was named the Executive of the Year by Sporting News. Schuerholz was drawn to Atlanta in 1990, accepting the role of general manager for the Braves, a team that had finished last in its division that year.

Under Schuerholz, the Braves made MLB history, finishing first in their division for 14 consecutive seasons (1991-2005), securing five National League pennants and winning the 1995 World Series. Schuerholz was the first general manager to ever win a World Series in both the American League and National League – the Royals in 1985 and the Braves in 1995.

In August 2016, Schuerholz was inducted into the Braves Hall of Fame, and in July 2017, he was inducted to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

I am humbled and honored to be given this recognition by the Atlanta Sports Council, and it’s even more special given that this community has been our home for nearly 30 years and the relationships we have made here I truly cherish.It is with deep gratitude that I accept this honor on behalf of the players, coaches and front office team members of the Atlanta Braves who, working together, helped build a championship organization that achieved a level of success of which we are most proud.”

~John Schuerholz

The Atlanta Sports Awards will be held at The Fairmont in West Midtown for the first time in 2018. The awards, created by the Atlanta Sports Council in 2006, highlight the high school, collegiate and professional sports community in Atlanta.

Chipper Jones qualified as a switch-hitter to hit .300 from both sides of the plate (Hall of Fame)

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Games above .500 for Braves with Chipper Jones (Hall of Fame) in lineup (2018)

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403: Games above .500 for Braves with Chipper Jones in lineup

Former No. 1 overall pick, Chipper Jones, in the Baseball Hall of Fame

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2: Former No. 1 overall picks in the Baseball Hall of Fame