What was the first game in Atlanta like? April 12, 1966 was a historic day for the Braves.
Here is the lineup for that day. You’ll see some great names and a few obscure ones.
Leading off and playing center field — No. 29, Felipe Alou. Batting second, third baseman — No. 41, Eddie Mathews. In the three hole, right fielder — No. 44, Hank Aaron. Batting cleanup and playing left field — No. 43, Rico Carty. Batting fifth and behind the plate — No. 15 catcher, Joe Torre. At shortstop and batting sixth — No. 19, Denis Menke. Batting seventh, first baseman — No. 9, Lee Thomas. At second base and batting eighth — No. 2, Frank Bolling. And on the hill, right-hander — No. 40, Tony Cloninger.
A crowd of 50,671, slightly below capacity of 52,007, was on hand to witness the game, which the Pirates won 3-2 in 13 innings. Home runs accounted for all the scoring. Torre was responsible for both Atlanta runs, hitting solo shots in the fifth (the first official home run in the stadium) and then in the 13th. Joe Pagliaroni had a solo homer for Pittsburgh in the eighth, and Willie Stargell hit a two-run shot in the top of the 13th, which proved to be the difference.
And some trivia about our pitcher. In what would be unheard of in today’s game, Tony Cloninger went the full 13 innings and was charged with the loss. He struck out 12 and walked just three. Cloninger, who won 24 games in 1965 and finished with a 14-11 record in 1966, put his name in the baseball record book later that season by hitting two grand slams against the San Francisco, Giants on July 3.
He is the only pitcher in major league baseball history to accomplish that feat.