Nicknames couldn’t save the ’76 Braves
Leave it to Ted Turner to attempt to profit from nicknames. The erstwhile tycoon probably needed the dough, having just purchased the laughingstock of the NL, fresh off a 67-win season. The ’75 Braves weren’t just bad, they were boring, drawing only 534, 672 fans .
Ted made a big splash in 1976, signing baseball’s first free agent, Andy Messersmith, to a $1.4 million contract (including a signing bonus). As you know, Ted also owned Channel 17. Not coincidentally, Messersmith was assigned #17 and a new nickname: Channel, which was sewn onto the back of his uniform.
For the sake of legitimacy, all Braves had monikers affixed to those fantastic red pinstriped unis, though Commissioner Bowie Kuhn eventually forced the team to ditch the sobriquets. Fortunately someone took photos.
(pictured: Messersmith, Jim “Cannon” Wynn — who led the ’76 Braves with 17 HR and 66 RBI — and Jerry “J.Bird” Royster)