In honor of the roughly 400 people who turned out for the Marlins game against the Nats the other day, we thought we’d look back at some of the smallest crowds in Atlanta Braves history.
The nadir came on a Monday night, Sept. 8, 1975, when 737 people turned out to see a duel between a future Hall of Famer and one of the most dominant righthanders of the era. However, Phil Niekro and J.R. Richard happened to pitch for the two worst teams in the National League.
The Astros entered the game with just 55 wins, against 89 losses. The Bravos were 63-81. Cesar Cedeno hit two homers and drove in six to lead Houston to victory in a game saved by Mike Stanton. No, not that Mike Stanton.
The Astros weren’t much of a draw back then. Thirty one years ago to the day, 970 folks showed up to watch the Braves beat the ‘Stros 4-3. They saw something they’d never see again — Al Autry in a major league uniform. In fact, they had never seen it before. This marked the only appearance by the Braves righty in the bigs. He got the win, outdueling future Bravo scrub Bo McLaughlin. I imagine the grandkids aren’t transfixed when grandpa starts talking about his cup of MLB coffee.
(Cedeno must’ve thrived on the small crowds — he hit a homer and drove in two runs.)
Only 877 people attended the Braves-Giants game on a Tuesday night in September, 1977. The Braves were 51-87 at the time, and played like it, losing 12-2. Among those who toiled on the mound for the Bravos: Eddie “Buddy Jay” Solomon, Don Collins, Duane Theiss and Max Leon.
The Bravos played several other games in the 70s with just over 1,000 fans in attendance — too many to list.
The 1980s weren’t much better, though compared to the previous decade the turnstiles were hopping. Here’s a look at some of the smaller crowds from the Reagan era (including some low figures from games the Braves played on the road — note the sparse attendance at Wrigley Field, before the Cubs were officially designated as cuddly):
Sept.3 at Cubs: 1,480
Sept. 29 vs. LA: 2,150
Sept. 16 vs Hou: 2,400
Sept. 17 vs Hou: 2,484
Sept. 22 vs. SD: 2,419
Sept. 9 vs SD: 2,501
April 12 vs. Hou: 1,938
May 4 vs. Phi: 2,047
Sept. 5 vs SD: 1,528
Sept. 21 vs Hou: 2,117
Before TP, JS, BC and the rest rescued the francise, Old Blue was a lonely place. The home team was last in the NL in attendance for three straight seasons: 1988-’90. The club drew a combined 2.8 million in those three years, a total surpassed in the 1992 season by itself, which was the first year Atlanta drew 3 million.
–CB and CD