Loria vs. Ted

Terrific column by Joe Posnanski contrasting Ted’s stint in the dugout with Jeffrey Loria hiring a GM who never played, coached or managed a professional baseball game.

There are so many fun parts to this, one being that the Braves were so far gone at that point that the players seemed perfectly in tune with Turner’s decision to give his manager a midseason vacation and become the skipper himself. …

“If you knew Ted Turner like we do, you’d understand what he’s doing,” Phil Niekro said. “I respect him for it, and I think everybody else on the club does. He doesn’t like to lose.”

“I think it was a good idea,” infielder Rod Gilbreath said. “He loosened everybody up when he told us about it in the clubhouse.”

“Everyone on the team loves the guy,” Barry Bonnell said.

And the fans, who already loved Ted, loved him more for trying to manage the team.

Anyway, the next night in Atlanta, the public address announcer read the telegram sent by Bowie Kuhn to Ted Turner. “Given Mr. Turner’s lack familiarity with game operations,” Kuhn had written, “I do not think it is in the best interests of baseball to serve in the requested capacity.”

The crowd booed angrily. Ted Turner responded as only he could.

“Am I crazy?” he asked. “Am I the only sane man or am I the only nut?”

He also never ripped off taxpayers to get a new stadium built. (Actually it should be noted that Atlanta’s love affair with Ted came to an end after the Brett Butler trade. Soon Ted’s meddling became seen as the chief cause of the the team’s ineptitude. But the relationship was mostly repaired after the ’91 season.)

There’s lots of other great anecdotes about the Braves in Posnansky’s column, including these nuggets from the 17-game losing streak.

During one loss, Braves reliever Mike Marshall was pulled out of the game by manager Dave Bristol. Marshall responded by bowling the baseball toward second base and then he threw a bat from out of the dugout onto the field. He did not show up the next day. “Dave just has different philosophies from mine,” Marshall said. “That’s fine, he’s the boss. … But I have things to do other than sit on the bench and watch baseball games.”

During another loss, the Braves showed a replay of a close play on the new $1.5 million dollar video board Turner had purchased basically to embarrass umpires. Turner insisted, of course, that he did not want to embarrass umpires at all; he even had his staff put up a video message saying: “Please be considerate of our friends the umpires on any close calls shown on this board.” It was quite shocking to find that fans actually were not that considerate. After this time, the umpire walked off the field, leading baseball to ban replays of close plays (a ban that lasted for decades*).,,,

After the no-replay ban was put in place, reporters asked Turner what was left to show on his hugely expensive video screen. He did not hesitate.

“We’ll show X-rated movies,” Turner said. “We have kiddie days all the time … why not have an adult day with no one under 18 admitted without parental consent?”

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2 thoughts on “Loria vs. Ted

  1. Ted was cool. When I was a kid I used to go to Shea every year to see the Braves. Ted was always there. After the game, what crowd there was would filing out and Ted would be there by the visitors dugout, usually by himself. I’d go down to see him. He was always happy to see me. I told him once he needed to trade Cito Gaston and he laughed.

  2. Like I’ve said a dozen times before, Ted was a major part of what attracted me to this team when I got WTCG on my cable system in the spring of ’79. Rooting for the Braves in those days was like being on the crew of a pirate ship. You had fun even though everybody hated or disdained you. You just didn’t care.

    Bowie Kuhn was a sanctimonious prig as well as a hypocrite and a dope. He always reminded me of that guy who played Hal Williams’ clueless partner on “Sanford and Son.”

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