On this day 39 years ago Ted Turner named himself manager, hoping to break the Braves’ 16-game losing streak. He failed, but the players, and fans, loved him for it.
“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. …
(T)he 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?”
One year earlier, in 1976, the Braves entered play on May 11 losers of 13 in a row, negating what had been a surprising 8-5 start. Before 5,974 fans, the 8-18 Braves battled the Mets to a 7-7 tie with 2 out in the bottom of the 9th. Manager Dave Bristol called on our namesake to pinch hit, and naturally, Rowland delivered.
Bet there won’t be that many people in the park tonight (back then, the announced attendance counted butts in the seat, not tickets sold). Bet the Braves don’t score runs. But the Phils might, with Williams Perez making an inexplicable return to the majors after the trade of Jhoulys Chacin to the Angles (for a 23-year-old southpaw whose spent the last two years in the lowest of minors).
Markakis, Inciarte, Freeman, KJ, AJ, Beckham, Aybar, Perez, Smith