THE TEAM: The Braves are the oldest continuously operated franchise in National League history and are one of just six Major League clubs with more than 10,000 victories — that’s more than the Boston Red Sox or the New York Yankees and nearly 1,000 more than the Philadelphia Phillies (though the Phils have lost 10,000-plus games). In baseball’s modern era the Braves franchise has won three World Series titles, 17 Pennants, and made 21 playoff appearances … not to mention an unprecedented run of 14 consecutive Division Titles and the team of the 1990s under the leadership of Bobby Cox. A virtual who’s who of Hall of Fame legends also claim the Braves as their home team: Hank Aaron, Warren Spahn, Eddie Mathews, and Phil Niekro to name a few.
THE FORMAT: Atlanta Braves: An Interactive Guide to the World of Sports is composed of ten chapters, each offering numbered “mini-stories” — facts, anomalies, records, coincidences, and enthralling lore and trivia from Hall of Fame legends Aaron, Spahn, Mathews and Niekro to future Hall of Famers Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz and Chipper Jones, to contemporary stars Brian McCann, Dan Uggla and Tim Hudson. Each chapter begins with an introduction that highlights the many exciting stories found in these pages such as the “Worst-to-First” 1991 Braves, the legendary career of Manager Bobby Cox, the unprecedented Cy Young success for the Braves during the 1990s, the team’s greatest sluggers, and the greatest feats and most astounding records in franchise history.
SPORTS BY THE NUMBERS books are not just for diehard sports fans, but for every fan and sports history reader who loves sports and wants to know more about their heroes and favorite teams — and this title is the definitive source for history and trivia on your Atlanta Braves.
FROM THE INTRODUCTION
I grew up in the South and the Braves were my home team long before my parents relented and subscribed to the local cable TV network so we could watch games on TBS. My brothers and I had grown up listening to the Braves on the radio but our TV experience with baseball was limited to the nationally televised Saturday Game of the Week and Monday Night Baseball. We watched those games using the rabbit ears on our parents small black and white TV.
That changed when our neighbors got cable TV.
We lived way out in the country and they were the first family we knew who actually had cable. And when we discovered TBS broadcasted the Braves games every night at 7:05 … well, our parents figured if they wanted us to spend more time at home then they should invest in cable. Thanks to the Braves, we got cable and a brand new color TV.
Of course our favorite player was Dale Murphy. The first game I remember seeing Murph play in person he homered in his first at bat. At the time my brothers and I thought that was the greatest thing that would ever happen to us. It still ranks pretty high on the list.
Like many fans, baseball was obviously an important part of my childhood and an important part of my relationship with my dad and my brothers — and in my case, with my mom as well. No one else’s mom could throw BP as well as mine. My parents were very careful, however, to make sure that baseball was a tool they could use to help me grow and learn valuable life lessons. They also understood the influence that watching professional ballplayers had on young kids — so even though baseball was absolutely a positive experience in our young lives, my parents set boundaries and didn’t let us have free reign. It’ll sound strange nowadays I’m sure, but here’s an example: we could watch the Braves on TBS or listen to a game on the radio no problem, but if our parents were not in the room with us then the rule was we had to turn the volume down during commercials.
I get that it might sound like a strange rule today … but the truth is we didn’t question it because it was a boundary our parents set for us and we just accepted it. And looking back I appreciate it — because our parents knew how impressionable we were, how much we idolized the Braves and the guys who wore that uniform, and how easily influenced we were by anything associated with our favorite team. In other words, they had standards — and they wanted to make sure people and products that met those standards influenced us.
And that’s why our parents were more than happy to let Dale Murphy be our baseball hero.
After all, the guy did milk ads.
In my adult life I’ve been a baseball coach, an athletic director, and a teacher — and I’ve spent a lot of time worrying about who my student-athletes idolize. Today I spend all my time writing, but when I shoot hoops and talk NBA with my nephew or go see a Rays or Braves game with my nieces I still worry about who is influencing them. And I wish the guys who were glorified during baseball’s steroids era hadn’t been treated like gods at the time. I wish we lived in a simpler time when parents could tell their kids to turn down the volume during commercials — but in the tech-savvy world we live in, kids today have a much different reality. And they need boundaries more than ever, and everyone knows we need athletes to be better role models — but kids today also need tools to help them make good choices in life.
All that to say this — I’m glad there are organizations like Dale Murphy’s I Won’t Cheat Foundation. I’m glad there are athletes with standards and morals who kids can look up to and learn from. I’m glad that for every bad example my nephew sees today on ESPN that I can share with him stories about truly heroic ballplayers like Cal Ripken, Jr. or Dale Murphy or Kirby Puckett.
The I Won’t Cheat Foundation’s motto is “Injecting Ethics into America’s Future.”
I like it, a lot — and I think every fan of baseball should support the principles that I Won’t Cheat promotes. You can visit IWontCheat.com to learn more about the comprehensive program available for schools and youth leagues.
This book is about the history of the Atlanta Braves. In it you will find the greatest players and moments in franchise history. It’s my hope that you will also find the same positive message in these pages that Dale Murphy’s Foundation promotes — that character and integrity matter, and goals we achieve with our character and integrity intact have real value.
PRAISE FOR ATLANTA BRAVES: AN INTERACTIVE GUIDE TO THE WORLD OF SPORTS
“The Braves have a storied and interesting history and I am honored to be a small part of it. Tucker Elliot has captured that history in a way that is both educational and fun at the same time. Atlanta Braves: An Interactive Guide to the World of Sports is not only for those who are Braves fans, but it is also a book for anyone who loves the game of baseball.”
– Dale Murphy, 1982 & 1983 National League MVP
“I grew up watching the Braves and Dale Murphy was my all-time favorite player, however … the Braves actually were not my favorite team. After reading Atlanta Braves: An Interactive Guide to the World of Sports, I might reconsider my ‘favorite team status.’ It’s full of entertaining and informative trivia and history, and if you’re like me, you’ll have a hard time finding a stopping point as you read through one entry after another.”
– Zac Robinson, author From the Fields to the Garden: The Life of Stitch Duran
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