1966 Atlanta Braves season

1966 Atlanta Braves
Major League affiliations
Location
Results
Record 85–77 (.525)
League place 5th
Other information
Owner(s) William Bartholomay (chairman)[1]
General manager(s) John McHale, Paul Richards
Manager(s) Bobby Bragan   52–59 (.468)
Billy Hitchcock   33–18 (.647)
Local television WSB-TV
Local radio WSB
(Larry Munson, Ernie Johnson, Milo Hamilton, Dizzy Dean)
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The 1966 Atlanta Braves season was the first for the franchise in Atlanta, following their relocation from Milwaukee, where the team had played the previous 13 seasons while also the 96th season overall. The Braves finished their inaugural year in Atlanta in fifth place in the National League with a record of 85–77, ten games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Braves played their first season of home games at Atlanta Stadium. The home attendance for the season was 1,539,801, sixth in the ten-team National League.[1]

Offseason

Regular season

  • July 3, 1966: Tony Cloninger became the first National League player—and, as of 2010, the only pitcher—to hit two grand slams in one game.[4]
  • September 11, 1966: Rookie pitcher Pat Jarvis of the Braves became the first of 5,714 strikeout victims of Nolan Ryan's career.[5]

Opening day

The Atlanta Braves' first-ever game was played at home, at Atlanta–Fulton County Stadium, on Tuesday, April 12, 1966, against the Pittsburgh Pirates before 50,671 fans.[6] Braves' starting pitcher Cloninger, a 24-game winner in Milwaukee in 1965, pitched a 13-inning complete game but absorbed a hard-luck, 3–2 loss.[7][8][9] With the game tied at one in the top of the 13th, future hall of famer Willie Stargell hit a two-out, two-run home run to put Pittsburgh ahead 3–1. Atlanta catcher Joe Torre hit his second solo homer of the game to narrow the deficit to one run, but the Pirates held on to win. Earlier, in the fifth inning, Torre had hit the first homer in Atlanta's major league history.[6][9]

Starting lineup

29Felipe AlouCF
41Eddie Mathews    3B
44Hank AaronRF
43Rico CartyLF
15Joe TorreC
19Denis MenkeSS
  9Lee Thomas   1B
  2Frank Bolling2B
40Tony CloningerP

Season standings

National League W L Pct. GB Home Road
Los Angeles Dodgers 9567 0.586 53–28 42–39
San Francisco Giants 9368 0.578 47–34 46–34
Pittsburgh Pirates 9270 0.568 3 46–35 46–35
Philadelphia Phillies 8775 0.537 8 48–33 39–42
Atlanta Braves 8577 0.525 10 43–38 42–39
St. Louis Cardinals 8379 0.512 12 43–38 40–41
Cincinnati Reds 7684 0.475 18 46–33 30–51
Houston Astros 7290 0.444 23 45–36 27–54
New York Mets 6695 0.410 28½ 32–49 34–46
Chicago Cubs 59103 0.364 36 32–49 27–54

Record vs. opponents

1966 National League Records

Sources:
Team ATL CHC CIN HOU LAD NYM PHI PIT SF STL
Atlanta 7–1110–814–4–17–1114–411–77–118–107–11
Chicago 11–76–125–138–108–105–136–126–124–14
Cincinnati 8–1012–64–146–1210–710–88–107–1011–7
Houston 4–14–113–514–47–117–117–114–146–1210–8
Los Angeles 11–710–812–611–712–611–79–99–910–8
New York 4–1410–87–1011–76–127–115–139–97–11
Philadelphia 7-1113–58–1011–77–1111–710–810–810–8
Pittsburgh 11–712–610–814–49–913–58–107–118–10
San Francisco 10–812–610–712–69–99–98–1011–712–6
St. Louis 11–714–47–118–108–1011–78–1010–86–12

Front-office and managerial turnover

The Braves' first year in Atlanta featured an unusual amount of management churn in both the front office and dugout. On June 28, it was announced that Paul Richards, a veteran former MLB manager and general manager, would join the team as a roving troubleshooter in its farm system.[10] The Braves were then a disappointing 34–42 (.447) and in eighth place in the ten-team National League. Braves president and GM John McHale remarked that Richards, 57, was poised to assume greater responsibilities within the Atlanta organization if called upon,[10] leading to speculation that he would replace embattled field manager Bobby Bragan. More than a quarter-century earlier, in 1938, Richards had begun his management career as the successful player-manager of the minor league Atlanta Crackers.

On August 9, with the Braves still mired in the second division at 52–59 (.468), 12½ games behind and in seventh place,[11] fourth-year skipper Bragan was dismissed and replaced by bench coach Billy Hitchcock,[12][13] like Richards a former teammate of McHale's with the Detroit Tigers. Hitchcock's hiring would pull the Braves out of their tailspin, and they won 33 of 51 games (.647), advancing to fifth place. But Richards was indeed destined to rise within the Atlanta organization. On August 31, he was named director of player personnel at both the Major and minor-league levels, effectively becoming general manager of baseball operations without the formal title, which McHale temporarily retained.[14] Four months later, McHale resigned from the Braves to join the office of Commissioner of Baseball William Eckert, and on January 11, 1967, Richards was formally named Braves' general manager. He would serve in the post through June 1, 1972.[15]

National transactions

Roster

1966 Atlanta Braves
Roster
Pitchers Catchers

Infielders

Outfielders Manager

Coaches

Player stats

Batting

Starters by position

Note: Pos = Position; G = Games played; AB = At bats; H = Hits; Avg. = Batting average; HR = Home runs; RBI = Runs batted in

Pos Player G AB H Avg. HR RBI

Other batters

Note: G = Games played; AB = At bats; H = Hits; Avg. = Batting average; HR = Home runs; RBI = Runs batted in

Player G AB H Avg. HR RBI
Félix Millán379125.27505
Sandy Alomar31444.09102
John Herrnstein17184.22201
Marty Keough17171.05901

Pitching

Starting pitchers

Note: G = Games pitched; IP = Innings pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts

Player G IP W L ERA SO
Tony Cloninger39257.214114.12178
Wade Blasingame1667.2375.3234
Pat Jarvis1062.1622.3141

Other pitchers

Note: G = Games pitched; IP = Innings pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts

Player G IP W L ERA SO
Hank Fischer1448.1233.9122

Relief pitchers

Note: G = Games pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; SV = Saves; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts

Player G W L SV ERA SO
Clay Carroll7387112.3767
Chi-Chi Olivo475474.2341
Ted Abernathy384443.8642

Farm system

Level Team League Manager
AAA Richmond Braves International League Bill Adair
AA Austin Braves Texas League Hub Kittle
A Kinston Eagles Carolina League Andy Pafko
A West Palm Beach Braves Florida State League Buddy Hicks
A Yakima Braves Northwest League Eddie Haas
Rookie GCL Braves Gulf Coast League Tom Saffell

LEAGUE CHAMPIONS: Austin

Notes

  1. 1 2 "Bartholomay claims vindication as Braves pass million and half". Milwaukee Journal. Associated Press. September 29, 1966. p. 17, part 2.
  2. Jesse Gonder at Baseball Reference
  3. Tom Seaver at Baseball Reference
  4. Great Baseball Feats, Facts and Figures, 2008 Edition, p. 259, David Nemec and Scott Flatow, A Signet Book, Penguin Group, New York, ISBN 978-0-451-22363-0
  5. Baseball's Top 100: The Game's Greatest Records, p. 32, Kerry Banks, 2010, Greystone Books, Vancouver, BC, ISBN 978-1-55365-507-7
  6. 1 2 Retrosheet box score: 1966-4-12
  7. Thisted, Red (April 13, 1966). "Braves' Atlanta debut a 3-2 flop". Milwaukee Sentinel. p. 2, part 2.
  8. Kuechele, Oliver E. (April 13, 1966). "Stargell's home run in 13th ruins Braves' Dixie debut". Milwaukee Journal. p. 2, part 18.
  9. 1 2 "Braves defeated in Atlanta debut". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). Associated Press. April 13, 1966. p. 33.
  10. 1 2 The Associated Press, June 26, 1966
  11. "Baseball in a nutshell". Milwaukee Sentinel. August 9, 1966. p. 2, part 2.
  12. "Hitchcock plans changes". Milwaukee Sentinel. UPI. August 10, 1966. p. 2, part 2.
  13. Wolf, Bob (August 10, 1966). "'Impulsive' best describes brash Bobby; orange drink costs him $100 and job". Milwaukee Journal. p. 2, part 21.
  14. United Press International August 31, 1966
  15. Baseball America Executive Database
  16. Marty Keough at Baseball Reference
  17. Frank Thomas is place on waivers
  18. Bobby Cox at Baseball Reference
  19. Cubs, Atlanta trade again
  20. Al Santorini at Baseball-Reference

References

  • Johnson, Lloyd; Wolff, Miles, eds. (1997). The Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball (2nd ed.). Durham, North Carolina: Baseball America. ISBN 978-0-9637189-8-3. 
  • 1966 Atlanta Braves season at Baseball Reference
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