1976 Atlanta Braves season

1976 Atlanta Braves
Major League affiliations
Record 70–92 (.432)
Divisional place 6th
Other information
Owner(s) Ted Turner
General manager(s) Eddie Robinson, John Alevizos, Bill Lucas
Manager(s) Dave Bristol
Local television WTCG
(Ernie Johnson, Pete Van Wieren, Skip Caray)
Local radio WSB
(Ernie Johnson, Pete Van Wieren)
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The 1976 Atlanta Braves season was the 11th season in Atlanta along with the franchise's 106th consecutive year of existence in American professional baseball. The Braves finished in sixth and last place in the National League West Division, compiling a 70–92 (.432) win-loss record; although the 70 victories represented a three-game improvement over the fifth-place 1975 edition, the last-place finish would be the first of four straight years in the NL West divisional basement. The club drew 818,179[1] fans to Atlanta Stadium, a 53 percent increase over its dismal 1975 attendance of less than 535,000 fans.


Ownership and management: the Ted Turner era begins

On January 7, 1976, the modern era of the Braves franchise effectively began when Atlanta broadcast executive and world-class yachtsman Ted Turner bought 100 percent of the team from the Atlanta LaSalle Corp. for $10 million. The previous ownership group, as the LaSalle Corp., had owned the team since October 1962 and spearheaded its move from Milwaukee to Atlanta in time for the 1966 season; its chairman, William Bartholomay, retained his association with the Turner-owned Braves as chairman of the board.[4] Early reports speculated that Turner bought the Braves to provide local programming content for his television station, then WTCG-TV, Channel 17. But Turner would become a highly successful baseball executive and turn WTCG into the WTBS Superstation and a cornerstone of the Turner Broadcasting System.

Turner wasted no time in making headlines and major changes in the Braves' front office. On April 11, 1976, he signed one of baseball's first free agents, starting pitcher Andy Messersmith, who had successfully sued baseball and brought about the end of the reserve clause,[5] for a contract valued at more than $1 million. Messersmith, a 19-game-winner for the 1975 Dodgers, was initially issued a uniform bearing the numeral 17 but the word "Channel" instead of his nameplate above it, promoting Turner's WTCG outlet. He made the NL All-Star team that season, his most successful as a Brave, and was one of the few bright spots in a 92-loss, last-place season. The team's field manager, Dave Bristol, hired by the previous owners three months before the sale, survived the 1976 season—but he would be involved in a bizarre firing-and-rehiring by Turner during the 1977 campaign.

Turner also employed three general managers in 1976. In May, he replaced veteran baseball man Eddie Robinson, inherited from the previous regime and in office for almost four full years, with former Boston Red Sox executive John Alevizos. But Alevizos lasted only four months before he was removed in favor of Braves' farm system director Bill Lucas, who became the first African-American general manager in Major League history on September 17. Lucas, the former brother-in-law of Braves' legend Henry Aaron, would begin the rebuilding of the franchise into a competitor, but he died suddenly at age 43 from a cerebral hemorrhage in 1979, the year before the Braves finally cracked the .500 mark.

Led by stars such as Dale Murphy and Bob Horner, the early 1980s Braves featured a succession of successful teams, and won the 1982 National League West Division championship. But they declined precipitously in 1985, and after some very lean years in the late 1980s, Turner, working with a talented team of senior executives such as Bobby Cox, Stan Kasten and John Schuerholz, would turn the Braves into a perennial contender during the 1990s, and a nationally popular franchise on WTBS, where they styled themselves as "America's Team." They won consecutive division titles from 1991–1993 and 1995–1996, NL pennants in 1991, 1992, 1995 and 1996, and the 1995 World Series, before Turner sold the team and all of his Turner Broadcasting holdings to Time Warner in 1996.

Regular season

Season standings

NL West W L Pct. GB Home Road
Cincinnati Reds 10260 0.630 49–32 53–28
Los Angeles Dodgers 9270 0.568 10 49–32 43–38
Houston Astros 8082 0.494 22 46–36 34–46
San Francisco Giants 7488 0.457 28 40–41 34–47
San Diego Padres 7389 0.451 29 42–38 31–51
Atlanta Braves 7092 0.432 32 34–47 36–45

Record vs. opponents

1976 National League Records

Atlanta 6–66–127–118–108–44–85–73–910–89–94–8
Chicago 6–63–95–73–911–75–138–108–106–68–412–6
Cincinnati 12–69–312–613–59–36–65–78–413–59–96–6
Houston 11–77–56–125–1310–26–64–82–1010–810–89–3
Los Angeles 10–89–35–1313–510–27–55–79–36–128–1010–2
Montreal 4–87–113–92–102–108–103–158–104–87–57–11
New York 8–413–56–66–65–710–85–1310–87–57–59–9
Philadelphia 7-510–87–58–47–515–313–58–108–46–612–6
Pittsburgh 9–310–84–810–23–910–88–1010–87–59–312–6
San Diego 8–106–65–138–1012–68–45–74–85–78–104–8
San Francisco 9–94–89–98–1010–85–75–76–63–910–85–7
St. Louis 8–46–126–63–92–1011–79–96–126–128–47–5

Notable transactions


1976 Atlanta Braves
Pitchers Catchers



Other batters



Player stats


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
CVic Correll6520045.225516
1BWillie Montanez103420135.321964
3BJerry Royster149533132.248545
LFJimmy Wynn14844993.2071766
RFKen Henderson133435114.2621361

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
Tom Paciorek11132494.290436
Lee Lacy5018049.272320
Brian Asselstine11337.21213


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
Phil Niekro38270.217113.29173
Dick Ruthven36240.114174.19142
Andy Messersmith29207.111113.04135
Al Autry15105.403

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
Rick Camp511.1016.356

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
Adrian Devine485693.2148
Bruce Dal Canton423513.5636
Mike Beard300214.288
Buzz Capra50108.684
Preston Hanna50004.503

Farm system

Level Team League Manager
AAA Richmond Braves International League Jack McKeon
AA Savannah Braves Southern League Tommie Aaron
A Greenwood Braves Western Carolinas League Gene Hassell
Rookie Kingsport Braves Appalachian League Bobby Dews
Rookie GCL Braves Gulf Coast League Chuck Goggin and Pedro González



  1. Baseball Almanac
  2. Jerry Royster at Baseball-Reference
  3. Larvell Blanks at Baseball-Reference
  4. ["Ted Turner, the yachtsman, buys baseball's Braves", The Boston Globe, January 7, 1976]
  5. The Associated Press, April 11, 1976,
  6. Ricky Jones at Baseball-Reference
  7. John Butcher at Baseball-Reference
  8. Darrell Evans at Baseball-Reference
  9. Blue Moon Odom at Baseball-Reference
  10. Mike Marshall at Baseball-Reference


  • 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. 
  • 1976 Atlanta Braves season at Baseball Reference
  • Atlanta Braves on Baseball Almanac
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