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Relocated MLB Teams: The Milwaukee Braves

Between 1953 and 1967, the MLB’s Atlanta Braves were based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. They were then known as the Milwaukee Braves. The Milwaukee Braves came into being in 1953 following the relocation of the Boston Braves from Boston to Milwaukee. The Braves franchise had been in existence since 1871, when it was formed as the Boston Red Stockings. In fact, it is the only other surviving charter franchise of the MLB aside from the Chicago Cubs. In many quarters it is also considered the longest continuously running sports franchise in North America. During different periods in their Boston stay, they had gone by different nicknames including Red Caps, Beaneaters, Doves and Rustlers. The team was christened Braves for the first time in 1912 in reference to the fact that owner James Gaffney was a member of Tammamy Hall, a political organization whose symbol was an Indian chief. The team’s home games were played at the Milwaukee County Stadium.

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The Braves were fairly impressive on the pitch during their time in Milwaukee. During each of their thirteen seasons, they finished above .500. Their most successful season was 1957 when they won the World Series in memorable fashion. Inspired by Hank Aaron, Wahrn Spahn and Lew Burdette, they raced to the National League pennant with an impressive 95-59 record. In the World Series, the Braves were pitted against the New York Yankees. The series was hard fought with the two teams pushing each other all the way to game 7. The braves would go on to beat the Yankees to liftthe World Series title for the first time in 40 years. Hank Aaron was named league MVP as he led the league in RBI and homeruns, while Warren Spahn clinched the Cy Young with 21 wins. Meanwhile Lew Burdette was named World Series MVP as he threw three game victories and only gave up two earned runs. The 1958 season was marginally less successful for the Braves as they again made the World Series but were unable to retain it. Having won the NL championship with a 92-62 record, they earned a rematch with the Yankees. However, despite taking a 3-1 series lead, the Braves allowed the Yankees to exert their revenge as they lost the final three games. The franchise’s performances dropped in subsequent seasons but they stayed relatively respectable including a couple of near misses for a World Series appearance.

Why were the Milwaukee Braves Relocated?

The love affair between Milwaukee and the Braves was an epic one. The team arrived to a raucous welcome in 1953, breaking the National League’s annual attendance record at 1,826,297 fans in 1953 before extending this further to 2,215,404 during the 1957 World Series winning year. After that season, fan apathy began to creep in and attendance declined steadily year on year. Owner Lou Perini’s refusal to allow broadcasting of Braves games further contributed to a dwindling fan base. Perini was of the opinion that airing games would give fans little reason to turn out at the ballpark. The final straw for fans was the decision by the Milwaukee County Board to ban carry-in beer in order to force them to buy drinks at the ballpark.

By 1960 attendance had plummeted to 1.4 million, and then dropped to 1.1 million in 1961 and just 767,000 in 1962. That year, the club made its first loss. Sensing the franchise’s best commercial days were behind it, Perini sold to William Bartholomay, a Chicago-based investor. The new owner’s attempts to turn the team around were largely unsuccessful and talk of a relocation emerged. Fans initially thought it was a threat to force them to buy more tickets but the intended relocation to Atlanta was officially announced in 1965. However, Bud Selig a prominent local businessman went to court claiming that the intended relocation was a plot by league owners to deprive Milwaukee of MLB action. The team owners were found to have acted in restraint of trade and the courts gave an injunction which delayed the move for one season. However in 1966, the heartbreaking relocation to the growing city of Atlanta materialized leaving Milwaukee without a Major League Baseball team. This would not last long as Bud Selig acquired the struggling Seattle Pilots and relocated them to Milwaukee renaming the team Milwaukee Brewers.

Milwaukee Braves most Notable Players

Hank Aaron OF 1954-1965
Warren Spahn LHP 1953-1964
Eddie Mathews 3B 1953-1965
Red Schoendist 2B 1957-1960
Andy Pafko CF 1953-1959
Bill Bruton OF 1953-1960
Phil Niekro RHP 1964-1965
Johnny Logan SS 1953-1961
Lew Burdette RHP 1953-1963
Joe Adcock 1B/OF 1953-1962
Bob Buhl RHP 1953-1961, 1962
Del Crandall RC 1953-1963
Carl Willey RHP 1958-1962
Frank Torre 1B 1956-1960
Tony Cloninger RHP 1961-1965

Mack Jones OF 1961-1965

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