Boston Braves

From BR Bullpen

Boston Braves: (Apr. 11, 1912-Sept. 29, 1935; Apr. 30, 1941-Mar. 18, 1953)

  • Win-Loss Record: 2453-2993-55 (.451) 22,172-24,664 (-2492)
  • Ballparks: South End Grounds III: (Apr. 11, 1912-Aug. 11]], 1914) 92-105-5 (.468), 7370-7064 (306); Fenway Park: (Apr. 9, 1913-Jul. 26,1915, Apr. 28, 1946) Regular season: 57-27-3 (.672) 414-322 (92), Post Season: 2-0 (1.000) 8-5 (3) ; Braves Field: (Aug. 18, 1915-Sept. 21, 1952) Regular Season: 1378-1410-23 (.494) 10795-11632 (-837); Post Season: 1-2 (.333) 5-8 (-3)
  • National League Pennants: 1914, 1948
  • World Series Title: 1914


The Boston Braves trace their origins to the Boston Base Ball Association, which was first established on January 20, 1871. Between 1871 and 1882, the team officially played as the Boston Red Stockings. Historically the team was known as the Boston Red Caps during their first seven seasons in the National League. Starting in 1883 they were officially referred to simply as "Boston" or "the Bostons". During that period and until 1906, the team was popularly known as the Boston Beaneaters, although this nickname had no official standing. For four seasons, the team was referred to as the Boston Doves and for one season as the Boston Rustlers, under the ownership of William Russell. On occasion in the 19th century, the team was known as the Boston Nationals, in order to differentiate between them and rival Boston clubs. The Nationals name was used more often starting in 1901 with the addition of the Boston Americans in the rival American League.

In 1912, journalists began to use the name "Boston Braves" for the first, a named also derived from their owner, James Gaffney (the names Doves and Rustlers were plays on the last names of previous owners). In this case, the name did not refer to Gaffney's name but to his political background and membership in Tammany Hall, whose symbol was an Indian. Gaffney liked the name and made it official, although the Nationals name was still used by the press as late as 1916. Again, the name change and change in ownership did little to improve the team at first. Mid-way through the 1914 season, the team was in last place in the National League. By the end of the season, though the Braves had pulled off a miracle, winning their first pennant in 16 years. They then proceeded to sweep the heavily favored Philadelphia Athletics to win their first World Series Championship. Unfortunately the championship was only short-lived.

The team would change owners four more times, but the Braves nickname would remain. The team was sold in 1922 to a group led by Christy Mathewson and Judge Emil Fuchs. Fuchs would be the Braves' longest owner since the Arthur Soden years. His tenure was marred by years of frustration as well as financial difficulty. In 1929, Fuchs even took over as manager when he had to trade manager Rogers Hornsby to the Chicago Cubs. At one point the Philadelphia Phillies gave him a loan of $35,000. In the 1930s the team would manage to be relevant again, but the success was also short-lived. In order to pay rent on Braves Field, Fuchs acquired a washed-up Babe Ruth from the New York Yankees for the 1935 season, hoping the Babe would draw crowds.

The move was a disaster. Unhappy that his titles of Vice-President and assistant manager was meaningless, as well as by his poor on-field performance, Ruth retired on June 1st. By the end of July, Fuchs stepped down as President and turned the reins over to Charles F. Adams. When the season ended, the team had posted its worst record to date, going 38-115. The 38 wins was not the fewest the team had posted as major league franchise - that dubious honor belonged to the 1871 team, with 22, albeit in a much shorter schedule. The 115 losses set a franchise record that still holds. The team's winning percentage of .248 was also its worst, although it failed to exceed the 1906 team's mark of finishing 66.5 games out of first. Shortly after the season ended, the National League took control of the franchise due to Adams' connection to gambling.

The team took a break from the Braves nickname from 1936 to 1940, playing as the Boston Bees, before returning to the Braves name in 1941. The Braves had been losing fans and games in profusion during the 1920s and the first half of the 1930s and, seeking to reverse the trend, prior to the start of the 1936 season, team President Bob Quinn had asked fans to select the new team nickname. The team's poor on-field fortunes as the Bees prompted a return to its more traditional name.

The End of the Boston Braves[edit]

Since 1901, the Braves had been be in competition with the Boston Red Sox. During the 50+ years that Boston had two baseball teams, the Red Sox won 7 American League pennants and 4 World Series championships, compared to the Braves' 2 National League pennants and 1 World Series Championship. In the 1920s and into the early 1930s, both teams fell on to hard times. The Red Sox recovered in 1934, and by 1946 returned the World Series for the first time since 1918. For their part, the Braves made their second World Series appearance in 1948. However, the Red Sox's popularity was on the rise, and, saddled with a decrepit ballpark, the Braves' owners were forced to start looking for greener pastures elsewhere. The team found these in the city of Milwaukee, WI. However the city already had a minor league team the Milwaukee Brewers. As the Brewers, were the farm club of the Braves, the owners decided to move the team to a new location in order to open the door for a major league franchise. As it happened, the city of Toledo, OH had recently lost its team when the Toledo Mud Hens bolted to Charleston, West Virginia in June of 1952. The Brewers moved to Toledo to replace the recently departed Mud Hens, while the Braves took over Milwaukee.

The Braves played their last home game in Boston on September 21, 1952 in a 8-2 loss to the Brooklyn Dodgers. Their last win would come on September 27th, also against the Dodgers. Virgil Jester was the winning pitcher. The team's last major league game as the Boston Braves came the next day, a 5-5, 12-inning tie to the Dodgers. Shortstop Johnny Logan got the team's last score, which came in the top of the 9th off of an Eddie Mathews double. Braves' catcher Paul Burris got the team's last hit in the top of the 12th inning, while former Braves' manager Tommy Holmes got the Dodgers' last "hit" off pitcher Lew Burdette, a fielder's choice, while Bobby Morgan was the last out in a Boston Braves' game.

On March 13, 1953, Braves' owner Lou Perini announced that he was moving the team to Milwaukee. However, the National League needed to approve the move. In the meantime the Braves carried on with spring training as the Boston Braves. Five days later, they were scheduled to play the Yankees on the road in St. Petersburg, FL. At the same time, owners of the National League were meeting at the Vinoy Park Hotel in the same town to determine the fate of the Braves. Through five innings, pitcher Bob Buhl managed to hold the Bronx Bombers scoreless, with the Braves scoring 3 runs. At the top of the 6th, word reached Al Lang Field, where the two teams were playing, that the Braves' move to Milwaukee had been approved. The team would now be called the Milwaukee Braves.

Manager Charlie Grimm replaced Buhl with Dick Donovan, who promptly was lit up with 5 runs off of 5 singles. In a bit of irony, the first hit against the new Milwaukee club was by former Braves' pitcher Johnny Sain. A headline in the Boston Globe the next day read: "Braves Win Last Game for Boston, Milwaukee Loses It."

The Braves' owners then sold Braves Field to Boston University. The scoreboard was sold to the Yankees, who moved it to Kansas City, MO and placed it at the Municipal Stadium.

Today there remains a small contingent of Boston Braves fans. Fans who continue to root for the Braves' over the Red Sox and can be seen at Fenway Park whenever the Atlanta Braves come to town. The last surviving player from the Boston Braves was Del Crandall, who died on May 5, 2021.

Franchise Players[edit]

See also[edit]

The poem: Spahn & Sain and pray for rain [1]

Further Reading[edit]

  • Charles C. Alexander: The Miracle Braves, 1914–1916, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2015. ISBN 978-0-7864-7424-0
  • Charlie Bevis: Red Sox vs. Braves in Boston: The Battle for Fans’ Hearts, 1901–1952, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2017. ISBN 978-0-7864-9664-8
  • Harold Kaese: Boston Braves: 1871-1953, Northeastern University Press, Boston, MA, 2004. ISBN 978-1555536176. Originally published in 1948.
  • Bill Nowlin, ed.: The Miracle Braves of 1914: Boston's Original Worst-to-First World Series Champions, SABR, Phoenix, AZ, 2014. ISBN 978-1-933599-69-4
  • Bob Ruzzo: "Braves Field: An Imperfect History of the Perfect Ballpark", The Baseball Record Journal, SABR, Volume 41, Number 2 (Fall 2012), pp. 50-60.
  • Troy Soos: Before the Curse: The Glory Days of New England Baseball, 1858-1918, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2006.
  • Robert S. Fuchs, Wayne Soini: "Judge Fuchs and the Boston Braves, 1923-1935" McFarland, Apr 1, 1998

Other sources:

  • Peter Filichia: Green Cathedrals: The Ultimate Celebrations of All 273 Major League and Negro League Ballparks Past and Present, Addison Wesley Publishing Company (March 1993)
  • Nationals sold
  • John A. Husman: Baseball In Toledo, Arcadia Publishing, Charleston, SC, 2003
  • Lowry, Philip: Green Cathedrals. Walker & Company, 2006
  • Boston Backers
  • The Last Days of the Boston Braves
  • New York Times: BEES ARE BRAVES AGAIN; New Owners at Boston Decide on Return to Old Name, April 30, 1941