Posted on 17 September 2010 by admin
One of the most pivotal media moguls of the last century, Ted Turner has meant more to America than even his stable of television channels would suggest. Besides his contributions to broadcasting, charity, and professional wrestling (WCW, remember?), he was also one of the men most responsible for the Atlanta Braves’ rise back to the top of the baseball foodchain.
But did you know that, beyond his extensive role behind the scenes, that Turner once managed the team on his own?
The year was 1977. The Braves had lost 16 straight games, causing the feisty owner to show manager Dave Bristol the door. It wasn’t a firing as we’d think of it, more like a mandated vacation. In the skipper’s absence, Ted decided to take things into his own hands. On May 11, the club took the field with their owner, wearing the No. 27 emblazoned across his back, sitting in the manager’s spot in the dugout.
The Braves would lose 2-1 to the Bucs, on the strength of a six-hit effort from hurlers John Candelaria and Goose Gossage. Turner had little chance to insert himself much into the proceedings, which, depending on your point of view, is either a blessing or a shame. Following the game, the newly christened manager heard from the Commissioner’s office.
Bowie Kuhn and National League President Chub Feeney, it seems, weren’t nearly as excited about this experiment as Turner was. They ruled that, because of his ownership of the team, he could not be an active participant in the games.
“They must have put that rule in yesterday,” he said. “If I’m smart enough to save $11million to buy the team, I ought to be smart enough to manage it… I want to manage even more now because they don’t want me to.”
Though he would never return to the dugout in an in-game capacity, Turner would do great things for the franchise. Thanks in large part to their deal with TBS, legions of fans around the nation would be treated to regular doses of the team’s dominant romp through the 1990’s.
- Taylor Maxwell
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