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Spahn and Sain, then pray for Rain
They’ve played under a variety of nicknames – from Doves to Beaneaters – but the Braves have one of pro sports’ deepest traditions. The only baseball franchise to win a World Series in three different cities, here are the five greatest teams in Braves history:
The Milwaukee Braves won the World Series, downing the Yankees in seven games. Hank Aaron became a star, hitting .322 with 44 homers en route to NL MVP honors. Eddie Mathews hit .292 with 32 homers. Warren Spahn won 21 games and the Cy Young. Lew Burdette beat the Yankees three times in the World Series.
The Braves won the franchise’s third World Series title and first in Atlanta, beating Cleveland in six games. Cy Young winner Greg Maddux went 19-2 with a 1.63 ERA. Tom Glavine (16 wins) and John Smoltz (12 wins) also shined on the mound. Fred McGriff led the team in average (.280), homers (27) and RBIs (93).
Spahn and Johnny Sain combined to win 39 games, and the phrase “Spahn and Sain, then pray for rain,” was born as Boston won the NL pennant. Al Dark hit .322 to win rookie of the year. In its first World Series in 34 years, Boston lost to Cleveland in six games.
The worst-to-first Braves lost the World Series to Minnesota in seven classic games, one season after losing 97 games. Glavine won 20 games and the Cy Young. Terry Pendleton hit .319 to capture the batting title and MVP honors. Atlanta rallied from a 9 ½-game deficit at the All-Star Break to win the NL West, then came back from a 3-2 NLCS deficit to beat Pittsburgh for the pennant.
The “Miracle Braves” of Boston started 4-18, but won 51 of their final 67 to take the NL pennant. Boston then swept Connie Mack’s heavily favored A’s in the World Series, led by Hank Gowdy’s .545 average. Johnny Evers won NL MVP honors. Bill James and Dick Rudolph each won 26 games.
Bud L. Ellis