Saturday, November 19, 2005

 
November 19th, 1938

Ted Turner Born


The success of the Braves in the John Schuerholz/Bobby Cox era has succeeded to a large extent in masking that Turner's initial years at the head of the Braves was a nearly unmitigated disaster and the team was--as recently as the late 80s, the subject of national mockery on The Simpsons. For a while, Turner was something like George Steinbrenner or Charley Finley without whatever good sense those men possessed. Turner was especially bad when it came to signing free agents. He allegedly had an inside track towards signing Reggie Jackson after the 1981 season but when Jackson arrived for a meeting, Turner was drunk and leading the bar in chants of "Reggie! Reggie!" Jackson signed with the Angels instead.

In things which are more than just slanderous rumor, Turner definitely was so over anxious in his attempts to sign Gary Matthews (a good but not great player) that he got himself suspended for a year on charges of tampering. During a brief period when Turner was reinstated, he put manager Dave Bristol a "ten-day paid leave" and announced he was taking over as Braves' manager. He lasted all of one game (a loss, naturally) before NL President Chub Feeney forced Turner to resign, citing the league rule that a manager could not have a financial stake in the team.

Turner also moved to put his players' nicknames on the jersey, and shortly after he acquired Andy Messersmith, Turned assigned him number 17 (Messersmith wanted 47) and decided Messersmith's new nickname was "Channel" such that "Channel 17" would now appear on the pitcher's jersey. Not coincidentally, this happened to be the channel which carried Turner's network on local cable in
Atlanta. Chub Feeney also got wind of his one and forced a change. Overall, before Schuerholz's arrival in 1990, the Braves went 978-1225 (.443, that's an average of 72-90) under Turner, posting just three winning seasons, while losing over one hundred games twice and over ninety an astounding nine times in fourteen seasons, almost sixty-five percent of the time. Of course, it’s to Turner's credit that he hired Schuerholz and Cox, but it shouldn't be forgotten the disaster his early tenure was.





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