What Really Happened in
1963

The
Milwaukee Braves

The honeymoon between the team and the Milwaukee community started to end around the same time that the Braves began to realize that not every October would be spent playing the Yankees in the World Series. In particular, two latent issues that had been smoothed over during the halcyon years came to the fore with increasingly bitter stress, especially in the writings of influential Milwaukee Journal sportswriter Russ Lynch. The first had to do with the fact that [Lou] Perini, for all his local honors for having brought the franchise to Milwaukee [from Boston], had remained very much an absentee owner, continuing to reside near his other business interests in Massachusetts. For critics like Lynch, this made it impossible to completely trust the team owner and in fact perpetuated a threat that, for the same of the bottom line, he might one day shift the club out of Milwaukee as abruptly as he had moved it in. In this context, Lynch and others noted the growing role played by television in the ledgers of a baseball franchise and Milwaukee's scant potential in this area. Another sore point, made more and more important in the push to get Perini either to sell the team to local interests or move his base of operations to Wisconsin, was the team's policy of forbidding fans to bring beer into County Stadium, forcing them to purchase it from ballpark concessionaires. The issue was aired to full censorious effect and, together with the team's relatively more humdrum play on the field, lessened enthusiasm for the Braves at the turnstiles.
Worn down by all the criticism and aware hat no other member of his family was as enthusiastic as he was about the franchise, Perini finally satisfied his critics in 1962 by selling the Braves to a joint Milwaukee-Chicago syndicate headed by Illinois insurance broker Bill Bartholomay. But not even the comparatively local ownership could reverse the declining fortunes of the team on the field or at the gate. Although [Hank] Aaron continued to amass the numbers that would one day get him to the Hall of Fame and put him ahead of Babe Ruth on the all-time home run list, Mathews, Spahn, Adcock, and Burdette were clearly on the downside of their major league careers. The main bright spots during the rest of the team's tenure in Milwaukee were catcher Joe Torre and pitcher Tony Cloninger. Otherwise, the team was overladen with journeymen who could hit but couldn't field, could field but couldn't hit, or could throw a lot of innings but not especially brilliant ones.
-- Dewey & Acocella
Total Baseball
Hank Misses Triple Crown
In 1963 Hank Aaron came the closest of any National League player since 1948 to winning the Triple Crown. He led in RBI with 130, tied Willie McCovey for the top spot in home runs with 44, and finished third in the batting race, just seven points behind the winner, with a .319 average.
-- The Baseball Chronicle
"In some ways the Braves hadn't changed since out championship years. Spahn was on his way to a 23-win season, Mathews was still hitting a lot of homers, and Henry Aaron was still the game's best hitter. He would bat around .320 and lead the league with 44 homers and 130 RBIs. However, the old championship Braves were being broken up one player at a time in the early '60s. Bruton, Logan, Covington, Adcock, and Buhl were already gone and Crandall and i were going to be next. Del lasted until the end of the year, but on June 15 I was traded to the Cards for Gene Oliver and Bob Sadowski.
"Years later, a writer called me 'a goofy hillbilly from a hick town in West Virginia.' Just because I played with Milwaukee instead of the Yankees, it might have made a big difference in how I was perceived. The 3 wins in the 1957 World Series wasn't the only thing good that ever happened to me. I was a starting pitcher for 9-1/2 to 10 years for the Braves and won 179 games for them. That's 18 a year. But the World Series would be the only thing anyone talked about .... "
-- Lew Burdette
They Played the Game
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