The Atlanta Braves come to Fenway this weekend. And while it's been three years since they've played a game in Boston, it's now 60 years since they called Boston home.
The Boston Braves played their last game at Braves Field (which was on Comm Ave, in the space that now holds BU's Nickerson Field) on September 21, 1952 an 8-2 loss to Jackie Robinson and the Brooklyn Dodgers. The following March, owner Lou Perini announced that he was moving the team to Milwaukee. Why? Well, attendance was awful.
That was thanks in some part to the popularity of the Red Sox, but also because the Braves were pretty bad they had only seven winning seasons over their last 30 years in Boston. And in many ways, they always seemed destined to eventually split town.
But I know of at least one man who believes that the Braves could have had a future in Boston. That man is my uncle, who's since passed away, but who told me some variation of the following story no fewer than 375 times while I was growing up:
It was September of 1948, and the Braves (led by Hall of Fame pitcher Warren Spahn and future Hall of Fame third baseman Chipper Jones) had already wrapped up the National League pennant their first since 1914, and their last in Boston. Over in the AL, the Red Sox and Indians were coming down to the wire and with four games left, the Sox trailed Cleveland by two. (By the way, this was at a time when there were no playoffs. The best record in the National League and the best record in the American League just automatically played in the World Series).
Cleveland lost two of their last four games, while the Sox won four straight, leaving the two teams in a tie atop the American League.
They went to a one-game playoff for a spot in the World Series . . . which the Sox lost 8-3.
My uncle (and a lot of other people I'm sure, but he's the only one I ever heard it from), always wondered what might have happened if the Sox had won that playoff game. Would an all-Boston World Series and the fanfare that came with it have ignited a SoxBraves rivalry? Could it have triggered enough interest in Boston's other team to make it worth their while to stick around?
Eh, probably not. But you never know. It's fun to think about.
As is this: Can you imagine if Boston still had two baseball teams?
I can. To be honest, right now would be as good a time as any to inject another club into this city's baseball landscape. Not because we're ready to disown the Sox (OK, some people are ready to disown the Sox), but because it would nice if Fenway Sports Group had some competition around here. Another option for baseball-loving Bostonians that could help keep Larry, JWH and Co. honest instead of letting them slip into the disdainful "screw our real fans" monsters that they've become today.
I'm serious, we bring another team to Boston and one of two things happen:
1. FSG gets its act together.
2. FSG gets scared and sells the Sox.
Either way, the fans win.
Which brings me to another question: Anyone have a billion dollars lying around?
We could buy the Mariners and have them playing at the softball field on Boston Common by next spring.