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From Boston to Milwaukee, and now Atlanta, the Braves organization has a proud history of baseball that stretches all the way back to 1871. Originally known as the Red Stockings and then the Beancounters, this National League franchise became the Braves in 1912. Despite a World Series title in 1914, enthusiasm in Boston eventually waned, and in 1953, the team moved to Milwaukee.
Upon arriving in the Midwest, the team starred future Hall of Famers Eddie Matthews and Warren Spahn, but that would soon change. In 1954, to fill a hole in the outfield, a rookie named Henry "Hank" Aaron was asked to step in.
Aaron captured a batting title in 1956, and the following year took home MVP honors as he led the National League in both home runs and runs batted in. The Braves sported one of the most potent offenses in all of baseball during their time in Milwaukee, but once again the fans stopped coming to the ballpark, and once again the Braves were headed for greener pasture -- this time to Atlanta, which they still call home to this day.
Despite Aaron’s awesome offensive assault throughout the ‘60s, World Series glory still remained out of reach for the Braves. In 1974, Aaron passed Babe Ruth as Major League Baseball’s all-time leader in home runs. He would retire two years later.
Dale Murphy nabbed two straight MVP awards in ‘82 and ‘83, but the post-Aaron Braves are mostly remembered for outspoken owner Ted Turner and many, many losing seasons. It wasn’t until 1991 that the tide began to turn in favor of Atlanta. That year, the Braves became the first team to go from the worst record in baseball one year to playing in the World Series the next.
After the stunning transformation, the baseball world began to take notice of what was happening down at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium -- and wasn’t just because team mascot Homer the Brave was whipping the crowd the up into a frenzy! Skipper Bobby Cox was named Baseball Writers’ Association of America Manager of the Year following the ‘91 season, and soon thereafter, players such as Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, and Chipper Jones became household names. Maddux, Glavine, and Smoltz combined to win the National League Cy Young Award six times between 1991 and 1998, while pitching the Braves toward an unprecedented 14 divisional titles and eight National League Championship appearances in a row. Well on their way to establishing themselves as the dynasty of the ‘90s, the Atlanta Braves took home the world championship in 1995.
The Braves’ string of postseason appearances was finally snapped in 2006. While they would return to the playoffs in 2010, 2012, and 2013, Atlanta has never been able to duplicate the magic of the ‘90s. However, that isn’t to suggest that the fans have abandoned the team, as in Boston and Milwaukee. Throughout the Cox Administration, and even to this day, Atlanta consistently draws between 2 and 3 million fans a year. These diehards pack Turner Field every season, waiting for an opportunity to perform the famous “Tomahawk Chop” or to raise their loved ones in the air to be immortalized on the club’s highly inventive “Simba Cam.” Their star players may come and go, but the rest of the National League continues to bow down at the feet of the mighty Atlanta Braves.