The History of the Milwaukee Braves
In 1953, for the first time since 1903, a major league franchise moved cities. Milwaukee was just completing the construction of County Stadium, hoping to attract a major league team whilst also preparing for the Milwaukee Brewers minor league season. On March 18th, 1953, Lou Perini (the owner of the Boston Braves) announced his team was headed west, to Milwaukee.
The Braves were based in Milwaukee, and calling it home, for thirteen glorious years before heading to Atlanta after an ownership change. In those thirteen years the Milwaukee Braves never had a losing season - a unique claim. Fan support was huge and a matter of great pride for people in Wisconsin. The Milwaukee Braves set attendance records and shattered expectations.
The Braves won two pennants, in 1957 and 1958, and one World Series defeating the New York Yankees in game 7 of the 1957 Fall Classic. Five future Hall of Famers played for the Braves - Eddie Mathews, Warren Spahn, Red Schoendienst, Phil Niekro, and the hugely famous Henry Aaron. Whilst in Milwaukee, the Braves were the main event, and even more popular than the Green Bay Packers.
The Braves' success in Milwaukee allowed baseball to redefine itself as a big business. Franchises relocated west, there was multi-league expansion, and teams were leveraging cities for civically funded stadiums. From 1954-1957, the Braves drew more than two million fans per season—incredible numbers back then, and still not too bad in some markets today. In 1959, they lost a three-game playoff to the Dodgers. The Dodgers managed to out-draw the Braves in the pennant fever sweepstakes that season. The Braves were still going strong, but they had already peaked. Nobody realized it at this time, but when the decline came, it happened quickly. Still to this day, many people in Milwaukee feel a sense of regret at having lost the Braves.
The Braves' rapid rise to success made their equally fast fall from grace all the more stunning, as poor attendance led the team to Atlanta in one of the worst splits between a city and baseball franchise we have ever seen. The town fought furiously to keep the Braves but in the end lost them to Atlanta after the 1965 season. The Milwaukee Braves remain known as an all-time classic team however, and many people have great memories of those times. Baseball in Milwaukee is much richer for having had the Milwaukee Braves.