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Legends of Yesteryear: Ted Turner Tried

Credit: Atlanta Journal-Constitution and R.C. Greenawalt

My personality is such that I could never own a professional sports team, whether baseball or any other sport. Even if it’s not a team that already has a piece of my heart, I could not handle being an owner. Even if I purchased a team about which I have no pre-existing feelings, like the Minnesota Twins, I could never become their owner. The simple fact that a team was now mine would transform my attitude into caring way too much on a personal level. Therefore, I would quickly succumb to the temptation to treat my real team like my fantasy sports teams. Unfortunately, I would meddle and micromanage my front office, coaches, and players. No owner should be down in the dugout, suggesting which reliever to call from the bullpen. Certainly no owner should ask a player if he likes being in the big leagues and if he wants to try harder or get sent back to AAA.

Philadelphia Phillies owner John Middleton and New York Mets owner Steve Cohen both have my immense respect for the same reasons. Both gentlemen are first and foremost lifelong fans, who grew up and now are able to afford to own their favorite teams. Most importantly, both gentlemen have likewise mastered the art of appropriately balancing and limiting themselves regarding when and how they become personally involved in running their childhood teams.

On the other hand, on this day in history, Ted Turner provided the most extreme example ever in real life of an owner behaving exactly as I would behave if any sports league was foolish enough to let me become a team owner. Enjoy my retelling of the legend of my all-time favorite baseball anecdote for today’s anniversary of the event.


🎵 Braves Lost 16, Going On 17 🎶

Once upon a time in the magical land of baseball, Ted Turner, the renowned media mogul and owner of the Atlanta Braves, had a brilliant idea. The year was 1977, and the Braves were having a terribly rough season. After losing 16 games in a row, Turner decided to don his baseball cap, roll up his uniform sleeves, and take matters into his own hands. Turner decided he would personally manage the Atlanta Braves.

The day was May 11th, and the stage was set for an unforgettable baseball game at Three Rivers Stadium. Ted Turner, the self-appointed manager of the Atlanta Braves, proudly strutted out of the dugout, clipboard in hand, ready to turn the tide for his team. He chose for himself to wear number 27.

As Turner surveyed the field and the players, he couldn’t help but think to himself, “How hard could this managing thing be?” After all, he was a successful entrepreneur, a titan of industry! Surely, success against the Pittsburgh Pirates should be achievable?


The Road to 17 Straight Losses is Paved with Good Intentions

As the game began, Turner quickly realized that managing a baseball team was not as simple as it seemed. He scrambled to make sense of the line-up, the statistics, and the various signals the players were giving him. The Braves, seeing their owner’s enthusiasm, couldn’t help but chuckle at the sight of their billionaire boss trying to decipher the secret language of baseball.

The game progressed, and Turner’s attempts at managing the team became more and more comical. Hall of Famer Phil Niekro pitched a complete game for Turner. The two men had joked together earlier that day about where in the lineup Niekro should bat. Somehow, despite all the chaos and confusion, the Braves managed to keep the game close, 2-1.

As the 9th inning approached, the crowd held their breath, wondering about a possible miraculous win. Turner, still determined to prove his managerial prowess, concocted a master plan. He called for Darrel Chaney to pinch hit. Technically, he was a switch hitter. Yet never in his entire career, until Ted Turner gave the order, had Chaney ever pinch hit from the right side. Somehow he finagled a ground rule double.

But then the Pirates bullpen shut down the game. In the end, the Braves lost the game, extending their losing streak to 17. The crowd roared with laughter as the Braves’ owner-manager turned a shade of red that could only be described as Coca-Cola can crimson. It was a baseball game they would never forget.

The very next day, Turner’s brief stint as a baseball manager came to an abrupt end. Chub Feeney, the President of the National League, unamused by Turner’s impromptu managing escapade, ruled that no owner could manage their team. When Major League Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn’s rejection of Turner’s appeal was read aloud, the Braves fans loudly booed the commissioner’s decision. After Turner begrudgingly handed back the managerial reins, he couldn’t help but chuckle at his adventure. 

Lessons Learned Via Legend

At the end of the day, the legend of Ted Turner’s unforgettable foray into baseball management lives on forever. This legend reminds us that sometimes, it’s ok to try something new. Afterwards, it’s ok to laugh at yourself when you swing for the fences and miss. The End.


Jeremy Cerone is a lifelong baseball fan. As a native Philadelphian, he was born and raised as a Phillies fan. He played second base as a kid, even before Chase Utley made it cool. Later, in college, he adopted the Yankees as his American League team. The Phillies remain securely as his first love in baseball. Sports journalism and commentary have fascinated him since childhood. If Mars fielded a baseball team and played the Atlanta Braves, Jeremy would openly cheer for the Martians.

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