The Atlanta Braves franchise has a long history. That history began on this day.
On January 20, 1871, a franchise was formed for an upcoming league to be called the National Association of Professional Baseball Players. That franchise would become the team that we all cheer for, the Atlanta Braves.
After the 1970 season, the first all-professional team, the Cincinnati Reds, voted to dissolve the team. Key members of the team, including player/manager Harry Wright and his brother George Wright then went to Boston to found the Boston Red Stockings as the charter member of the NAPBBP. The NAPBBP dissolved after 5 seasons, and Boston was dominant through the short run of the league, winning four of the league’s five championships.
Boston moved to the National League when the NAPBBP dissolved, changing their name to the Red Caps, and after a rough 1876 season, Boston won the next two league championships.
The organization has seen a number of name changes, all through the time in Boston. The Red Stockings were called the Red Caps starting in 1876 (the official team name did not change, but the Cincinnati club was back together by the time Boston joined the NL and they had seniority to claim the Red Stockings name), and they kept that name until 1883 when they changed the team name to the Beaneaters.
The organization won 5 pennants in the 1890s as the Beaneaters, but the launch of an American Association team in Boston stripped the team of its talent after the turn of the century, losing 98 games by 1904 and then suffering through two 100+ loss seasons in 1905-1906. Hoping to improve the team’s fortunes, the name was changed to the Doves in 1907.
That lasted just four seasons as the losses continued to mount. One season in 1911 as the Rustlers led to the first year as the Boston Braves in 1912. They held to that name for 20 years before another horrific year in 1935 (115 losses) led to a name change to the Boston Bees, a name the team had until the 1941 season, when the name returned to the Braves.
In Boston, the team made two World Series, winning the series in a sweep in 1914 and losing in 1948 4 games to 2 against the Cleveland Indians. The Braves were one of the first teams to make a move West, and they found immediate success, going from an 89-loss team in Boston in 1952 to a 92-win team in Milwaukee in 1953.
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The Braves would remain in Milwaukee through 1965, never suffering a losing season while in Milwaukee. The Milwaukee Braves went to back-to-back World Series in 1957 and 1958, winning the Series in 1957 in 7 games before losing it by the same margin in 1958. Sadly, that would be the last World Series of legend Hank Aaron‘s career with the Braves organization.
The move to become the Atlanta Braves came in 1966. By 1969, the Braves made the playoffs, but they were surprised by the upstart Miracle Mets. The team returned to the NLCS in 1982, but most of the years from 1969 to 1991 outside of 1982-1983 were pretty rough times to be an Atlanta Braves fan.
Starting in 1991, the Atlanta Braves won their division in every completed season for 14 straight seasons, making the World Series five times, breaking through with a victory in 1995 over the Cleveland Indians, coincidentally by the same 4-2 margin that they lost to the Indians organization in 1948.
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The Atlanta Braves can rightly claim that they are the longest continuous-running professional baseball team, and it all began on this day in 1871.