- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
Murphy's 27th homer in the third inning Thursday night gave the Braves a 2-1 lead, and his 28th in the fifth drove Bravesmania to new heights. The gentle giant reluctantly answered the crowd's cheers with a tip of the cap.
In the meantime, Turner was sitting behind the dugout, feet propped up on the roof. "Alice in Wonderland," he said. "That's what this feels like. I'm a 9-year-old on his first trip to Disneyland." Turner missed some of the excitement last month when he was on the Amazon with Jacques Cousteau. The expedition aboard the Calypso was for a series the Turner Broadcasting System has partially underwritten to the tune of $4 million. "They had a satellite phone on board," said Turner, "so I called in every night to find out how the Braves did."
While he was talking, Turner was signing autographs (one on the back of somebody's eye patch), asking people, "You get the cable?" and telling his secretary, Rachel Styles, "I want a letter sent to Ruppert Jones, thanking him for the fine sportsmanship he displayed not running over Phil Niekro at first base last night." Jones leaped over a diving Niekro, injuring his own right foot, and spent the rest of the week on crutches.
When the game was over, the score was 6-2, the Padres were whimpering and the Braves were whooping. "This was the high point of my career," said Jerry Royster, who had two hits, one a two-run triple, and made several fine plays in a rare start at shortstop. The low point? "That's easy. The night in 1977 when we lost our 17th in a row and had that manager for one night." The manager, you may recall, was Ted Turner.
Said Torre, "That 13-game winning streak we had to open the season was like a guy telling everybody he is going on a diet. He has to do it. Why suffer for a month if you're going to eat like a horse for the next two months?" Torre celebrated Thursday's victory by ordering a half mushroom, half sausage-and-mush-room medium pizza from the Sons of Italy II for himself and Pitching Coach Bob Gibson. Call it 'Shroom At The Top.
Friday night's twi-night doubleheader with the Dodgers was the earliest sellout in Atlanta history. After 53 dates, they have drawn 1.28 million fans and will easily surpass the Atlanta record of 1,539,801 set in 1966, their first year down South. They're shooting for 2 million. A parking-lot survey on July 4 found fans from 22 different states. The ticket-sales department began the year with three telephone lines, and now 16 aren't enough to handle the requests.
Blake Cullen, the National League's administrator, was in town Friday to scout out the logistics for the playoff crunch. The Braves have reserved rooms all over town for October. Seated with Turner on Friday night were Jimmy Carter, wife Rosalynn and Miss Lillian.
The Braves went up 6-1 after four, thanks to two homers by lightly used First Baseman Bob Watson. Like Murphy the night before, Watson took a bow. Starter Rick Mahler was breezing along. Even after the Dodgers scored two runs in the fifth, the Braves answered with two in the bottom half of the inning. What a glorious night this was going to be in Atlanta. After all, the Dodgers had a 3-37 record in games in which they were trailing after the sixth inning.
In the sixth the Dodgers narrowed the gap to 8-5, but Steve Bedrosian was on the mound for Atlanta, and the rookie hadn't allowed a run in his last 27 innings. In the seventh, though, Bedrosian gave up a two-run homer to Ken Landreaux (the centerfielder's second for the night) and ended up being charged with five runs as Los Angeles took a 10-8 lead. In the ninth, the Braves scored once and had men on first and third when pinch hitter Claudell Washington grounded to second to end the game. The nightcap prolonged the nightmare for Atlanta as Bob Welch pitched a six-hitter and Ron Cey and Garvey drove in three runs apiece in an 8-2 L.A. victory.
The doubleheader sweep reminded Garvey of a July 1 doubleheader in 1973. Then, the young Dodgers were playing the role of the Braves, and the Reds were the Dodgers. "This was a little déjà vu. Hal King hit a three-run pinch homer in the bottom of the ninth to beat us in the first game, they won the second, and in a matter of time they eliminated our 11-game lead and won the division. If there's such a thing as justice, hopefully it will happen again."