Box 17, Folder 7, Document 41

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Text Item Type Metadata


commer, LVFOPLAN

November 2, 1964 - Chicago, Illinois

615 Peachtree Street, N. E. Atlanta, Georgia 30308 * Phone 872-9592

The Braves' baseball club today filed Answer in Federal Court in Milwaukee, charging
that Milwaukee County, not the Braves, breached the lease which Milwaukee County

claims requires the Braves to play in Milwaukee in 1965.

Braves' Answer says that although the lease runs until December 31, 1965, it had an
implied covenant that the County of Milwaukee would not interfer with, obstruct or
frustrate the Braves enjoyment of the lease, The Answer asserts that in malicious
disregard of such covenant, Eugene Grobschmidt, Chairman of the County Commission-
ers of Milwaukee County, broadcast public statements implying that persons of re-
sponsibility in the Braves' management were deliberately trying to have the Braves
not win games, Additionally the Answer charges that the county failed to protect
the Braves against ticket speculators operating on Stadium premises, and failed in
its committment to "make up" to the Braves for failures of season ticket sales and

radio and TV income,

The Braves' Answer asserts that by these various breaches, the County of Milwaukee
deprived the Braves of its lawful rights and relieved it from any further perfor=

mance under the lease.

The Answer recites that the Braves' 1963 season resulted in a loss in excess of
$800,000 under accounting methods approved by the Internal Revenue Service and that
attendance figures show that Braves attendance has dropped from 2,215,000 in 1957
to 773,000 in 1963 and 910,000 in 1964 and alleges that 85% of the increase between
1963 and 1964 came about because Braves, in an effort to offset the disparagement

of it by county officials and others, sold 119,000 tickets at reduced rates.

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In explaining the Braves' d├ęsire to move to Atlanta, Georgia the Answer says: "A
professional baseball team cannot fulfill the avowed purpose of the League to per=
petuate baseball as the national game of the United States unless it is self=<sus-
taining and profitable; that it is essential that a professional baseball team be
able to compete with other professionel athletic endeavors in acquiring skilled
players at attractive rates of compensation; that the reduced attendance figures set
forth above, and necessarily increasing costs, will result in a substantial loss....
for the current season. Defendant shows that for the foregoing, among other reasons,
and because Atlanta, Georgia is the hub of the southeastern portion of the country
and reasonably is believed to have many sports enthusiasts who will support this
Defendant rather than revile end frustrate it as Plaintiff has, its directors,
exercising their judgment in the premises, arrived at the reasonable conclusion that
the best interest of the sport and this Defendant would be served by moving to


Braves further takes the position that it is relieved of all obligations to Milwaukee
County, but that if the Court holds otherwise, it is able to pay the $175,000 which
the county has estimated it will receive in prospective rental payments in the year
1965. It asserts: "That the successful playing of professional baseball is more
thoana mere business or mechanical matter; that a professional baseball team cannot,
and should not, be required to play in the face of public antipathy and hostility to
them or their management; that a court of equity will not enforce professional

servitude under such conditions",

Braves' president John J. McHale said: "We had hoped to be able to stay in Milwaukee
but the events of 1964 have made it impossible. Our tax return for 1964 will show
a loss of an estimated $500,000. Furthermore, Major League baseball players cannot
be expected to play under the conditions that have come into existance during the
past year. An unwelcome, anti-baseball atmosphere has developed as the result of

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reckless, irresponsible statements of county leaders and others. It is a miracle

our team did as well as it did in 1964.

"Despite the harassment we have been subject to, the Braves have enjoyed the support
of many loyal people in Wisconsin. We are appreciative of that and regret leaving
them. Perhaps after we have left and tempers have cooled, some other team may be

able to make a success in Milwaukee. We hope so,
"Because the County of Milwaukee has taken us into court, and out of respect to the

courts, any additional statement of our position must be made there".

ft fh.

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