Box 19, Folder 7, Document 40

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‘Menday, April 18, 1966


Page 17

The big night in Atlanta when baseball officially came to town.

At right are the new romeseln Braves with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Sports Observer Watches the Braves Go to Bat in Atlanta

Baseball Moves Into Dixie in the Fight of Its Life


Football Is THE sport in Atlanta. It is
the prime subject of cocktall-hour conver-
sation, the source of vast income for just
about any college that fields a team (¢a-
pecially if tt wins), and the tle that binds
old alumni to their alma mater.

However, as much as Southern fans
love football, they ey admit that
it isn‘t a year-round spa the winter,
they watch pasbetball occasionally in the
flesh but more often on the television
tube, And in the summer, well, there is
baseball, But baseball is a poor second
or third sport, To many Southerners, it's
something to watch on television in an
air-conditioned room while sipping a beer
or mint julep, perhaps while whistling
‘the favorite football aes ans Ramblin’
Wreck From Georgia Tech.

Major-league baseball has for several
generations been a blg—perhaps the big-
gest—sport in the East and Midwest. In
recent years, it expanded to California
gpd Texas. Last week it came to the
woutheast, the bastion of the gridiron, the

producer of Major-league baseball greats
‘Gut (untll now) supporter of only minor-
league teams, the virgin baseball land.

‘A Court Ultimatum

When the ex-Boston, ex-Milwaukee
Braves made thelr move south, It was in
the of what may be the greatest
iene organized baseball has ever known,

n the day afier the Braves opened In
atlanta, in Cireult Judge Elmer
W. Roller ruled they had violated state
antitrust laws and must return to ‘Mil-
waukee after May 17 uniess the National
League agreed by noon May 14 to expand
next year and put a team in Milwaukee.

Baseball answered that the Judge docs
not have the jurisdictional power to force
baseball ae return, and polnted to a 1922
ruling by the Supreme Court that base-
oail has certain unities from amt-
trust Uabllity. The Braves plan to appeal,
and the case may go all the way to the
U8. Supreme Court. Before it's over, the
case could affect all professional baseball
aa It's now structured.

ee as Judge Roller was putting the
touches to his ruling (which
gare ‘Wisconsin all i had asked for), the
‘Braves made the move a fail accompli by
their regular season In Atlanta
amidst an orderly but enthusiastic wel-
come, It was the city's biggest organized
celebration since the world premiere of
Gone With the Wind, the South's a v
‘the Civil War, in 1939. There were
tons attended by top baseball otficlals
and local political leaders, too many
cocktail parties to keep up with, and a
parade viewed by a crowd estimated by
pollee at 250,000 but nearer 100,000.
Amidst all the hullabaloo, however,
many an Atlantan voiced private mizglv-
ings about baseball's future here. “Will
it be successful? I ly don't know" was
the almost invariable answer.

A Dwindling Crowd

‘The crowd of 50,671 at the clty's beau-
tiful year-old stadium on opening night

included some knowledgeable baseball
‘enthusiasts, But many more spectators
were there simply because it was a land-
mark in thelr proud elty's history. The
game was a good one (the Braves lost to
Pittsburgh, 3-2, fn 13 Innings), but by the
eighth Inning, with the score deadlocked at
1-1, many in the crowd left. By the 10th
inning, about half the crowd remained.

The following might, attendance was
down, as might be expected. After all,
there Is only one opening night. However,
the size of the crowd was down far more
than might have been expected: 12,721 In
an $18,000,000 stadium that seats 52,000
for baseball and 55,000 for foothall.

A crowd of only 11,000 for a pre-season
exhibition with the World Champion Los
Angeles Dodgers prompted a sarcastic

column by the Los Angeles Times’ Jim
Murray, who sald the 42,000 empty seats
Tade more polse than the 11,000 occu-
Pied by what he called “Confederate
statues." Granted, the crowd would have
been larger If Sandy Koufax had been
Uhere. But how many Koufaxes are there?

Bullding up major support for the
Braves will take time, and Atlanta's in-
defatigable mayor, Ivan Allen, Jr., knows
ft. Major-league baseball has long been
emphasized in the area's press, but en-
thusiasm must be nurtured, The city has
a long baseball history; the old Atlanta
Crackers hung more pennants from their
flagpole than any other team in minor
league history, However, baseball interest
has declined in recent years. In M47 the
Crackers became the first double-A team
to draw 400,000 pald spectators. ‘This fig-
ure dropped to 256,000 by 1957. This
wouldn't begin to pay for a major-league
team, but !t must be remembered the
Crackers weren't In the major leagues.

‘The Ticket Sales

Ag of last week, only 4,000 season Uck-
ets had been sold. This stands in marked
contrast to Atlanta's pro football team,
the Falcons, who aren't even a team =
and must start from scratch. Last Noy, 1,
the opening day for season-ticket sales,
Falcon officials were swamped with 1, 000
requests for the elght-game $45 tickets,
By Christmas Eve the sale was closed at
just over 45,000—and 25,000 additional re-
quests came In. In the Falcons, Atlantans
must expect several losing seasons by a
bullding team, while In the Braves they
have a potential pennant winner.

The long, bitter legal war with Mil-
waukee for the Braves’ ownership obvi-
ously teket Atlantans:

one-team city, and Milwaukeeans too oe
the 8 AS & personal Insul

The saraves had denied such a move an
on considered while actually moving

equipment a they tried
to buy thelr way out a year before their
contract explred, offering 3 Milwaukee 24
times as ae money as they had ald in in
rental fees the year before. Atlanta, as-
sured the Braves would be there for the
1685 season, had pald an extra $700.
to have the stadium finished In time,

Venting his. city's wrath on Atlanta,
George Rice, first assistant counsel for
Milwaukee County (which owns the Mil-
‘waukee stadium) officially warned Atlanta.
in October 1964 his city would sue to keep
the Braves. He demanded that Atlanta
retract its offer to the team and threat-
ened “lo sek recourse In the courts for
Injunctional relief from your [Atlanta's]
malicious conduct and continued interfer-
ence with an existing contract."

Faced with this threat, the Braves re-
luctantly returned to a hostile Milwaukee
amd drew only 555.584 pald spectators all
season. The Braves played six times—all
exhibitions—In Atlanta in 1985 and drew
194,000. In order to keep its new stadium
from sitting idie, Atlanta flelded a team
in the International League and drew 151,

Political Repercussions

The delay, which threatened to drag
‘out indefinitely in the courts when Mil-
Waukee refused to give up even after the
Braves’ stadium contract expired, also
jeopardized Mayor Allen's political career.
‘His opponents called the stadium “Allen's
White Elephant," and a political storm en-
sued before the 1965 election. But he sur-
vived, as did the Braves in Milwaukee.

Mr, Allen had first run for mayor in
1961, placing great stress on the need for
A major sporta stadium. His predecessor,
William B. Hartsfield, had blocked such
a structure. “Baseball fans are made up
of filling-station operators, taxicab drivers,
and garbage collectors," Hartsfield once

ae .
National Observer Photagraghs hy Themas DeFec

To Mayor Allen and Atlantans, civic pride is akin to motherhood.

It’s a happy day for Marcia Platt, the Beawou Festival queen.

said. “I ET eee games.
They (the fans) boo mi

Sports enthusiasts had chafed under
this pronouncement, and knew Atlanta
could not get a professional football reas
—thelr long-cherished dream—uniess
baseball team came along to share the
rent. And they believed no major-league
team would come to town unless there
was a new stadium.

Allen, a shrewd businessman and for-
mer Chamber of Commerce president,
knew this, He also knew that a major-
league stadium would enhance Atlanta
from a business standpoint. In addition to
the vast préstige, Atlanta would get more
visitors. More visitors meant more Tas
more money meant more tax
which can be used for other civic ine

Well-Heeled Help

A recent Chamber of Commerce study
estimated that Ban Francisco fans spent
$11,271,000 directly and indirectly in 1961
watching the Glants attain third place in
the National League. Half the money came
from out of town. Using a formula sug:
gested by the Federal Reserve banks,
which estimate each dollar changes hands
79 times in a given area, the chamber
calculated the turnover as $328,860,000.

ane was the driving force for bulld-
ing new stadium, but he had some
well nesled help, Mills B. . president
of the Citizens and Southern ‘Bank, put
up about $700,000 of his own money in
the early stages, and Arthur L. Mont-
gomery, president of the local Coca-Cola
franchise, became head of the Atlanta-
Fulton County Recreation Authority, the
organization that eventually got the proj-
ect moving.

“If we don't bulld a stadium, it ts
golng to damage seriously our city's
growth," the mayor told a meeting of
elty, county, and state officials in seeking
thelr help. “To give Atlanta its proper
Place in the national picture, we must
have major-icague sports, and this is the
way to get it done.” There were no dis-
senting votes.

Appealing to Atlanians’ civic pride, the
mayor had hit home. Civic pride to At
lantans is something akin to motherhood
for most Americans. They are proud of
thelr beautiful city. Of the 24 million-plus
cltles In population In the United States,
Atlanta was Usted this month by the 0.8.
Department of Labor as the fastest grow-
ing economically, It is the mation’s
eleventh largest clty in banking, eighth
in number of residential units authorized
for construction, fourth in airport traifle.
‘Leas than 1.8 per cent of ‘atlanta ‘3 adults
are unem

it is also the Southeast's leading busl-
fess and educational center. Georgia
Tech, located here, is a perennial football
power, and its gridiron successes over the
decades have whetted the area's appetite
for football. Graduates from many of
‘Tech's opponents live in the area, amd fill
Grant Field In Atlanta to see thelr alma
maters (such as Georgia, Alabama, Au-
burn, and Tennessee) take on the Yellow
Jackets. Lack of this factor—reglonal

RETA hurt the Braves. The
An League tearm isin Wash
ington, @40 miles ane and closest
National League team is
miles distant. In sinatra the Braves
could always get “grudge” against
Chicago, #0 ime distant. ‘Atlantana don't
bear much emotion for or against any
other city in the league.

In time, 25 Atlanta continues to grow,
such rivalries may develop. Tradition
Stands tall bere in the rie “ae and
a few memorable games may spur sup-
port for the Braves ai as ed else can
do, The Braves may never see al ince
here to match the 2,215,404 who turned
out In Milwaukee in 19597.

‘The team obviously intends to stay—
it signed a 2-year contract with the sta-
dium authority—unless Milwaukee accom-
ie the feat of forcing them back

north, The Braves have spent a lot of
money moving South, and they expect a
good return on thelr Investment.

Room to Draw From

From a business standpoint, the Braves
are In the best position since the Glants
and Dodgers went West. y could
easily draw spectators from a seven-state
area, whereas many teams must be con-
tent with the northern or southern por-
thon of a state. The Atlanta Chamber of
Commerce estimates 3,900,000 persons live
in a 100-mile Tadius of Atlanta, In a 200-
mille radius it ts 10,714,000 and in a 200-
mile radius it Ls almost 20,000,000.

‘To whet these potential customers" ap-
petites, the Braves have set up a regional
radio network of about 36 stations and a
felevision network of 19 stations In Geor-
Florida, Alabama, North Carolina,
South Carolina, and Tennessee, The team
sold its radio-television rights for $2.-

Just as people in this area take great
Bride in being Southerners, they may in
time take pride in thelr Braves. The At-
Janta Stadlum may have been appealing
to this pride on opening night when, amid
whistles and rebel yells, its million-dollar
scoreboard flashed out the following foot-
note on history:

“What happened om April 12, 1861:

First shots fired on Fort Sumter.

What happened on April 12, 1966:

The South Rises Again.”

yng een

| Sports Eye

® When Jack Nicklaus won the Masters
golf tournament last week, he caused
@ problem in protocol. Tradition calls for
the previous victor to help the new cham-
pion into his green coat, which sym-
bolizea the winner of golf's most pres-
gious tournament. However, Nicklaus
also won last year—the
first person io win two
constcullve Masters
crowns — and
ment officials § were
scratching their heads
and reading protocol
books. He solved the
problem by slipping without ald Into the
same coat he had won last year. Nicklaus
is only 26 years old, and has won the
Masters three times. This year's victory
was his narrowest, for he was forced into
an 18-hole play-off at the Augusta, Ga.,
course with Tommy Jacobs and Gay
Brewer. They had Wed in regular play
with even-par scores of 283. In the play-
off, Nicklaus shot a two-under-par 70 to
edge Jacobs by two strokes and capture
the $20,000 first prizt. Jacobs won $12,300
for his second-place finish, and Brewer,
who slumped to a 78, recelved $8,300,


* Philadelphia won the battle (for the
National Basketball Association's Eastern
Division title in regular season play), but
Boston won the war, The Celtics captured
the Eastern Division play-offs last Tues-
day from the team that had edged them
out of the regular-season crown by a sin-
gle game. Boston won the best four-of-

etverrgaine lay-off, four games to one,
twice defe: the Téers on thelr home
floor. The, Celtics will be seeking thelr

elghth Lanes league crown when they
meet the Los jase Lakers, who last
week edged out 55, is in the Western
final. For the Celtics" conch, Arnoid “Red”
Auerbach, it's the end of the line. He's


* Although Boston Celtics won the East-
em Division play-offs again this year, they
didn't place anyone on the National Bas-
ketball Association's (NBA) all-confer-
ence first team. Wilt ‘of the
Philadelphia Téers, voted the league's most
valuable player, replaced the Celtics" Bill
Russell as center this season on the all-
star first team, Cincinnatl's Oscar Rob-
ertson missed by one vote belng a unan-
Imous choice on the team, chosen by 86
aportswriters and sportscasters. In addl-
lon to Chamberlain and Robertson, the
first team Includes the NBA's rookie of
the year, Rick Barry of San Francisco,
Jerry West of Los Angeles, and Jerry
Lucas of Clacinnatl,

. Ta
iirst race last week In more than t

in, Ey, Ing
es ‘early: SEASON pale that had sidelined
im for most of Florida's

cate season. Two other
Derby contenders raced
last week, Priceless Gem,
Mrs. ite Jacobs" filly,
showed she was back at

York City's Aguedict pr am lengths,
later was disqual

other horse early nt the cite: Clalborne
Farms" Moccesin, the 1965 filly champlon,
nes her first start of the season after

to get blocked bebind four other horses
in another race at Keeneland.


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