Who is the first player you think of when you think of the Braves? Hank Aaron, right? Of course. Maybe Warren Spahn. If you’re a child of the 80s, perhaps Dale Murphy. A 90s kid? Greg Maddux, right? Why is Eddie Mathews never mentioned?
Mathews is one of the greatest third basemen of all-time. JAWS actually puts him at #2 behind Mike Schmidt, and ahead of Wade Boggs, Adrian Beltre, George Brett, and Chipper Jones. He hit 512 home runs…the magic number for Hall of Fame entry in the pre-steroid era. Except it took five ballots to get Mathews in the door. Can you believe that on his first ballot, Mathews only received 32.3%? How on earth does 67.7% of the electorate not see him as an all-time great? His first three years, actually, he came in with less than 50% of the vote! In his fifth year, 1978, finally 79.4% of the voters decided he was worthy of immortal status.
Henry Aaron’s Dream
by Matt Tavares
Candlewick Press, 2010
When Hank Aaron was young, there were no black men playing baseball in the major leagues. Jackie Robinson‘s debut in 1947 paved the way for players like Aaron to show the world their talents. Author Matt Tavares writes about a time in Aaron’s life many ignore: his early years in Mobile, Alabama, and his brief time in the Negro Leagues with the Mobile Black Bears and Indianapolis Clowns. There are also several pages devoted to Aaron’s life in the minor leagues, both on and off the field, and finally his ascent to the majors in 1954. Though he was not the first black baseball player, Aaron still faced a great deal of racism as he played the game he loved.
Much like There Goes Ted Williams, the best part of Henry Aaron’s Dream is the artwork. Written for third through seventh graders, Tavares’ artwork makes the story come alive for youngsters who are being taught about the legends of baseball as well as important social issues. There is nothing new here for long-time fans of the great home run hitter, but the beautiful illustrations easily make it worth the purchase price.
(February 25, 1921 – October 8, 2013)
An outfielder who played for the Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee Braves, and Brooklyn Dodgers, Andy Pafko passed away yesterday at the age of 92. He had a good career, batting .285 with over 200 home runs, but is probably most known today as card #1 in the 1952 Topps set. Pictured above is his 1951 Bowman issue.
by John Klima
Thomas Dunne Books, 2012
The Boston Braves were a struggling franchise. No one wanted to go to their games—which they couldn’t win anyway—and financial problems beset the team. Owner Lou Perini made the bold decision to move the team out of Boston where the Red Sox reigned, and head west to Milwaukee. Mocked by “those in the know” who thought the city was too small to support a franchise, Perini established the Braves as a force to be reckoned with in Milwaukee, drawing upon the city’s insatiable appetite for big league ball. In a matter of years, the Milwaukee Braves would defeat the New York Yankees in a seven-game World Series to become baseball’s champions.
Author John Klima brings to life the story of the 1957 Milwaukee Braves team in Bushville Wins! Beginning with Perini’s initial decision in the early part of the decade to relocate and the assembling of the players, leading up to the story of the season itself and the Series that saw the “Bushers” outplay the perennial favorite Yankees, Klima highlights the players and personalities that made it all possible, from Hank Aaron to Eddie Mathews, Warren Spahn to Lew Burdette. After laying the groundwork, Klima devotes the final one hundred pages of the book to the World Series itself. It is, as the cover suggests, the “wild saga” of a team that no one expected to win, and a team that laid the groundwork for baseball’s expansion to the west. Fans of baseball history, especially of the Milwaukee Braves, will treasure this volume.