The oldest continually operating sports franchise in America was also the first major league sports team in the Deep South. Mayor Ivan Allen Jr. played a key role in luring the Braves to Atlanta by building Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium with the expectation of bringing professional sports to the city. On April 12, 1966, the Braves played their first regular season game in the new stadium before a sellout crowd of more than 50,000 fans. Mayor Allen had the honor of throwing out the ceremonial first ball.
“The Atlanta Braves have summoned every emotion possible out of Atlanta and Georgia as a whole.”
—Community submission to Atlanta in 50 Objects
During the 1970s, all eyes were on right fielder Hank Aaron as he approached and then broke Babe Ruth’s home run record. After struggling in the mid-to-late 1980s, the Braves made a stunning turnaround in the 1990s, famously going “worst to first” in 1991 and became the most successful Major League Baseball team of the decade. The “team of the nineties” turned out six Cy Young Award best-pitcher winners, two National League Most-Valuable-Players, five World Series appearances, one World Series championship, and began a streak of fourteen consecutive division titles, 1991-2005.