More Than Just a Game: Sports in American Life since 1945

By Kathryn Jay | Go to book overview
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3. A Brave New World

In a stunning development, the Boston Braves won the 1948 National League pennant by six and one-half games, their first pennant since 1914. Manager Billy Southworth's team depended so heavily on workhorse pitchers Warren Spahn and Johnny Sain that the prevailing refrain in the city became "Spahn, Sain, and pray for rain." That championship was the team's high point in Boston. Though the team was an original member of the National League, organized in 1876, it had long been second in the hearts of Boston baseball fans behind the American League Red Sox. Ballpark attendance had reached one million only three times in the franchise's history, and, after a spike during the 1948 season, gate receipts dropped steadily when the team returned to the middle of the National League standings in 1949. In 1952, Hank Aaron's debut year, the future home-run king's franchise sold only 282,000 tickets. As the number-two team in Boston, the Braves could compete neither against the Red Sox nor against the appeal of new television stars such as Milton Berle or Lucille Ball. Spahn and Sain were great pitchers on a second-rate team; Berle and Ball were

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