He launched the first successful cable news network with CNN, sailed to victory in the America's Cup and used his cable empire to turn his Atlanta Braves into "America's Team. After the year-old Turner put on a Braves uniform and stepped into the dugout to manage his tanking team for one game on May 11,National League president Chub Feeney, supported by baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn, gave him the thumb.
Anyone who owned stock in a team was forbidden to manage it, they told him. The Braves had lost 16 straight. A doubleheader sweep by the Pirates in Pittsburgh on May 10 dropped Atlanta to So the following afternoon, Turner told manager Dave Bristol to take 10 days off.
He would manage the team for a while to see what was going wrong. The move took the players and coaches by surprise. Dominion post business reporters in atlanta also took Kuhn and Feeney by surprise -- Turner hadn't informed them, either.
Braves infielder Darrel Chaney, who was close with Bristol, remembers getting a call in his hotel room from his manager, asking him to meet him in the lobby.
I'll be back in two weeks. Before the game, everyone knew. And then Ted came in and put his uniform on, and it was 'Can you believe this?
Often Turner would come into the clubhouse before and after games to talk baseball, and occasionally went on road trips with the team. But on this day, Turner was on the field in a blue-and-white Braves uniform, wearing No. You want to lead off? You want to hit second or third?
We just lost 16 in a row.
You've been around here long enough. Hit wherever you want to. Put me in that ninth spot. Though Turner was the manager and had final say, Benson was de facto manager that night, says Cannizzaro. He also remembers watching Turner watch Pirates manager Chuck Tanner.
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Like he was trying to figure out what to do. The Pirates scored runs in the first and third innings and won to extend the Braves' losing streak to 17 games.
Niekro pitched a complete game, and Turner -- or Benson -- didn't use a pinch hitter until the ninth inning. There was no doubt Turner wanted to win, though.
Chaney says Turner was a "rah-rah kind of guy" that night, clapping his hands and yelling encouragement. On a dirt surface, the ball would likely have stayed in the park and the runner would have scored from first, says Chaney.
But Tanner then brought in Goose Gossage to close out the game, stranding runners on second and third. But that would be his one and only day as a big league manager.
The next day, with Benson managing, the Braves won to end the streak. Bristol was back for the next game -- when the Braves lost again en route to a season. A year later, Turner told a writer for Playboy magazine that he just wanted to see from the dugout what was going wrong.
I asked him if it was OK if I went and managed in the minors for a year and really learned how to do it. Niekro loved him for the way he didn't put on airs, showing up in the clubhouse after games in shorts and sandals.
Cannizzaro knew Turner would do anything to bring people to the ballpark. And Chaney knew Turner always wanted to win, no matter what. One of his lasting visions: Turner beating the Phillies' Tug McGraw in a race to see who could be first to push a baseball reports at the time say it was an egg up the baseline with his nose.
When Ted got up from rolling the ball he had blood from his forehead all the way down the top of his nose. Those kinds of things he wanted to win, even something like that.
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