Milwaukee Braves All-Stars of the 1950s
A Baseball Diamond
The 1950s was a special time for a young boy in Wisconsin to be following the Milwaukee Braves. In 1953 the Braves had just moved from Boston to Milwaukee. Unknown to many, the Milwaukee Braves had a lot of good players who were just beginning their careers in the early 50s. They included Eddie Matthews, Hank Aaron, Joe Adcock, Bob Buhl, and Lew Burdette. These players were all managed by Charlie Grimm 1953-1955.
Becoming a Braves Fan
I first became acquainted with Braves players from their picture cards which were inside of Johnson cookie boxes and also from bubblegum cards. In August of 1953, dad also took me to my first Braves game at old Milwaukee County Stadium. We sat in the left field bleachers and I got to see up close players like Del Crandall, Billie Bruton, and Warren Spahn. Milwaukee played the woeful Pirates in a doubleheader on Sunday and won both games!
After we moved out to the farm in 1954, I listened to a lot of Braves games on WTMJ AM radio out of Milwaukee. Earl Gillespie was the voice of the Braves and he made all of his game broadcasts so colorful!
I got to know all of the Braves in the starting lineup, and on occasion was able to see them live or on television. My uncle took me to two or three-night games in either 1954 or 1955. When the Braves played the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field, I was able to watch the games on WGN TV out of Chicago.
Up until 1960, I remember following the Milwaukee Braves very closely. 1957 was a very special year when the Braves finally won the National League pennant and then defeated the New York Yankees in the World Series. During my junior and senior years in high school, I seldom followed the Braves, and by the time I went away to college in 1962, I rarely listened to or watched Milwaukee Braves games.
Milwaukee Braves All-Stars of the 50s
The Milwaukee Braves had a lot of good, young and exciting players in the 50s. If I had to choose my Braves all-stars during the seven-year period 1953-1959, I would choose the following players by position.
First Baseman - Joe Adcock
"Jolting Joe" Adcock was a right-handed slugger who played with the Milwaukee Braves from 1953 through the 1962 seasons. Over his whole career 1950-1966, Adcock had a .277 batting average with 336 home runs and 1,122 RBIs. He was also a great defensive first baseman holding a career .994 fielding percentage.
In addition to being a two-time all-star, Joe hit four homers in one game on July 31, 1954. He also broke up Harvey Haddix's 12 inning no-hitter in 1959 with a home run.
Throughout the 50s, Adcock was overshadowed by first basemen Ted Kluszewski and Gil Hodges, and also by his teammates Hank Aaron and Eddie Matthews.
Second Baseman - Red Schoendienst
Albert Fred "Red" Schoendienst was undoubtedly the best second baseman for the Milwaukee Braves during the 1950s. Schoendienst played for the Braves 1957-1960, although his whole career which was mostly with the St. Louis Cardinals spanned from 1945 through 1963.
Red Schoendienst was a 10 time all-star with a lifetime batting average of .289. He was also an excellent defensive player. In 1957 after Milwaukee acquired Schoendienst in a trade with the New York Giants, Red batted .309 and led the Braves to their first NL pennant in Milwaukee and World Series victory. During 1957, Schoendienst was third in voting for NL MVP.
Shortstop - Johnny Logan
Johnny Logan played shortstop for the Milwaukee Braves 1953-1961 with a lifetime batting average of .268. Logan was a four-time all-star during the 50s. Johnny Logan was also a hard-nosed, spark plug kind of player. He definitely was one of the leaders of the Milwaukee Braves.
Third Baseman - Eddie Matthews
Eddie Matthews played third base for the Braves from 1952 through the 1965 seasons. In 1952, as a rookie with the Boston Braves, Matthews hit 25 home runs.
Matthews finished his career with a .271 batting average and 512 home runs and 1,453 RBIs. He was a 12-time all-star and for nine straight seasons hit at least 30 home runs. In 1953 and 1959, Matthews led the NL in home runs.
Known first as the Santa Barbara Bomber and later the Brookfield Bomber after he moved to Milwaukee, Eddie Matthews was very popular among kids. With teammate Hank Aaron, Matthews and Aaron were probably the most feared 3 and 4 hitters in the Braves lineup during the 50s. When opposing pitchers faced them, it was like going from the frying pan into the fire.
Eddie Matthews was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1978.
Right Fielder - Hank Aaron
Henry "Hammerin Hank" Aaron was one of the best players to wear a Milwaukee Braves uniform during the 1950s. In a career from 1954 through the 1976 seasons, Hank Aaron played with the Braves from 1954 through the 1965 seasons.
Aaron had a lifetime .305 batting average with 3,771 hits, 755 home runs, and 2,297 RBIs. For three years, Hank was also a Gold Glove winner.
Hank Aaron was an all-star for more than 20 years and NL MVP in 1957. He was the batting average champ in 1956 and 1959, and in 1957 led the NL in home runs.
Aaron was also elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Center Fielder - Billy Bruton
Billy Bruton played center field for the Milwaukee Braves 1953-1960. As a leadoff hitter, Bruton was best known for his speed and defense. From 1953 through 1955, Billy Bruton was the NL stolen base leader. He had a career batting average of .273. I can always remember hearing the crowd yelling "Go, go!" in encouraging Bruton to steal bases at Milwaukee County Stadium.
Left Fielder - Wes Covington
Wes Covington played left field for the Milwaukee Braves 1956-1961. As a minor league call-up in 1957, Covington hit .284 with 21 home runs and 65 RBIs in 96 games. Wes Covington had a lifetime .279 batting average and is best known for making defensive plays helping Lew Burdette win games in the 1957 World Series.
Catcher - Del Crandall
Del Crandall was a catcher for the Milwaukee Braves from 1953 through the 1963 baseball seasons. In a career running from 1949 through 1966, Crandall had a lifetime batting average of .254 with 179 home runs and 657 RBIs.
Crandall was an all-star throughout the 50s and won Gold Gloves 1958-1960. He was an excellent handler of pitchers reflected in the fact that during the period 1953-1959, Braves pitchers finished first or second in ERA except for 1955.
1. Warren Spahn
Warren Spahn pitched for the Milwaukee Braves 1953-1964. Actually, Spahn spent almost his whole career with the Braves beginning with them in Boston in 1942.
Over his career, southpaw Spahn won 363 games and lost 245 with a lifetime ERA of 3.09.
Warren Spahn was a 17-time all-star and led the NL with wins in 1950, 1953, and 1957-1960. In 1957, Spahn won the Cy Young Award. He also is a member of the Hall of Fame.
With a high leg kick, Spahn had an excellent fastball when younger, and then developed a great screwball when older. He was also a very good hitter.
2. Lew Burdette
Lew Burdette was a right-handed hurler who played for Milwaukee 1953-1963. In a career spanning 1950-1967, Burdette had a 203-144 record with a lifetime ERA of 3.66.
During the period 1953-1961, Burdette won 15 or more games eight times. He was a two-time all-star in 1957 and 1959, and World Series MVP in 1957.
Burdette was a slow and deliberate pitcher. Many suspected that he threw a spitter, but it was never proven.
3. Bob Buhl
Bob Buhl was another right-handed pitcher who played for the Milwaukee Braves 1953-1962. In a career which ran from 1953 through the 1967 seasons, Buhl had a lifetime record of 166-132. He had 1288 strikeouts, 20 shutouts, and a career 3.55 ERA. In 1956 and 1957, Buhl won 18 games each year.
Known as the Dodger killer, Bob Buhl had an 8-1 record against the Dodgers in 1956. Along with Warren Spahn and Lew Burdette, Buhl was an important member of the big three that helped Milwaukee win the pennant and World Series in 1957.
Manager - Fred Haney
Fred Haney who managed the Milwaukee Braves 1956-1959 is my choice for the Braves best manager of the 1950s. With a lifetime record of 341-231 with Milwaukee, Haney managed the Braves to two NL pennants 1957-1958 and a tie for the pennant in 1959. He also led the Braves to its World Series win in 1957.
Favorite Milwaukee Brave of the 1950s
Who was your favorite Milwaukee Brave of the 1950s?
It will be a very long time before Milwaukee has another Major League baseball team like the Milwaukee Braves. As a boy, I was following the Braves at the right time and place in history. God knows when Milwaukee will experience another decade like the 50s which produced Hall of Famers like Eddie Matthews, Hank Aaron, and Warren Spahn.
© 2016 Paul Richard Kuehn