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07 Nov

LEFT BEHIND NO. 18: Tommy Aaron

Bledsoe:

Tommie Aaron.jpgRighthanded Hitting, Righthanded Throwing Sibling
Seasons with Braves: 1962-71
Career Stats with Braves: .229/.292/.327, 13 HR, 94 RBI, 102 RS

For the last selection of the Left Behind 18 Squad:

Tommy is second on the all-time Braves list in literally every offensive category for guys named Aaron. He also holds, with his brother Henry, the major league record for most home runs by brothers: 768. Tommy was a utility man, playing every position but short, catcher and pitcher for the Braves. As for his big year, it never materialized. He did murder Juan Marichal (5 for 15).

I often wondered what it would be like to be Tommy Aaron, or Billy Ripken. You knew you had the same genes, you ate the same food, you had the same opportunities, yet you were clearly unable to carry your brother’s lunchbox. I have to think the Braves organization back then was sure that he would erupt one day and be like Hank. We now know better. Tommy kicked around as a Braves bench and first base coach for a long time. He died very young in 1984.

And yes, Tommy Aaron’s number in Atlanta was 18.

Can he make the top 44? If Hank wants him to, sure.

Tommie Aaron Statistics – Baseball-Reference.com

17 Responses to “LEFT BEHIND NO. 18: Tommy Aaron”

  1. 1
    beedee Says:

    mac,
    this piece is like school in summertime…

  2. 2
    ububba Says:

    My main T. Aaron memory is of him managing the Savannah Braves in the mid-’70s. Whenever they would come to Columbus, Ga., to play the Doulbe-A Southern League Astros, Aaron was the manager of future Braves like Murphy & Office.

  3. 3
    pascualperezfan Says:

    Totally miss the inclusion of Tommie in this ?
    I ‘ll have to reread, is the list of Braves busts over the years
    A long line folks
    Starts behind Brad Komminsk and contiunes through Ken Smith George Lombard, etc

  4. 4
    Wryn Says:

    http://www.thestate.com/mld/thestate/15932659.htm

    Lonnie Smith contemplated murdering John Schuerholz..

    “Smith blamed Schuerholz, now the Braves general manager, for blackballing him among other major league teams’ officials. Smith says Schuerholz never believed he had given up drugs in 1983, when he spent 30 days in a rehab clinic, and told other general managers Smith was a troublemaker with a dangerous history. Smith, who left Kansas City on bad terms after the ’87 season, spent much of the next year begging teams to give him a chance. When it did not happen, Smith bought a dime bag of marijuana and decided Schuerholz’s crime was a capital offense.
    “If I couldn’t get back to baseball,” Smith says, “I was going to take him with me. I was going to fly out there, wait for him in the parking lot of the stadium and pop him. If I got caught, I got caught. If not, I’d come on back home.”
    Smith pauses and extends his right hand to emphasize his point; his thumb and forefinger are extended to symbolize a gun.
    “If I did, you know, the thing, at least I took somebody out who was at blame,” he says.
    For Smith, “the thing” is a pet name for murder.”

    Thoughts?

  5. 5
    Sam Says:

    @4

    Sounds like he hit rock bottom and murder was the answer. At least for a moment. That would have been tragic and have major consequences for baseball history, in relation to right now, if that had happened.

  6. 6
    Rob Cope Says:

    Check the past couple threads for discussion on that. It’s been talked about a good little bit…

  7. 7
    Sam Says:

    @6

    *shrugs* I just decided to comment here about it. :)

  8. 8
    Wryn Says:

    I missed it, my bad

  9. 9
    PaulV Says:

    Tommie was on the path to be general manager before his tragic death

  10. 10
    Stephen now in the UAE Says:

    Since we are the subject of Braves’ history it is worth reporting here that a great Brave–Johnny Sain has died:

    http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/news?slug=ap-obit-sain&prov=ap&type=lgns

    Obviously, Sain’s 1948 seasn predates most of us, but he was part of the franscise’s lore.

  11. 11
    Godot Says:

    and also that Sain was the coach who influenced Mazzone most as a coach

  12. 12
    Kyle S Says:

    Rest in Peace, Johnny.

  13. 13
    Marc Schneider Says:

    It’s not really fair to Bill Ripken to compare him to Tommie Aaron. Bill was a decent player, at least he was a starter during parts of his career. And I’m sure he made a lot more money than Tommie Aaron. How would you like to have been Vince DiMaggio who had TWO brothers that were great players and yet he sucked? How bad would that be? Of course, anyone that even makes it to the majors deserves some respect.

  14. 14
    bledsoe Says:

    Look, Tommy is clearly here in humor and in symmetry to Mac’s list. I believe a relative of Tommy’s may be on it.

    But Tommy to Billy Ripken is not that bad an analogy. Billy was a much better defensive player than Tommy, but neither could hit their way out of a wet paper bag. Billy’s career line was .247/.294./318.

    Both Billy and Tommy were starters for some period of their career. Billy’s only real fulltime gig was 1988, when he punched out a .207 BA and .258 SLG. Pitchers slug .258. Otherwise, both were basically platooners. Billy was more useful defensively as a UI and thus had a much longer career as a defensive replacement/day off guy. But he played in less than 60 games for exactly half his ML seasons, and he averaged under 3 abs for even those games.

    But both players got major breaks cut for them by the fact that their big brothers were studs and they were drafted by the same team as big brother. Neither one would have gotten the type of major league playing time they did if their last names had been Smith, or if they weren’t playing for the same organization in which their brother was the marquee player. I am sure that both owe a lot of longevity to the fact that the club was making sure the big bopper was happy.

    There is a legend of a fourth DiMaggio brother, who reportedly was the best player of all four. No idea if it’s true.

  15. 15
    bledsoe Says:

    To wit: Billy’s seasons, games played and team

    1988 150 BAL
    1989 115 BAL
    1990 129 BAL
    1991 104 BAL
    1992 111 BAL
    1993 50 TEX
    1994 32 TEX
    1995 8 CLE
    1996 57 BAL
    1997 71 TEX
    1998 27 TEX

    No team other than Baltimore was willing to play him more than 71 games per season. The average for teams not rhyming with Schmorioles is 40 games a season. He played an average of 111 games per season in Baltimore, i.e., almost three times as much.

  16. 16
    EricR Says:

    I’m really surprised that Zane Smith didn’t make this list. He was the first young Braves pitcher of the 80’s to show some potential, although his absolute best seasons were in Pittsburgh.

  17. 17
    bledsoe Says:

    Zane was a real contender, alright. But when you look at his seasons with the Braves, including a year where he went 1-12 and was traded midseason to stop the suicide watch, he can’t make even the taxi squad.

    39-58 with a 4.06? I don’t think so.

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