On May 10, 1977, Ted Turner—the budding media mogul and owner of the sad-sack Atlanta Braves—told manager Dave Bristol to take 10 days off after losing 16 games straight. Turner, the “Mouth of the South,” knew nothing about managing a baseball team or that Major League Baseball prohibited people who owned stock in a team from coaching that team. No worries. The following day, he waltzed into the locker room of Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh in a baseball uniform, chomping a cigar (Braves reliever Buzz Capra had to shove a towel in his mouth to stop laughing). Turner leaned on bullpen coach Chris Cannizzaro and third-base coach Vern Benson for advice, and observers noticed Turner would cross his legs when the Pirates’ coach did the same. The Braves lost 2-1. “If I’m smart enough to buy the team, I ought to be smart enough to manage it,” Turner told reporters afterward. “This is like a game to me. This is just a big Little League team.” MLB Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, already frustrated with the brash owner’s antics, pulled him from the dugout, leaving Turner with a career coaching record of 0-1.
This article appears in our May 2019 issue.