Beautifully engraved RARE Specimen certificate from Milwaukee Braves, Inc.
This historic document was printed by the American Banknote Company and has an ornate border around it with a vignette of the head of a Native American shouting. This item has the printed signatures of the Company’s President, John J. McHale, and Secretary. .
Milwaukee Braves, Inc. name was changed to Atlanta Braves, Inc. on 10/14/65 Atlanta Braves, Inc. merged into Atlanta/La Salle Corp. on 5/17/74.
The Braves franchise is the oldest Major League franchise in continuous existence today. After the 1870 season, stockholders of the Cincinnati Red Stockings, the first openly professional sports team in North America, voted to disband. Red Stockings player-manager Harry Wright then moved to Boston, Massachusetts with brother George and other Cincinnati players to form the nucleus of the Boston Red Stockings in the newly-formed National Association of Professional Baseball Players. Young pitcher Al Spalding came to Boston from a rival club, the Rockford Forest Citys.
Led by the Wrights and Spalding, the Red Stockings dominated the National Association, winning four of that league's five championships. The team became one of the National League's charter franchises in 1876, changing their nickname to the Red Caps. They became more generally known as the Beaneaters in 1883, while retaining red as team colors.
Although somewhat stripped of talent in the National League's inaugural year, the Bostons bounced back to win the 1877 and 1878 pennants. The Red Caps/Beaneaters were one of the league's dominant teams during the 19th century, winning a total of eight pennants. For most of that time, their manager was Frank Selee, the first manager not to double as a player as well. The 1898 team finished 102-47, a club record for wins that would stand for almost a century. They will win the world series next ytear
The team, however, was decimated when the American League's new Boston entry set up shop in 1901. Many of the Beaneaters' stars jumped to the new team, which offered contracts that the Beaneaters' owners didn't even bother to match. They only managed one winning season from 1900 to 1913, and lost 100 games five times. In 1906, the Beaneaters (temporarily) eliminated the last bit of red from their stockings because their manager thought the red dye could cause wounds to become infected. The American League club's owner, Charles Taylor, wasted little time in changing his team's name to the Red Sox, in place of the generic "Americans". Nickname changes to the Doves in 1907 and the Rustlers in 1911 did nothing to change the National League club's luck. The team became the Braves for the first time in 1912. Their owner, James Gaffney, was nicknamed "the Brave of Tammany Hall". Tammany Hall's symbol was an Indian chief named Tammany.
Two years later, the Braves put together one of the most memorable seasons in baseball history. After a dismal 4-18 start, the fanbase was turned off, as it looked like the Braves were headed for another bottom-feeder season. Everything that could have gone wrong, did go wrong. After losing both games of a Fourth of July doubleheader to the visiting Brooklyn Dodgers, the Braves were in last place at 26-40, 15 games behind the league-leading New York Giants. The only man left believing was the team's manager, "Miracle Man" George Stallings. Slowly, the team began to turn itself around. It had solidified around the phenomenal double-play tandem of Rabbit Maranville and Johnny Evers (of "Tinker to Evers to Chance" fame), and a strong starting rotation led by Lefty Tyler, Dick Rudolph, and Bill James. When the team rallied to sweep the Cincinnati Reds in a doubleheader on July 19, Stallings declared that the team was playing ball better than any other in the league, and was ready to catch New York. From there came a romp unmatched in baseball history. When the Giants came to Boston for a three-game series on September 7-8, the Braves had won 41 of 53 games since July 4. Boston won two of the three contests to take sole possession of first place. From that point, the Braves won 25 of their final 31 games, while the Giants went 16-16. The Braves went 68-19 after July 4 to win their first pennant since 1898. Incredibly, they finished 10.5 games ahead of the second place Giants. They are still the only team to win a pennant after being in last place on the Fourth of July.
The Braves entered the World Series as a heavy underdog to Connie Mack's Philadelphia A's. Nevertheless, the Braves dominated the series in every phase, and swept away the favored Athletics--the second sweep in the history of the modern World Series--to win the world championship. The turnaround was complete. The team was at the top of the league in both pitching, and hitting, and its leader, Evers, won the Chalmers Award, which is equivalent to today's MVP. A miraculous season of these proportions has never been seen since in professional sports. The success of this team inspired the American League's Cleveland Naps to rename themselves the "Indians" after Nap Lajoie left the team following the 1914 season.
The Braves played the World Series (and before then, the last few games of the 1914 season) in the rival Red Sox' Fenway Park since their normal home, the South End Grounds, was too small. However, the Braves' success led Gaffney to build a modern park, Braves Field, which opened late in the 1915 season. It was the largest park in the majors at the time, with 40,000 seats and also a very spacious outfield. However, that number was rarely approached in the next few seasons. After contending for most of 1915 and 1916, the Braves only posted two non-losing records from 1917 to 1932. The lone highlight of those years came when Judge Emil Fuchs bought the team in 1923 to bring his longtime friend, pitching great Christy Mathewson back into the game. However, Mathewson died in 1925, leaving Fuchs in control of the team.
Fuchs was committed to building a winner, but the damage from the years prior to his arrival took awhile to overcome. The Braves finally managed to compete 1933 and 1934 under manager Bill McKechnie, but Fuchs' revenue was severely depleted due to the Great Depression. Looking for a way to get more fans and more money, Fuchs worked out a deal with the New York Yankees to acquire Babe Ruth, who had ironically started his career with the Red Sox. Fuchs made Ruth vice president of the team with a share of the Braves' profits. He also became assistant manager to McKechnie. Fuchs even suggested that Ruth, who had long had his heart set on managing, could take over as manager once McKechnie stepped down. At first, it looked like Ruth was the final piece team needed in 1935. On opening day, he had a hand in all of the Braves' runs in a 4-2 win over the Giants. However, it went downhill quickly from there. Ruth's power completely disappeared, and his fielding was abysmal. It soon became obvious that he was vice president and assistant manager in name only and Fuchs' promise of a share of team profits was hot air. Seeing a franchise in complete disarray, Ruth retired on June 1--only six days after clouting what turned out to be the last three home runs of his career. The Braves finished 38-115, the worst season in franchise history. Their .248 winning percentage is the third-worst in modern (post-1900) baseball history.
Fuchs lost control of the team soon afterward, and the new owners tried to change the team's image by renaming it the Boston Bees. However, this did little to change the team's fortunes. After five uneven years, a new owner, construction magnate Lou Perini, changed the nickname back to the Braves. He immediately set about rebuilding the team. World War II slowed things down a little, but the team rode the pitching of Warren Spahn to impressive seasons in 1946 and 1947.
In 1948 the team won the pennant, behind the pitching of Spahn and Johnny Sain who won 39 games between them. The remainder of the rotation was so thin that in September, Boston Post writer Gerald Hern wrote this poem about the pair:
First we'll use Spahn
then we'll use Sain
Then an off day
followed by rain
Back will come Spahn
followed by Sain
by two days of rain.
The poem received such a wide audience that the sentiment, usually now paraphrased as "Spahn and Sain and pray for rain", entered the baseball vocabulary. Ironically, in the 1948 season, the Braves actually had a better record in games that Spahn and Sain did not start than in games they did.
That turned out to be the Braves' last hurrah in Boston. Amid four mediocre seasons, attendance steadily dwindled until, on March 13, 1953, Perini, who had recently bought out his original partners, announced he was moving the team to Milwaukee, where the Braves had their top farm club, the Brewers. Milwaukee had long been a possible target for relocation - Bill Veeck had tried to move his St. Louis Browns there years earlier but was voted down by the other American League owners.
The Milwaukee years
Milwaukee went wild over the Braves, who were welcomed as genuine heroes. The Braves finished 92-62 in their first season in Milwaukee, and drew a then-NL record 1.8 million fans. The success of the team was noted by many owners, and the Philadelphia Athletics, St. Louis Browns, Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants would leave their original homes in the next five years.
As the 1950s progressed the reinvigorated Braves became increasingly competitive. Sluggers Eddie Mathews and Hank Aaron drove the offense (they would hit a combined 1,226 home runs as Braves, with 850 of those coming while the franchise was in Milwaukee), whilst Spahn, Lew Burdette and Bob Buhl anchored the rotation. In 1957, the Braves celebrated their first pennant in nine years led by Aaron's MVP season, leading the National League in home runs and RBIs. The postseason culminated in the Braves' first World Series win in over 40 years, defeating the New York Yankees of Berra, Mantle and Ford in seven games. Burdette, the Series MVP, threw three complete game victories, giving up only two earned runs.
In 1958, the Braves again won the National League pennant and jumped out to a three games to one lead in the World Series against New York once more, thanks in part to the strength of Spahn's and Burdette's pitching. But the Yankees stormed back to take the last three games, in large part to World Series MVP Bob Turley's pitching. The 1959 season saw the Braves finish the season in a tie with the Los Angeles Dodgers, but Milwaukee fell in a three-game playoff with two straight losses to the Dodgers. The Dodgers would go on to defeat the Chicago White Sox in the World Series. Many residents of Chicago and Milwaukee had been hoping for a Sox-Braves Series, as the cities are only about 75 miles apart, but it was not to be.
The next six years were the very definition of up-and-down for the Braves. The 1960 season featured two no-hitters by Burdette and Spahn, and Milwaukee finished seven games behind the Pittsburgh Pirates in second place. The 1961 season saw a drop in the standings for the Braves (fourth), despite Warren Spahn recording his 300th victory and pitching another no-hitter that year.
Hank Aaron hit 45 home runs in 1962, a Milwaukee career high for him, but that didn't translate in wins for the Braves as they finished fifth. In 1963, Aaron led the league with 44 home runs and Spahn was once again the ace of the staff, going 23-7. However, none of the other Braves produced at that level, and the team finished in the lower half of the league, or the "second division", for the first time in its short history in Milwaukee.
The Braves were somewhat mediocre as the 1960s began, but fattened up on the expansion New York Mets and Houston Colt .45s. To this day, the Milwaukee Braves are the only major league team who played more than one season and never had a losing record.
Perini sold the Braves to a Chicago-based group led by William Bartholomay in 1962. The ink was barely dry on the deal when Bartholomay started shopping the Braves to a larger television market. Keen to attract them, the fast-growing city of Atlanta constructed a new ballpark, Atlanta Stadium, which was officially opened in 1965. The Braves announced their intention to move to Atlanta for the 1965 season, but a lawsuit filed in Wisconsin kept the Braves in Milwaukee for one final year. In 1966, the Braves completed the move to Atlanta.
The Atlanta years
The Braves were a .500 team in the first few years in Atlanta--85-77 in 1966, 77-85 in 1967 and 81-81 in 1968. The 1967 season was the Braves' first losing season since 1952, their last year in Boston. In 1969, with the onset on divisional play, the Braves won the first-ever National League West pennant, before being swept by the "Miracle Mets" in the NLCS. They would not be a factor for the rest of the decade, only posting two winning seasons between 1970 and 1981--in some cases, fielding teams as bad as the worst Boston teams.
In the meantime, fans had to be satisfied with the achievements of Hank Aaron. In the relatively hitter friendly confines of Atlanta Stadium ("The Launching Pad"), he actually increased his offensive production, and by the end of the 1973 season had hit 713 home runs, one short of Ruth's record. Throughout the winter he received racially motivated death threats, but stood up well under the pressure. The next season, it was only a matter of time before he set a new record. On April 4 he hit #714 in Cincinnati, and on April 8, in front of his home fans, he finally beat Ruth's mark.
In 1976 the team was purchased by media magnate Ted Turner, owner of superstation WTBS. It was then that Atlanta Stadium was re-named Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. Turner quickly gained a reputation as a quirky, hands-on baseball owner. On May 11, 1977, Turner appointed himself manager, but was ordered to relinquish that position after one game (the Braves lost 2-1 to the Pirates to bring their losing streak to 17 games). This is because MLB passed a rule in the 1950s barring managers from holding a financial stake in their team.
Turner used the Braves as a major programming draw for his fledgling cable network, making the Braves the first franchise to have a regular, nationwide audience and fanbase. WTBS marketed the team as "The Atlanta Braves: America's Team," a nickname that still sticks in some areas of the country, especially the South, today.
After three straight losing seasons, Bobby Cox was hired for his first stint as manager of the franchise for the 1978 season. Cox promoted a 22-year-old slugger named Dale Murphy into the starting lineup. Murphy hit 77 home runs over the next three seasons, but struggled on defense, positioned at either catcher or first base while being unable to adeptly play either. However, in 1980, Murphy was moved to center field and demonstrated excellent range and throwing ability, while the Braves earned their first winning season since 1974. Cox was fired after the 1981 season and replaced with Joe Torre, under whose leadership the Braves attained their first divisional title since 1969. Strong performances from Bob Horner, Chris Chambliss, pitcher Phil Niekro, and short relief pitcher Gene Garber helped the Braves, but no Brave was more acclaimed than Murphy, who won both a Most Valuable Player and a Gold Glove award. Murphy also won a Most Valuable Player award the following season, but the Braves began a period of decline that defined the team throughout the 1980s. Murphy, excelling in defense, hitting, and running, was consistently recognized as one of the league's best players, but the Braves averaged only 65 wins per season between 1985-1990. The 1986 season saw the return of Bobby Cox to the Braves organization as general manager.
1990s: Successes and Stars
Cox returned to the dugout as manager in the middle of the 1990 season, replacing Russ Nixon. The Braves would finish the year with the worst record in baseball, and traded Dale Murphy to the Philadelphia Phillies after it was clear he was becoming a less dominant player. However, pitching coach Leo Mazzone began training young pitchers Tom Glavine, Steve Avery, and John Smoltz. That same year, the Braves used the number one overall pick in the Major League Baseball Draft to select Chipper Jones, who would become a star player. Perhaps the Braves' most important move, however, was not on the field, but in the front office. Immediately after the season, John Schuerholz was hired away from the Kansas City Royals as general manager.
The following season, Glavine, Avery, and Smoltz would be recognized as the best young pitchers in the league, winning 52 games between them. Meanwhile, behind position players Dave Justice, Ron Gant and unexpected league Most Valuable Player and batting champion Terry Pendleton, the Braves overcame a slow start to go 53-28 over the last three months of the season and win 8 of their last 9, edging the Los Angeles Dodgers by one game in one of baseball history's more memorable playoff races. They defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates in a tightly contested seven-game NLCS only to lose the World Series, also in seven games, to the Minnesota Twins. The series, considered by many to be one of the greatest ever, was the first time a team that had finished last in its division one year went to the World Series the next; both the Twins and Braves accomplished the feat.
Despite the loss, the Braves' success would continue. In the 1992 season, the Braves would reach the NLCS again and defeat, once again, in seven games, the Pirates, only to lose in the World Series to a dominating Toronto Blue Jays team. In 1993, the Braves signed Cy Young Award winning pitcher Greg Maddux, leading many baseball insiders to declare the pitching staff the best of all-time. The 1993 team posted a franchise-best 104 wins after a dramatic pennant race with the Giants, who won 103 games. The 1993 Braves fell in the NLCS to the Philadelphia Phillies.
After a players' strike cut short the 1994 season (and postponed the start of the 1995 campaign), the Braves returned strong. The Braves would finally win a World Series title in 1995, defeating the Cleveland Indians in six games. With this World Series victory, the Braves became the first team in Major League Baseball to win world championships in three different cities. With their strong pitching being a constant, the Braves would also appear in the 1996 and 1999 World Series (they lost both series to the New York Yankees, however), and have an ongoing streak of 14 straight division titles. But as every Braves fan knows the somehow over those 14 dominant years they messup by The Sports Illustrated Cover Curse. Pitching is not the only constant in the Braves organization. At present, Cox is still the Braves' manager, and Schuerholz remains the team's GM, though Mazzone moved on to become the pitching coach of the Baltimore Orioles shortly after the 2005 season. Pendleton did not finish his playing career in Atlanta, but has returned to the Braves system as the hitting coach.
During the Braves' rise to prominence in the early 1990s, their long-standing ethnic nickname came under much closer scrutiny. The team was especially criticized for selling plastic and foam tomahawks, encouraging the so-called "tomahawk chop" and the accompanying war cry emitted by the fans. Ironically, many of those tomahawks were made by Cherokee manufacturers in North Carolina. Their response to the criticism was the pragmatic answer, "As long as they keep buying them, we'll keep making them."
In 2001, Atlanta won the National League East division, swept the NLDS against the Houston Astros, then lost to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NLCS four games to one. In 2002, 2003 and 2004, the Braves won their division again, but lost in the NLDS in all three years 3 games to 2 to the San Francisco Giants, Chicago Cubs, and Houston Astros, respectively.
2005: A New Generation
In 2005, the Braves won their 14th consecutive division title. This title marked the first time any MLB team made the postseason with more than 4 rookies who each had more than 100 ABs (Wilson Betemit, Brian McCann, Pete Orr, Ryan Langerhans, Jeff Francoeur). Catcher Brian McCann, right fielder Jeff Francoeur , and pitcher Kyle Davies all grew up doing the tomahawk chop together in the suburbs of Atlanta. The large number of rookies to debut in 2005 were nicknamed the "Baby Braves" by fans and became an Atlanta-area sensation, helping to lead the club to a record of 90-72.
However, the season would end on a sour note as the Braves lost the National League Division series to the Astros in four games. In Game 4, with the Braves leading by 5 in the eighth inning, the Astros battled back with a Lance Berkman grand slam and a two-out, ninth inning Brad Ausmus home run off of Braves closer Kyle Farnsworth. The game didn't end until the 18th inning, becoming the longest game in playoff history at 5 hours 50 minutes. Chris Burke ended the marathon with a home run off of Joey Devine.
After the 2005 season, the Braves lost their long-time pitching coach Leo Mazzone. Mazzone was considered by many to be the best pitching coach in the league, and his Braves staff had won numerous ERA titles and Cy Young Awards. Mazzone chose to sign with the Baltimore Orioles. Roger McDowell took his place in the Atlanta dugout. That same off-season, shortstop Rafael Furcal also left to sign with the Los Angeles Dodgers. To fill the hole from Furcal's departure, the Braves acquired shortstop Edgar Renteria from the Boston Red Sox.
In December of 2005, team owner Time Warner, who inherited the Braves after purchasing TBS in 1996, announced it was placing the team for sale. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Time Warner negotiated for two months with Arthur Blank, owner of the NFL's Atlanta Falcons and original co-founder of The Home Depot, before he suspended talks in February 2006 because of a disagreement on the purchase price; there is a chance he may re-enter negotiations if Time Warner lowers their price. Other potential bidders include the media conglomerate Liberty Media; local real estate executive Ron Terwilliger; and Lew Dickey, the CEO of Atlanta-based radio station group Cumulus Media. There was some early speculation that Ted Turner himself might be interested in reacquiring the franchise, but this has been somewhat downplayed.
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About Specimen Certificates
Specimen Certificates are actual certificates that have never been issued. They were usually kept by the printers in their permanent archives as their only example of a particular certificate. Sometimes you will see a hand stamp on the certificate that says "Do not remove from file".
Specimens were also used to show prospective clients different types of certificate designs that were available. Specimen certificates are usually much scarcer than issued certificates. In fact, many times they are the only way to get a certificate for a particular company because the issued certificates were redeemed and destroyed. In a few instances, Specimen certificates were made for a company but were never used because a different design was chosen by the company.
These certificates are normally stamped "Specimen" or they have small holes spelling the word specimen. Most of the time they don't have a serial number, or they have a serial number of 00000. This is an exciting sector of the hobby that has grown in popularity over the past several years.