Atlanta Braves Top 10 Managers in History: #10 – Lum Harris

The 1969 Atlanta Braves fought their way to a division title. (Photo by Heritage Art/Heritage Images via Getty Images)
The 1969 Atlanta Braves fought their way to a division title. (Photo by Heritage Art/Heritage Images via Getty Images) /
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Atlanta Braves
Atlanta Braves left fielder Rico Carty returned to the team in 1969 after missing the 1968 season with Tuberculosis. Mandatory Credit: Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Network. /

Atlanta Braves call Harris

In 1966, Harris’ mentor Paul Richards took over as vice president for player personnel with the Braves – effectively the general manager – and hired Harris to manage the Triple-A Richmond Braves in 1967. When Billy Hitchcock lost his job halfway through the season, Lane convinced Bill Bartholomay Harris was the man for the job.

In his first full season, Harris drug the Braves to a .500-record despite a series of injuries to key players and Rico Carty going down with tuberculosis. Expansion to twelve teams in 1969 put the Atlanta Braves in the NL West. Carty returned in May; Richards had traded Torre for an aging Orlando Cepeda, weakening the lineup, but Harris kept the team in the hunt.

In the West and in the hunt

The Atlanta Braves led the NL West for 14 days in April, clawed their way back into the lead on May 5, and held it until June 21. The same story replayed itself until September 9, when they found themselves four games back in a four-team dog fight for the NL West title after losing to the Dodgers on a walk-off in the tenth.

The next day the Braves returned the favor, walking off the Dodgers. When the Giants arrived for a three-game set, the Braves swept them out of town. The Astros came to town and met the same fate; the Braves headed to San Francisco 1.5 games up but lost both games to the Giants.

The turnaround

They arrived in San Diego in second place, a half-game back after splitting the two-game set in LA, the Braves took all three in San Diego, followed that with a three-game sweep in Houston, returning to Fulton County Stadium 1.5 games ahead.

The Padres arrived and left three games later with nothing to show for their trip to Atlanta. The Brave won their tenth straight the next day to go 2.5 games up and lock up the NL West title.

The Braves were 73-62 on the morning of September 1 and, after a 20-7 in September, ended the year 93-69.