Atlanta Braves Franchise best managers: #7 Billy Southworth

Atlanta Braves Hall of Famer Warren Spahn led the Boston Braves to the National League Championship in 1948. (Photo by Mark Rucker/Transcendental Graphics, Getty Images)
Atlanta Braves Hall of Famer Warren Spahn led the Boston Braves to the National League Championship in 1948. (Photo by Mark Rucker/Transcendental Graphics, Getty Images) /
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Fifty years after his death, the Hall of Fame finally enshrined Billy Southworth as one of history’s great managers. (Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /

A short comeback

The headaches and weakness Southworth felt were probably stress related. Medical doctors cleared him to return in 1950, and results improved. The Braves finished 83-71-2, eight games out but still in fourth place.

The Braves’ last year in Boston was also Southworth’s last year as a manager. The clubhouse and roaster didn’t feel the same, he didn’t feel the same fire to win, and he resigned in June.

Southworth joined the Braves again in 1952, this time in Milwaukee as a scout, and spent time as an instructor at the Braves Minor League camp in Georgia. He left the game for good when his contract ended in December 1956 and died in 1969.

Epilogue

Hall of Fame voters ignored Southworth’s six 90-win seasons, four NL Pennants, two World Series Championships, a career record of 1044-704, and .597 winning percentage for 50 years. In 2007 a Hall of Fame Veteran’s Committee corrected this snub and finally enshrined Billy Southworth and Dick Williams.

"The most appropriate epitaph for Southworth is quoted by Harold Kaese (in The Milwaukee Braves), coming from the Boston Globe: “The Braves were an old club, crabby, bitter, set in their ways. Players who could no longer deliver blamed their ineptness on Southworth. Victory, which sugar-coated the bitterness underneath last season, eluded the crippled Braves and left bare the acrid taste of defeat, futility and animosity. Southworth, one of the great managers, could not cope with the situation. Perhaps he was too aloof, too domineering, too cocky, and while he did not need the friendship of his players, even he could not afford to lose their respect.”"

That’s a wrap.

Billy Southworth’s story is a rollercoaster of success at all levels of the game and devastating personal losses that resulted in depression and occasional reliance on alcohol.

dark. Next. Honest John

The Atlanta Braves Franchise has had its share of colorful managers and great managers, Billy the Kid has a place on both lists. His record as a manager includes 340 more wins than losses, and his plaque on the wall in Cooperstown say Southworth was one of the best the game’s seen.