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"Nolan knows he has perfect mechanics. It makes no difference that he doesn't understand the mechanics. He lucked into throwing the ball right. It came naturally to him. If he had been taught, he probably wouldn't do it right."
--Dr. Mike Marshall, former Dodgers relief pitcher on Nolan Rya


Atlanta Fulton County Stadium

By Wikipedia

Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium was a baseball and football stadium that formerly stood in Atlanta, Georgia. Completed in just 50 weeks, for $18 million, it opened in the spring of 1965 as Atlanta Stadium. It was intended as the home of the soon-to-be-relocating Braves, but court battles kept the team in Milwaukee as a lame duck for a year.

At a glance...
Atlanta Stadium
Facility statistics
Location Atlanta, Georgia
Opened April 12, 1966
Closed October 24, 1996
Demolished August 2, 1997
Replaced Ponce de Leon Park
Replaced by Georgia Dome (Falcons, '92)
Turner Field (Braves, '97)
Owner City of Atlanta &
Fulton County
Surface Grass
Construction cost $18M
Architect Heery & Heery and Finch,
Alexander, Barnes,
Rothschild & Paschal
Atlanta Falcons (NFL, 1966-91)
Atlanta Braves (MLB, 1966-96)
Replaced By
Turner Field (NFL, 1997)
Georgia Dome (NFL, 1992)
Seating capacity
52,013 (baseball)
62,000 (football)
Left  330 ft.
Left-Center 385 ft.
Center 402 ft.
Right-Center 385 ft.
Right 330 ft.

Left 330 ft.
375 ft.
402 ft.
375 ft.
330 ft.
1973 only
Left 330 ft.
375 ft.
402 ft.
385 ft
330 ft.

Left 330 ft.
385 ft.
402 ft.
385 ft.
330 ft.

The new stadium had a lame duck of its own for that first season: the Atlanta Crackers of the International League, whose previous home had been Ponce de Leon Park at 650 Ponce de Leon Avenue. In 1966, both the NL's transplanted Atlanta Braves and the NFL's expansion Atlanta Falcons moved in. The Falcons moved to the Georgia Dome in 1992, while the Braves had to wait until the Olympic Stadium from the 1996 Summer Olympics was renovated into Turner Field to move out at the beginning of the 1997 season. The stadium sat 60,700 for football and 52,013 for baseball.

The stadium was relatively nondescript, one of the many saucer-shaped multipurpose facilities built during the 1960s. The stadium was long known for the poor quality of the field of play no one bothered to hire full-time groundskeepers until the early 1990s, instead relying on a city work crew.

The relatively high elevation meant that the stadium was relatively favorable to long-ball hitters, giving rise to the nickname The Launching Pad. That factor helped boost Henry Aaron's home run output, and he reached the all-time record sooner here than he might have in Milwaukee, even if the effects of County Stadium were more dramatic in the 1950s than in the 1960s.

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One unusual feature of this stadium is the fact that, unlike most baseball stadiums used for football where the football field is laid either parallel to one of the foul lines or running from home plate to center field, the football field here was laid along a line running between first and third base. Thus, a seat behind home plate for baseball would also be behind the 50-yard line for football. (It shared this characteristic with the Oakland Coliseum).

The stadium was refurbished for the 1996 season because it hosted the Olympic baseball competition. It probably looked better in many ways in its last season than it had in its first.

Launching Pad !

Outside Atlanta Fulton County Stadium, circa 1973.

Photo by NARA

04/12/1966 Pirates 3, Braves 2
Umpires Bill Jacklowski, Ed Sudol
  Paul Pryor, John Kibler
Managers Bobby Bragan, Braves
  Harry Walker, Pirates
Starting Pitchers Tony Cloninger, Braves
  Bob Veale, Pirates
Ceremonial Pitch Atlanta Mayor Ivan Allen Jr.
Attendance 50,671
Batter Matty Alou (pop out)
Hit Gene Alley (single)
Run Joe Torre
RBI Joe Torre
Single Gene Alley
Double Jim Pagliaroni (04/13/1966)
Triple Matty Alou (04/13/1966)
Home Run Joe Torre
Grand Slam Hank Aaron (06/27/1967)
IPHR Willie Mays (06/01/1966)
Stolen Base Hank Aaron
Sacrifice Hit Tony Cloninger
Sacrifice Fly Ken Boyer (04/24/1966)
Cycle Jim Ray Hart (07/08/1970)
Win Don Schwall
Loss Tony Cloninger
Shutout Vern Law (04/13/1966)
Save Billy O'Dell (04/22/1966)
Hit by Pitch Dick Selma hit
Denis Menke (04/23/1966)
Wild Pitch Bob Veale
Balk Clay Carroll (06/22/1966)
No-hitter Phil Niekro (08/05/1973)
Primary research by Jim Herdman & David Vincent
Courtesy of Retrosheet

On October 28, 1995, the Braves defeated the Cleveland Indians on a one hit, 8 inning performance by future Hall-of-Famer Tom Glavine to achieve the only Atlanta Braves World Series championship thus far, despite many National League East championships. Through the 2004 season, the Braves have resided in three cities and have one World Series ring to show for each.

While Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium was an immediate success upon its opening in 1966, it was in decline by the mid-Super70s with some games were attended by less than 1000 paying customers. In fact, the Braves drew less than a million for eight straight years in the Super70s. Attendance wasn't much better in the Awesome80s. Even during Dale Murphy's MVP season, crowds rarely approached 25,000.

Rest in Piece(s)

Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium was imploded on August 2, 1997. A parking lot for Turner Field now stands on the site, with an outline of the old stadium, and a plaque marking the spot where Hank Aaron's historic 715th career home run landed on April 8, 1974, in what was formerly the Braves bullpen.

The Launching Pad's last bit of glory came during the 1996 Olympic Games held in Atlanta.

Related Books on Ballparks
The Ballpark Book: A Journey Through the Fields of Baseball Magic by Ron Smith and Kevin Belford.
Ballpark: The Story of America's Baseball Fields by Lynn Curlee
Ballparks: A Panoramic History by Marc Sandalow and Jim Sutton.
Ballparks by Robert Von Goeben and Red Howard.
Ballparks: Then & Now by Eric Enders.
Baseball Vacations: Great Family Trips to Minor League and Classic Major League Ballbarks Across America by Bruce Adams and Margaret Engel.
Blue Skies, Green Fields: A Celebration of 50 Major League Baseball Stadiums by Ira Rosen.
Diamonds: The Evolution of the Ballpark by Michael Gershman.
Fields of Dreams: A Guide to Visiting and Enjoying All 30 Major League Ballparks by Jay Ahuja
Green Cathedrals: The Ultimate Celebration of All Major League and Negro League Ballparks by Philip J. Lowry.
Joe Mock's Ballpark Guide by Joe Mock.
Lost Ballparks: A Celebration of Baseball's Legendary Fields by Lawrence S. Ritter.
Roadside Baseball: A Guide to Baseball Shrines Across America by Chris Epting.
Take Me Out to the Ballpark: An Illustrated Tour of Baseball Parks Past and Present by Josh Leventhal and Jessica Macmurray.
The Ultimate Baseball Road-Trip: A Fan's Guide to Major League Stadiums by Joshua Pahigian and Kevin O'Connell.
Video: Story of America's Classic Ballparks
Video: Baseball: A Film by Ken Burns

Economics of Stadiums
City Baseball Magic: Plain Talk and Uncommon Sense about Cities and Baseball Parks by Philip Bess.
Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money into Private Profit by Joanna Cagan and Neil deMause.
Public Dollars, Private Stadiums: The Battle over Building Sports Stadiums by Kevin J. Delaney and Rick Eckstein.
Sports, Jobs, and Taxes: The Economic Impact of Sports Teams and Stadiums by Roger G. Noll and Andrew Zimbalist.

General Stadium Reference:
Sports Staff of USA Today. The Complete 4 Sport Stadium Guide. Fodor's, 1996.

Stadium Design and Financing References:
Philip Bess. City Baseball Magic: Plain Talk and Uncommon Sense about Cities and Baseball Parks. Knothole Press, 1999.
Joanna Cagan and Neil deMause. Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money into Private Profit. Common Courage Press, 1998.
Mark S. Rosentraub. Major League Losers: The Real Cost of Sports and Who's Paying for It. HarperCollins, 1997.
Kevin J. Delaney, Rick Eckstein. Public Dollars, Private Stadiums: The Battle over Building Sports Stadiums. Rutgers University Press, 2004.
Roger G. Noll and Andrew Zimbalist. Sports, Jobs, and Taxes: The Economic Impact of Sports Teams and Stadiums. Brookings Institution, 1997.
Dean V. Baim. The Sports Stadium as a Municipal Investment. Greenwood Publishing, 1994.
Stadia: A Design and Development Guide by Geraint John and Rod Sheard. Architectural Press, 2000.
Michelle Provoost, Matthjis Bouw and Camiel Van Winkel. The Stadium: Architecture of Mass Sport. NAI Publishers, 2000.

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The Launching Pad from Space!

USGS Photo

Year by Year statistics: for Atlanta Stadium

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