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1982 and the Original 13-0 Start

April 15, 2023

Hugh Atkins

The Tampa Bay Rays began the season with 13 straight wins before falling to the Toronto Blue Jays last night. If the Rays could have managed one more victory, they would have broken the major-league record for consecutive wins to begin a season. The Milwaukee Brewers won a baker’s dozen to start the 1987 campaign, but the Rays’ success brought back fond memories of the 1982 Atlanta Braves, the first team to begin a 13-game winning streak on Opening Day.

The Braves’ historic streak was filled with exciting games and unlikely heroes. They opened the season with a lineup of Brett Butler in center field, Glenn Hubbard at second base, Claudell Washington in right field, Bob Horner at third base, Dale Murphy in left field, Chris Chambliss at first base, Bruce Benedict at catcher, Rafael Ramirez at shortstop, and Rick Mahler on the mound. Joe Torre was in his first season as the Atlanta manager.

AP-NS-04-22-82 0402CST

The record-setting streak began on April 6 with Mahler tossing a 1-0 shutout against the San Diego Padres. Mahler was an unlikely opening-night starter, having won just eight games in his career going into the season. Phil Niekro, the scheduled starter, was unable to pitch due to an injury.

The Braves knocked off the Padres in the second game of the season and headed home. After winning their first two games against the Houston Astros, Mahler fired a five-hit shutout as the Braves ran their streak to five; Nolan Ryan was the losing pitcher.

After three more wins, Mahler took the mound against Houston in the Astrodome. He pitched three and 1/3 innings of shutout baseball before the Astros touched him for three runs. But the Braves scored five off of Ryan in their half of the sixth inning, and their bullpen held the Astros scoreless the rest of the way to run the streak to nine.

On April 18, pinch-hitter Biff Pocoroba drove in the game-winning runs with a two-run double in the eighth inning as the Braves knocked off the Astros by a score of 6-5. It was the Braves’ 11th win,and they surpassed the National League record for season-opening victories previously held by the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers and the 1962 Pittsburgh Pirates. 

The Braves returned to Atlanta and beat the Cincinnati Reds in the first game of the homestand to extend the streak to 12 and set the stage for a dramatic, come-from-behind victory for their 13th win that I watched on Superstation TBS.

The Braves trailed 3-2 heading into the bottom of the ninth. Matt Sinatro led off the inning for the Braves with a walk. Ramirez then pushed a bunt past the pitcher for a hit, and hope was alive.

After pinch-hitter Rufino Linares lined out to center field, Butler smacked a hard-hit grounder to short that struck Sinatro on the heel. Sinatro was out, leaving Ramirez on second and Butler at first. It was at this point that I figured the Braves’ luck finally had run out.


But Reds’ reliever Jim Kern threw a wild pitch, advancing Ramirez to third and Butler to second. Kern then issued an intentional walk to pinch-hitter Pocoroba, loading the bases for Washington. Reds’ manager John McNamara then summoned left-hander Joe Price to face the left-handed hitting Washington. Price brushed Washington back with his first pitch, but Washington lined the next pitch into center field, scoring Ramirez and Butler to give the Braves a 4-3 win.

Kudos to the Rays on their recent success, but I’m glad the 1982 Braves still share the record for most consecutive wins to start the season.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Skip Nipper permalink
    April 15, 2023 6:34 pm

    Loved this Hugh. It brought back memories of great Braves players. Thank you…


    Liked by 1 person

  2. April 16, 2023 11:59 am

    Whenever I think Of Brett Butler the Dodgers and Giants come to mind, I completely forgot he played for the Braves.

    Great piece, Hugh.


    • April 16, 2023 3:02 pm

      Thanks, Gary. That Butler (and Brook Jacoby) for Len Barker trade with Cleveland didn’t work out too well for the Braves.

      Liked by 1 person

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