Bill Bartholomay
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Bill Bartholomay, who moved Braves to Atlanta, dies at 91

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ATLANTA — Former Braves owner Bill Bartholomay, who moved the franchise from Milwaukee to Atlanta in 1966 to become Major League Baseball’s first team in the South, has died. He was 91.

Bartholomay died Wednesday at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, according to his daughter, Jamie.

Braves Hall of Famer Hank Aaron said on his Twitter account Bartholomay “was the greatest owner I ever had the pleasure to play for. He understood the game of baseball more than so many others. I’ve known him for a longtime and he’s helped me in more ways than you can imagine. I will surely miss my friend.”

Bartholomay attended spring training at the Braves’ new facility in North Port, Florida, last month before the coronavirus pandemic caused MLB to suspend spring training and delay the start of the season.

In the 1990s, Bartholomay provided key support to baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, who grew up in Milwaukee rooting for the Braves and later owned the Brewers.

Bartholomay headed the group that sold the Braves to Ted Turner in 1976 but retained a partial interest and remained as the team’s chairman until November 2003, when he assumed an emeritus role.

“There is baseball in Atlanta today because of Bill Bartholomay,” the Braves said in a statement Thursday.

“He was part of our organization for the last 57 years and never missed an opening day or significant event,” the team said. “He was a dear, thoughtful friend whose presence will be missed, but his legacy will surely stand the test of time for the Atlanta Braves and all of baseball.”

Bartholomay was a Chicago area-based insurance executive, and he helped sell many insurance policies for player contracts to big league clubs.

Bartholomay led the group that owned the Milwaukee Braves before making the controversial decision to move the team to Atlanta. Despite death threats, he completed the move.

He remained with the team when Turner took control and when Time Warner acquired the franchise in 1996 as the company merged with Turner Broadcasting System.

Bartholomay was inducted into the Braves Hall of Fame in 2002.

The team said Bartholomay deserved credit for “helping shape Atlanta as a major city in the South when he relocated the Braves from Milwaukee to Atlanta in 1966. His warmth and grace were felt equally by presidents, MLB commissioners, business titans, Braves players and fans.”

After Selig became chairman of baseball’s executive council in 1992, Bartholomay headed the commissioner search committee that recommended Arnold Weber, then the Northwestern University president, and Harvey Schiller, then with the U.S. Olympic Committee. But owners suspended the search and Selig wound up remaining in power until 2015. Bartholomay also headed MLB’s ownership committee.

“Besides being one of the most important figures in the game of baseball for more than five decades, Bill Bartholomay was truly a wonderful person and one of my closest friends in the world,” Selig said.

“His wise counsel and calming views were critical throughout my years as baseball commissioner. My wife, Sue, and I will miss him terribly and we offer our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends.”

Nationals’ major leaguers to continue offering financial assistance to minor leaguers

Sean Doolittle
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On Sunday, we learned that while the Nationals would continue to pay their minor leaguers throughout the month of June, their weekly stipend would be lowered by 25 percent, from $400 to $300. In an incredible act of solidarity, Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle and his teammates put out a statement, saying they would be covering the missing $100 from the stipends.

After receiving some criticism, the Nationals reversed course, agreeing to pay their minor leaguers their full $400 weekly stipend.

Doolittle and co. have not withdrawn their generosity. On Wednesday, Doolittle released another statement, saying that he and his major league teammates would continue to offer financial assistance to Nationals minor leaguers through the non-profit organization More Than Baseball.

The full statement:

Washington Nationals players were excited to learn that our minor leaguers will continue receiving their full stipends. We are grateful that efforts have been made to restore their pay during these challenging times.

We remain committed to supporting them. Nationals players are partnering with More Than Baseball to contribute funds that will offer further assistance and financial support to any minor leaguers who were in the Nationals organization as of March 1.

We’ll continue to stand with them as we look forward to resuming our 2020 MLB season.

Kudos to Doolittle and the other Nationals continuing to offer a helping hand in a trying time. The players shouldn’t have to subsidize their employers’ labor expenses, but that is the world we live in today.