As we count down the days to 2018’s opening day, we take a look at the greatest Braves to wear each jersey number that’s been worn.
Carty wore #43 for 4 seasons, and they were among his most productive. In 1964, he was runner up for the NL Rookie of the Year award, slashing .330/.388/.554 with 22 HR. He remained productive in 1965 and then after moving to Atlanta. In his 4 years wearing #43, he hit .306/.368/.478, averaging 21 HR and 85 RBI per 162 games. Carty missed the 1968 season, however, and upon his return, wore #25. So, that’s it for #43.
Because Carty already got a spotlight, I thought I’d take a moment and celebrate the 2nd best player to wear #43, the man who threw the most important pitch in Braves history, Mark Wohlers.
Wohlers wore #43 more seasons than any Brave, donning it each year of his Atlanta career, 1991-1999. He collected 112 saves in the jersey, peaking in 1995 and 1996. In those two seasons, Wohlers saved 64 games with a 2.60 ERA and 190 K’s in 142 innings, and the latter season featured his only All-Star appearance. Wohlers’ brilliance was something of a blip on the radar – ’97 was somewhat average, and it’s best not to speak of what happened after that – but his brilliance came at the best time possible, as he was a reliable 9th inning presence for an organization that had struggled with its end-of-game identity during the formative years of its dynasty.
He took part in the team’s combined no-hitter in 1991 (which you learned about just 7 days ago), which was pretty cool. However, a Wohlers section needs but one highlight. Here it is:
That’s the #43 that’s burned into your memory. Carty may have been more valuable and obviously a better player, but Wohlers gets the ink thanks to that pitch. Thanks for bringing me a championship, Mark. You’ll always be one of my favorite Braves for that reason alone, regardless of any sliders you may or may not have hung to future criminals on down the line.
Honorable Mention: Wes Covington, who in basically one full season of plate appearances spread over the 1957-58 seasons, hit .305/.358/.577 with 45 HR and 139 RBI for a team that would win one World Series and lose in Game 7 of another.
Who is the best ever to wear #43?
Dennis Eckersley. It’s an easy choice, and no one else comes close.
Like Wohlers, Eck was also on the mound for a classic World Series moment: