South Atlantic League (1985-1990)
Died: 1991 – The Braves relocate to Macon, GA.
Stadium: Riley Park
Owner: Atlanta Braves
The Sumter Braves were the Class A affiliate of the Atlanta Braves in the South Atlantic League during the late 1980’s. It was a flush era for the Braves farm system and many of the future stars of Atlanta’s National League dynasty of the 1990’s came through Sumter on their way up the ladder.
Hall-of-Famer Tom Glavine went 9-6 in 26 starts for Sumter as a 19-year old in 1985. Ron Gant and Mark Lemke split time at 2nd Base for that 1985 club. Lemke returned in 1986 and belted 18 home runs, tops on the club. Future All-Star David Justice, then 20 years old, add 10 homers and 61 RBIs.
Ryan Klesko and Mark Wohlers arrived in 1989. Both returned to Sumter in 1990 as well and both would become key contributors to Atlanta’s 1995 World Series championship team.
Attendance was notably weak in Sumter throughout the Braves era. The team rarely sold more than 200 season tickets and average crowds were well below 500 per night. Following the 1990 season, the Braves pulled out and moved their Sally League farm club to Macon, Georgia. Sumter got a new team, the Sumter Flyers, in the South Atlantic League for the 1991 season. The Flyers served the Montreal Expos, but they last only one season before leaving town as well.
Former Sumter Braves General Manager (1987-1990) Ed Holtz died of an aortic aneurysm on October 6th, 1995. He was 65 years old.