As we end the year, let us remember members of the Braves organization who passed away in 2023.
July 13, 1948 - November 13, 2023
Atlanta Braves: 1975-1978
Born in Germany, Rob Belloir was a graduate of Southwest High School in Atlanta and Mercer University in Macon, Ga., from which he was drafted in the eighth round by the Cleveland Indians in 1969.
He joined Atlanta as the player to be named later in a June 1975 trade that sent Roric Harrison from Atlanta to Cleveland for Johnny “Blue Moon” Odom.
Belloir spent parts of four seasons with Atlanta, playing in a total of 81 games for the Braves as a shortstop, second baseman and third baseman. In 189 plate appearances, he slashed .216/.268/.257.
Most of his appearances happened in the 1975 and 1976 seasons as he saw action in six games in 1977 and two games in 1978 including a double in his final big-league at bat.
March 20, 1941 - August 27, 2023
Atlanta Braves: 1990 - 2006
Although Pat Corrales appeared in 300 games during his nine-year MLB career - and managed in more than 1,200 games between the Texas Rangers, Philadelphia Phillies and Cleveland Indians - it was with the Atlanta Braves that Corrales saw the longest contiguous tenure in more than 50 years in baseball.
Hired by Bobby Cox to coach first base in 1990 after a single season in the New York Yankees organization, Corrales was with the Braves organization for 17 years - coaching first base through the 1998 season. He was Atlanta’s bench coach from 1999 through the 2006 season, before moving to the Washington Nationals in a similar role. He would remain in baseball in both on-field and front office roles into the 2020s, spending the last part of his professional career with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Corrales’ time as a coach with Atlanta coincided with organization’s rise to dominance in the National League West and East, with the team winning the divisions in each completed season from 1991 through 2005.
Miguel de la Hoz
October 2, 1938 - May 28, 2023
Atlanta Braves: 1966-1967
Miguel de la Hoz played for nine seasons in the Majors, debuting at age 21 with Cleveland and playing with the Indians until he was traded to the Milwaukee Braves in 1964 for Chico Salmon. In four seasons with the Braves - two in Milwaukee and two in Atlanta - de la Hoz appeared in 304 games as a reserve infielder. The best season of his career came in his first season with the Braves when he provided a 110 OPS+ across 207 plate appearances.
For his career, he saw action mainly at second base, shortstop and third base - appearing in more than 100 career games at each position. The Braves traded him to Cincinnati early in the 1969 season after he spent the 1968 season at Triple-A. He would get one plate appearance for the Reds in 1969, his last in MLB. de la Hoz, a Cuba-native, was inducted into the Cuban Sports Hall of Fame in 2010.
September 10, 1954 - November 20, 2023
Atlanta Braves: 1975 - 1982
Drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the first round (11th overall) in 1972 out of Pensacola, FL, Preston Hanna spent all but 23 games of his MLB career with the franchise that drafted him. He debuted for Atlanta in 1975 at age 20 and saw his last MLB action with the Oakland Athletics in 1982 at age 27. Hanna pitched in 133 games for Atlanta with the right-hander making 47 career starts - 28 of which came during the 1978 season.
He finished his career with a 17-25 record and a 4.61 ERA in 437.1 innings - 389 of which were with the Braves. He tossed two complete games and collected a save during his career.
September 20, 1946 - September 18, 2023
Atlanta Braves: 1973-1975
Roric Harrison spent parts of three season with Atlanta, arriving from Baltimore as part of the trade that brough Pat Dobson, Davey Johnson and Johnny Oates to Atlanta for Taylor Duncan and Earl Williams. For the Braves, he would pitch in 73 games - starting 49 but also collecting six saves - will providing 358 innings with a 4.45 ERA. He also hit five home runs with Atlanta before being traded to Cleveland for Blue Moon Odom and Rob Belloir, who also passed away this year.
March 10, 1934 - December 14, 2023
Milwaukee Braves: 1960-1961
Ken MacKenzie debuted with the Milwaukee Braves in 1960 and pitched in 14 games as a reliever between his two seasons in Wisconsin. A graduate of Yale University, MacKenzie was a member of the expansion New York Mets in 1962 and saw action in a career-high 42 games making is only career start and picking up his first of five career saves. With the Braves he pitched in 15.1 innings going 0-2 but striking out 14 batters.
August 29, 1939 - February 25, 2023
Atlanta Braves: 1967
Dave Nicholson would see the last action of his MLB career with Atlanta during the 1967 season when the outfielder appeared in 10 games for the Braves. Debuting for Baltimore in 1960, the right-handed hitting outfielder would see the bulk of his action with the Chicago White Sox between 1963 and 1965. His 1963 season would be his best when he played in 126 games for the White Sox, hitting 22 home runs but also striking out an AL-leading 175 times.
Although he only played in 539 games during his career, he a part of multiple trades that included Hall of Famers, including being part of the 1963 trade that saw him go with Hoyt Wilhelm to the White Sox in a package that included Luis Aparicio going to Baltimore as well as the New Year’s Eve 1966 trade that saw him go to Atlanta from the Houston Astros in the trade package that sent Eddie Mathews to the Astros.
October 9, 1940 - March 13, 2023
First baseman, Outfielder
Atlanta Braves: 1973
Joe Pepitone spent 12 seasons in MLB, with the Brooklyn, NY-native coming to fame in the early 1960’s with the New York Yankees where he was a three-time All-Star and Gold Glove winner at first base. Pepitone’s time with the Braves was a short one - appearing in only three games in 1973, his last appearances in MLB.
For his career, the notorious Pepitone slugged 219 home runs - with 111 of those coming in the first five seasons of his career. With Atlanta he picked up four hits and one RBI in 12 plate appearances. He’d play one season in Japan before ending his on-field career.
He would write and autobiography, play in the American Professional Slo-Pitch League and run afoul of the law in the decades following the end of his playing days. He also spent time as a coach in the Yankees system between several arrests and time in jail.
December 10, 1939 - September 28, 2023
Atlanta Braves: 1970-1971
Bob Priddy made his MLB debut with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1962 and would appear for six organizations at the big-league level by the time his career concluded after three seasons with Atlanta in 1971. Primarily a reliever during his career, the right-handed pitcher would pitch in 81 games for Atlanta, collecting a total of 12 saves between the 1970 and 1971 seasons. The Braves acquired him late in the 1969 season with Hoyt Wilhem in a deal with the California Angels.
For his career, he finished with a 24-38 record and a 4.00 ERA in 249 career games including 29 starts. He tossed three complete games and also saved 18 games during his career.
January 25, 1933 - July 31, 2023
Mel Roach debuted with the Milwaukee Braves in 1953, appearing in a handful of games in that season and 1954 before serving two seasons in the military during the Korean conflict. Upon returning to the Braves, he saw action again in only seven games for the World Series-winning 1957 team.
In 1958, the second baseman was having the best season of his short career playing behind Red Schoendienst - hitting .309/.329/.450 in 44 games - when he suffered a knee injury during a game in early August, ending his season.
Roach would appear for Atlanta each through 1961 - including an outstanding season as a reserve in 1960. The Braves traded him to the Chicago Cubs in May 1961 for Frank Thomas, who also passed away this year.
For his career, Roach appeared in 227 games. In his seven seasons with the Braves, he hit .265/.299/.377 with all seven of his career home runs in 139 games and 387 plate appearances.
June 11, 1936 - November 30, 2023
Paul Snyder spent five decades as a member of the Braves organization, starting as a player in the minors in 1958 before becoming a minor league manager and scout. He joined the team’s front office in 1972 and oversaw the organization’s rebuild in the late 1970’s and again in the late 1980’s that led to the team’s lauded success through his last years in the organization. After rejoining the organization twice after retiring, Snyder retired for good in 2012.
Snyder is on the Patheon of Braves organizational legends. His impact and influence Atlanta’s on-field product cannot be understated.
Snyder’s success is all-the-more remarkable given multiple significant health issues he had during his career - including a stroke required brain surgery in the mid-1970s, a heart surgery and two spinal fusions in the mid-2000s.
He was elected to the Braves Hall of Fame in 2005 and the Professional Baseball Scouts Hall of Fame in 2013. Snyder was also given the King of Baseball award by Minor League Baseball in 2006.
For more on Snyder, click here for a Battery Power article after his passing.
June 11, 1929 - January 16, 2023
Milwaukee Braves: 1961, 1965
Frank Thomas spent 16 seasons in MLB as a slugging outfielder with the best seasons of his career coming in his first eight with the Pittsburgh Pirates where he was a three-time All-Star and five-time NL MVP vote-getting, including 1958 when he finished fourth for the award. He was well-traveled after that season, playing for six different teams in eight different stops before his career ended in 1967 with 286 home runs, 962 RBI and a career .266/.320/.454 slash line.
Thomas had two different stints with the Milwaukee Braves. In 1961, he was traded to the Braves for Mel Roach, who also passed away this year, and slugged 25 home runs while hitting .284/.335/.506 for a 123 OPS+ for the Braves.
Thomas would have a return trip with the Braves in 1965 after starting the season with the Phillies and being signed by the Houston Astros after his release by Philadelphia after an altercation with Richie Allen. Traded to the Milwaukee on September 1, he would appear in 15 games in the season’s final month. Atlanta released him one week before the start of the 1966 season. Signed by the Chicago Cubs, he’d appear in five games as a pinch-hitter before his career came to an end.
January 24, 1939 - February 26, 2023
Atlanta Braves: 1968
Sandy Valdespino spent 36 games with Atlanta during the 1968 season after the team selected him from the Minnesota Twins in the 1967 rule 5 draft. The Braves would trade the left-handed hitting outfielder to the Houston Astros after the 1968 season.
Valdespino debuted with the Twins during the 1965 season, playing in a career-high 108 games as a 26-year-old. The Cuba-native spent time with five organizations during his seven-year MLB career. Seeing action as a reserve, he totaled 382 career games and 839 plate appearances while providing a modest .230/.286./.295 slash line while garnering 176 hits and seven home runs.
Valdespino’s greatest success in Atlanta did not come with the Braves but with the then Triple-A Atlanta Crackers, with whom he won the International League batting title in 1964 while a member of the Twins organization.
Levi Walker, Jr.
December 27, 1941 - November 24, 2023
Atlanta Braves: 1969-1986
Levi Walker, Jr. spent 18 years as an entertainer for the Atlanta Braves performing as “Chief Noc-A-Homa” as part of team’s pre-game and in-game entertainment. A Michigan native and member of the Odawa Tribe, Walker was the third person, and only Native American, to portray the character while the team was based out of Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.