Built to Win by John Schuerholz

Reviewed by Allen Hott

builtThe current Atlanta Braves’ president, John Schuerholz, has put together an interesting account of his tenure as General Manager of the Braves. Actually he even goes back a bit to talk of his growing up, working his way into baseball administration on a low level, being General Manager of the Kansas City Royals and finally to the Braves.

The title Built to Win is more or less the story of Schuerholz’s life. He prides himself on his ability to build organizations through unity. Making everyone a part of the whole and then making them believe in themselves as part of the whole. Much of the book relates how he has always exemplified certain characteristics in having an organization that truly is one unit. And that unit believes that it is and will be the best by the way they handle themselves, others, and adversities.

Although he does touch on prior happenings, Schuerholz zeroes in on the Atlanta baseball team from when he joined them in late 1990 until 2005. These were in fact the glory years for the Braves and much of the credit goes to Schuerholz and his building a tremendous organization. The Braves not only went from last to first in the National League in 1991 (Schuerholz’s first full year) they had actually been last in three of the four previous seasons.

Schuerholz began early on restructuring the ball club with the additions of Terry Pendleton, Otis Nixon, Rafael Belliard and Sid Bream. These four joined the nucleus of the team to become the 1991 National League Champions. That season was to be the first of fourteen straight division championships. Unheard of in any major league sport!

During that run the Braves boasted of one of the best pitching staffs in baseball history. Gregg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and John Smoltz highlighted the starting pitchers and were aided at various times by the likes of Kevin Milwood,
Mike Remlinger, and John Burkett. Two of the best relievers during the run included Mark Wohlers and Kerry Lightenberg. Another great reliever, John Rocker, is featured extensively in the book and actually more for his off the field problems than his great relieving statistics.

Rocker was just one of the players who caused some problems for the Braves in this great run. But Schuerholz and his staff managed to somehow work around the diversities and continue to win ball games and division pennants.

Overall Built to Win is a book that can be enjoyed by most baseball fans and especially Atlanta Braves’ fans. Astute managers in any organization can also benefit from some of the Schuerholz doctrines. He makes many good points.

Disclosure in Accordance with FTC Guidelines 16 CFR Part 255


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