The tightly contested National League Western Division was finally captured by the Atlanta Braves on the season’s final weekend with a 4-2 victory over the San Diego Padres. Like their playoff opponent, the New York Mets, Atlanta took over the division lead for the first time in the first week of September. From there, they didn’t look back as they finished the season’s final month with a 21-5 record. The Braves benefited from a concluding schedule that included the expansion Padres in 6 of the final 11 games.
The Padres took an early 1-0 lead in the fourth, but Atlanta responded quickly with a three runs from back-to-back home runs by Orlando Cepeda and Clete Boyer. Those would be all the runs that Pat Jarvis (14-12) would need. Atlanta added another run on an eighth inning home run by Felix Millan. Cecil Upshaw allowed a ninth inning triple by Ivan Murrell who scored on Walt Hriniak’s ground out to short. Larry Stahl ended the game with a ground out to Millan at second. Orlando Cepeda leapt in the air after fielding Millan’s throw and the celebration at Atlanta Stadium began. At least 2,000 fans stormed over the stadium barriers and onto the field, grabbing everything that wasn’t tied down. Braves’ manager Luman Harris attempted to go on the field. “I was knocked down,” he said, “and I’d swear everyone of those 2,000 or so people walked right over me.” Harris lost a pair of glasses and his watch in the melee. In the clubhouse, players drenched themselves with champagne or soft drinks or beer and finally, plain water. “Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful,” Orlando Cepeda kept shouting. Rico Carty, one of the September heroes for Atlanta, sought refuge under a table. But everytime he stuck out his head, out came the bubbly. “Everything is lovely, just lovely,” said Carty, grinning the biggest grin. Carty batted .481 with 8 HR’s in stretch drive for the Braves.