Bob Horner was drafted #1 42 years ago Saturday

Bill Shanks

The Braves had been horrible in 1977. They won 61 games and lost 101. That gave them the number one pick in the 1978 draft.

There was no question who the Braves would take. Bob Horner was a slugging infielder at Arizona State University. He had 25 home runs as a junior and 56 in his three seasons with the Sun Devils.

Horner was at the College World Series in Omaha, Neb. when he was drafted. 

"There's no doubts about him," scouting director Paul Snyder told the Atlanta Constitution at the time.

The reports had Horner going down to the minor leagues. Some believed he would need a year-and-a-half before he'd be ready for Atlanta.

He needed only a week-and-a-half. 

Ten days after being drafted, the blonde, curly-headed Horner made his big league debut against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Bert Blyleven, a future Hall of Famer, was on the mound for the Buccos.

The game was not on television that night. Not all of them were back then. But on radio, Braves voice Ernie Johnson went nuts when Horner stepped up to the plate and hit a ball over the chain link fence at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadim.

Horner was the Rookie of the Year in 1978. He would go on to spend nine seasons in Atlanta and hit 215 home runs and have 994 hits with the Braves.

Horner joined Dale Murphy to provide the Braves with a great duo for a nine-year period. The Braves had some good years, and a few bad ones. But Horner and Murphy were stars, and the fans loved them.

It was quite a draft pick. Sure, Horner could have had better numbers if he hadn't gotten hurt. Sure, it's amazing to look back and know Horner was done at 30. 

But Bob Horner had one hell of a career. He should be in the Braves Hall of Fame, and he should be remembered by all Braves fans as an important part of Braves history.

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