Cover photo for Richard Alan Cecil's Obituary
Richard Alan Cecil Profile Photo
1935 Richard 2023

Richard Alan Cecil

April 14, 1935 — August 15, 2023


Former Atlanta Braves executive Dick Cecil, who played a major role in bringing the Braves from Milwaukee to Atlanta in 1966 and who went on to a long career in event creation and management, died August 15 at his home in Atlanta. He was 88.

Born and raised in Lincoln, NE, Dick received his B.A. and M.A. from the University of Nebraska. After graduating he taught high school and coached youth baseball before going to work for the then-Milwaukee Braves as a scout. He quickly rose through the ranks to become the head of the Braves' minor league operations, including running the minor leagues spring training camp in Waycross, Georgia. It was then that he first discovered Jekyll Island, a life-long interest. He became vice president of the Braves, and president of Braves Productions, Inc., booking events into Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. These included the Kool Jazz Festival; the Atlanta Jazz Festival; the Peach Bowl; the Coaches All American Football Game; and multiple concerts, including the Beatles, Barbara Streisand, Pink Floyd, James Brown, and The Allman Brothers.

While with the Braves, Dick became a founding member of the North American Soccer League (NASL) in 1967. The Braves owned and operated the Atlanta Chiefs franchise from 1967 to 1972, with Dick serving as the Chiefs' president and chief operating officer. The Chiefs brought Atlanta its first professional championship when they won the 1968 NASL championship, the year he was named NASL Executive of the Year. He was also co-owner with Ted Turner of a second generation of the Chiefs from 1979 to 1982, serving as president. Dick was director of the East Coast soccer venues for the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee in 1984 and co-producer of the 1986 FIFA/UNICEF World All-Star Game held in Pasadena, California. Later, he was a senior consultant to the World Cup USA 1994 Organizing Committee and served as a member of the venue selection team.

The 1950s and 1960s were a time of great racial strife, especially in the South, and Dick worked hard alongside civil rights leaders to help achieve racial equality in sports and entertainment. Successfully desegregating the Braves' minor league spring training was one of his accomplishments. He was honored and privileged to be friends with Ambassador Andrew Young and other civil rights leaders. Dick also had the privilege of helping his close friend Hank Aaron, by sorting through Hank's heavy volume of mail while he was close to breaking Babe Ruth's home run record, ensuring that the hate mail was kept away from Hank so as not to be a distraction, forwarding the most threatening mail to the FBI.

Eventually, Dick left the Braves to form his own leisure and entertainment consulting company, Cecil and Associates. He consulted with companies such as the Coca-Cola Company, Coca-Cola USA, and Eastman Kodak. While consulting with Ketchum Communications, he created, developed, and implemented the National Old Timers Baseball Classic for the Borden Company, bringing former MLB players together for an exhibition game that benefited retired players in financial need. This event was held for nine years (1982-1990).

He was also involved with numerous other sporting and concert events, including the 1993 World University Games; 1998 Goodwill Games; Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (1990-1996); Salt Lake City Olympic Committee for the 2002 Winter Games; Major League Baseball All-Star Games (1999-2004); Jamaica Cricket 2007 Bid Committee; the 2010 FEI World Equestrian Games; 2012 World Choir Games; the opening concerts of the Experience Music Project in Seattle; and the Aruba Music Festival, among others.

He was active and creative until the day he died. At the time of his death, Dick was actively working on several movie and documentary projects, including those drawing on his colorful days as a baseball scout and later with US soccer. The family will work to bring these projects to fruition.

His greatest joys were his family, spending time on the Georgia coast, and his numerous Labrador retrievers. He is survived by his wife of 40 years, Pam; his children, Will, Kip, Terry, and Kelly, as well as nine grandchildren and several great grandchildren.

There will be no services at this time.

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