ATLANTA -- Atlanta Braves general manager John Schuerholz was retiring Thursday after assembling teams that won a record 14 straight division titles and the 1995 World Series championship.
Outfielder Jeff Francoeur said he got the word a few hours before Schuerholz made his official announcement.
"I figured he would be with us another year of two," Francoeur said. "It kind of happened quick for all of us. It caught us off guard."
The team had no immediate comment other than to schedule an afternoon news conference for a "major" announcement.
The Braves won 14 consecutive division titles from 1991, Schuerholz's first season in Atlanta, until 2004, a streak unprecedented in any of the major American sports. The only blemish on his resume was a lack of success once his teams got the playoffs.
Atlanta's only World Series title came 12 years ago, a six-game victory over the Cleveland Indians that gave the city its first — and still only — major sports championship.
Four other times during the streak, the Braves lost in the World Series. They also lost four times in the NL championship series and four more times in the division series.
After the team's ownership passed from Ted Turner to Time Warner, the Braves began to cut payroll though they remained one of the highest-spending teams in baseball.
In 2005, Atlanta's postseason streak ended with a losing season and third-place finish in the NL East. The Braves climbed back over .500 this season but again finished third, and out of the playoffs.
Still, the postseason failures and recent slide do little to diminish Schuerholz's remarkable record of assembling talented teams year after year, with manager Bobby Cox running things in the dugout throughout the remarkable run.
"Obviously, John has done an unbelievable job with the organization and this team," Francoeur said. "He definitely deserves to retire and enjoy what he's accomplished. It's sad, because we didn't want to see him go."
Schuerholz, who turned 67 on Oct. 1, came to the Braves from Kansas City in 1991, taking over a last-place team that had plenty of potential: pitchers John Smoltz, Tom Glavine and Steve Avery were just starting out their careers.
The new GM filled out the roster with established veterans such as Terry Pendleton and Sid Bream, a combination took Atlanta from worst to first and all the way to Game 7 of the World Series.
The memorable series ended with a 1-0, 10-inning loss at Minnesota in the decisive contest.
Even though Smoltz is the only player who has been with the Braves throughout the Schuerholz era, the general manager kept a steady flow of talent moving through Atlanta. Greg Maddux and Andres Gallarraga were signed as free agents. Fred McGriff and Gary Sheffield were acquired in trades. Chipper Jones, Javy Lopez and Ryan Klesko came up through a productive farm system.
More recently, Francoeur and All-Star catcher Brian McCann came up from the minors to lead the team through a new generation.