During the first two months of the 2016 school year, the Atlanta Braves hosted high school students at Turner Field for Tomahawk Talks: A Sport Industry Insight Panel. Each visit included a tour of the ballpark and a panel discussion with sport and entertainment industry professionals.
In August, Parkview High School brought students to the ballpark as a reward for positive behavior through the Considerate, Productive, and Responsible Program. These students gained a glimpse of the sports industry from members of the Braves Front Office, representing a wide variety of departments including Accounting, Community Affairs, Digital Marketing and Public Relations.
Early in September, students from Campbell High School’s AV, Tech and Film program arrived at Turner Field to learn more about the audio/visual and film careers available with a Major League Baseball team. The Braves’ Game Entertainment department shared industry knowledge and advice regarding fan experience and editing/producing content for in-game and online usage. Following the panel discussion, the students took a trip to the BravesVision offices to learn more about the equipment used at the ballpark.
Next, Culinary Arts students from Booker T. Washington High School learned about the hospitality aspect of sports and entertainment. Upon arrival, the students went to the visiting dugout for a quick photo opportunity. After the photo, our guests watched Delaware North Executive Sous Chef, Rory Bancroft, demonstrate the making of The T.E.D., a specialty hot dog created just for Turner Field. Finally, the students had the opportunity to hear from a variety of Delaware North employees ranging from Human Resources to the District Manager. The panelists shared various backgrounds, communicating to the students that there is rarely one certain path to get to where you want to be.
Our final group came from Harrison High School’s Sports Medicine program. Following the students’ tour of Turner Field, Director of Player and Health Performance, Andrew Hauser, and Head Athletic Trainer, Jeff Porter, spoke to the students about their day-to-day duties including treatment programs and pitchers’ schedules, positive and negative aspects of working in the sports industry and shared ways for the students to get ahead now.
In total, close to 100 students and teachers participated in the Tomahawk Talks panel discussions. All participants left the ballpark with a new perspective on working in the sports industry and of course a goodie bag full of Braves swag including tickets to a future Braves game.
Thank you to all who helped to make this panel series possible!
Each season the Atlanta Braves partner with UMPS Care Charities Blue Crew Tickets program, established by the Major League Baseball umpires, to enrich the lives of at-risk youth, and children awaiting adoption by treating them to a unique baseball experience. This season we welcomed guests from the Big Brothers, Big Sisters mentorship program which creates a strong friendship with an adult mentor, and the Dave Thomas Foundation, which connects children awaiting adoption with a loving family.
MLB umpires Dan Bellino, Phil Cuzzi and David Ruckley rolled out the red carpet for our special guests during each visit. Upon arrival, everyone received goodies bags filled with Braves gear, snacks, and concession coupons courtesy of the Braves and UMPS Care Charities.
They were then escorted to the umpires locker room to meet the officials for the day’s game for a special behind-the-scenes look. Inside the locker rooms, the officials spoke about their path to becoming MLB Umpires, their favorite ballparks, and their most memorable moments as umpires. The kids and their chaperones also got the chance to view the instant replay box and walk through the umpire’s tunnel to see the field take a group photo.
Thank you to UMPS Care Charities for providing these special experiences and for doing all that you do to make a difference in the lives of our youth!
On Saturday, August 20th, the Atlanta Braves hosted end-of-the-season an awards ceremony for the Junior Braves/RBI youth baseball and softball players from the following leagues: ATL METRO RBI, Boys & Girls Club of Metro Atlanta, Browns Mill RBI Softball, FCA Urban Baseball, Villages of Carver Family YMCA, and Wade Walker Park Family YMCA.
The following awards were distributed to players from each league based on their overall performance on and off of the field throughout the season:
- Ace in the Community demonstrating community service and an effort to give back to others in need.
- Ace in the Classroom showing that they have put forth significant effort in school or demonstrated an improvement in their grades.
- Ace on the Field honors someone who not only knows the game of baseball well but plays their heart out and strives to be the best but does not have to go to the player with the best statistics.
- Positive Athlete Award highlights the player with the most positive attitude towards teammates, officials, coaches and shows a high level of respect for the game while also being a positive role model to others both on and off the field.
Special recognition went to the 15U MGBA (Marquis Grissom Baseball Association)/ ATL METRO RBI league for winning the RBI Regionals in Chattanooga, TN, and advancing to the RBI World Series in Cincinnati, Ohio. The highly underrated, yet very talented MGBA squad made it all the way to the championship game, yet came up just one run short. The Braves are proud of those young men for leaving their mark!
Additionally, the 19U Browns Mill RBI Softball team also won their regional tournament in Chattanooga, advancing to the RBI World Series in Cincinnati. Taking place just one week after the RBI Baseball World Series – the girls RBI softball team from Browns Mill came in excited to play and win it all. The program has known success, winning the World Series 8 times in the 20-year history of softball RBI World Series, including a remarkable 7 in a row from 2001-2007, and again in 2013. Unfortunately, they came up short but not without a fight! We are proud they made another appearance and wish them the best of luck of as many of the team members have begun their college careers.
At the end of the awards and recognition Braves pitchers, Mike Foltynewicz and Chris Withrow made a special appearance and took photos with each team. After the photos, all family, players, and friends got to parade around the warning track, then enjoy the Braves game!
Great job Junior Braves/RBI players and we look forward to seeing everyone back on the field in 2017!
On Friday, August 19th, we hosted our annual Hall of Fame Luncheon honoring two very familiar faces in Braves Country, inducting long time center fielder, Andruw Jones, and one of the most successful General Managers in Braves history, Mr. John Schuerholz, into the Braves Hall of Fame – Class of 2016. The event was held at the Hyatt Regency Downtown Atlanta and over 700 people were in attendance. The crowd included all of the current Braves team, coaches, and staff plus some notable Braves legends were on hand to help celebrate the careers of these two baseball greats!
Speaking of Andruw Jones, we hope he will be considered for the National Baseball Hall of Fame in a few years from now, and here’s why. One of the most successful outfielders in Braves history, Andruw Jones signed with the Braves in 1993 as an amateur free agent and made his Major League debut in August of 1996. Two months later, at the age of 19, Jones became the youngest player to hit a home run in the World Series, when he posted a two-homer game in Game 1 of the 1996 Fall Classic against the New York Yankees. During his 12 seasons with the Braves, the Curacao native won 10 straight Gold Glove Awards and was voted to the All-Star Team five times. Additionally, in 2005 he won the Silver Slugger Award, the NL Hank Aaron Award and the Major League Player of the Year. Jones finished his Major League career with 1,933 hits, 1,289 RBIs, and 434 home runs.
Many Braves favorites helped to honor Jones during the luncheon, including Chipper Jones, who took the stage before Andruw and said, “I don’t care what any of the old-timers say, he was the best defender of maybe any position I’ve ever seen.” Chipper also called Andruw his “brother from another mother,” with laughter bursting from the audience. Andruw came to the stage to give his speech and very humbly talked about the way he played the game and the smile he always had on his face was because he just “loved to play the game.” He was also very honored to be inducted at the same as John Schuerholz because he was the one that drafted him so many years ago.
John Schuerholz entered his 51st season in professional baseball and his 26th campaign with the Braves organization this year. His baseball career began in 1966 as an administrative assistant with his hometown team, the Baltimore Orioles. Two years later, Schuerholz moved to the newly established Kansas City Royals, where he would spend the next 22 years. In 1981, the Royals named 41-year-old Schuerholz general manager, making him the youngest in Major League Baseball at the time. With Schuerholz as GM, the Royals went on to win their first World Series in 1985. Schuerholz joined the Braves organization in October 1990, and by 1991, the team was in the World Series for the first time since 1958. During his tenure as general manager, the Braves won 14 consecutive division championships, five National League pennants, and the 1995 World Series. With the team’s 1995 World Series championship, Schuerholz became the first executive to be general manager of world championship teams in both the American and National leagues.
Schuerholz transitioned from general manager to president of the Braves in 2007. We, too, are hoping Mr. Schuerholz receives induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in the near future. “This moment is the most exciting and proud moment that I’ve had in my personal life as an executive,” Schuerholz said during his induction speech. “I’ve shared in a lot of team success … but, individually, this is the top of the mountain.”
Welcome to the Braves Hall of Fame John and Andruw! Congratulations!
On August 16 – 18, 2016, the Atlanta Braves Foundation and Fox Sports South celebrated the first ever Community Heroes Week out in the community and at home at Turner Field.
We asked our fans to nominate and share the stories of friends, family members, neighbors or colleagues who are going above and beyond to positively impact and inspire those around them. These individuals may have overcome adversity or raised awareness of various issues affecting our community.
On each of the three consecutive days during the celebration of Community Heroes Week, the Atlanta Braves Foundation and Fox Sports South went out into the community to recognize a different individual who has made a significant impact in the lives of others and made a monetary donation to their respective non-profit organization.
The honorees got the opportunity to share their inspirational stories with Braves players, fans and the media, while being surprised with the day of their dreams. Each day culminated with a VIP visit to Turner Field for an exclusive tour, batting practice from the dugout and in-game presentation.
Hal Simpson – Georgia Blind Sports Association
Hal Simpson is a devoted father, community member, and sports enthusiast. Hal’s son is visually impaired, and encouraged him to create the GA Blind Sports Association. The GA Blind Sports Association provides visually impaired athletes the opportunity to participate in adapted sports. The Atlanta Braves Foundation and Fox Sports South surprised Hal, visually impaired students at Parkview High School, and the local beep baseball team, the Atlanta Eclipse, at a beep baseball clinic at the school.
Andee Poulos – Andee’s Army
Andee is 20-years-old, manager of her school’s softball team, an avid Braves and UGA fan, and spends her birthday at Turner Field each year. In 2011, Andee suffered a massive stroke, did not walk, talk, eat or drink for 20 months. The foundation that bears, Andee’s Army, raises money to help families with children who have suffered brain and spinal injuries. The Atlanta Braves Foundation and Fox Sports South surprised Andee at Holy Innocents Episcopal School in front of her classmates. Following the surprise, Atlanta Braves players and Fox broadcasters helped Andee host a bake sale to support Andee’s Army.
Zack Leitz – The Backpack Project
Zack is 20-years-old and is a junior at University of Georgia. Zack established The Backpack Project, whose mission is to ease the burden of homelessness by making backpacks filled with food, clothes, and toiletries and distributing them to the homeless. The Atlanta Braves Foundation and Fox Sports South surprised Zack at Turner Field, where he thought he was packing bags with front office employees. Atlanta Braves players and Fox broadcasters helped Zack and his team pack bags and then traveled to the Salvation Army to serve lunch and distribute the backpacks.
For an overview of the entire week, please watch the video below:
Thank you to everyone who helped to make the inaugural Community Heroes Week a success and congratulations to our honorees!
The 8th annual Atlanta Braves Youth Baseball Classic presented by Bank of America, brought together youth baseball teams from across the Southeast to compete in a round robin/bracket style tournament at Wills Park in Alpharetta, Georgia on July 15-17. The tournament hosted 68 teams ranging in age from six to fourteen. Throughout the weekend, teams from Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina and Alabama competed for the Tomahawk Trophy in their respective age divisions. On Saturday, July 16, each team traveled to Turner Field to watch the Braves vs. Colorado Rockies game. Over 1,000 players and family members walked around the warning track at Turner Field in the pregame parade before first pitch!
Teams who participated in the Atlanta Braves Youth Baseball Classic received:
- A team photo with Atlanta Braves infielder Jace Peterson and alumni pitcher Alejandro Pena
- 15 Outfield Pavilion tickets for the July 16th, Braves vs. Rockies game at 7:10pm
- An official Atlanta Braves Youth Baseball Classic T-shirt and Braves gift bag
- Opportunity to participate in a pre-game parade at Turner Field on July 16th
Congratulations to the following teams on their 1st and 2nd place finishes.
6U Age Division:
6U Knoxville Stars (Knoxville, TN)
6U Tullahoma Wildcats (Tullahoma, TN)
7U Age Division:
7U Diamond Simcox Academy – Orange (Knoxville, TN)
7U Middle Tennessee Baseball University (Hillsboro, TN)
8U Age Division:
8U Crushers Travel (Calhoun, GA)
8U Blazers (Nahunta, GA)
9U Age Division:
9U Tullahoma Elite Wildcats (Tullahoma, TN)
9U Georgia Yard Dogs (Dekalb County, GA)
10U Age Division:
10U Diamond Academy Legends (Rocky Face, GA)
10U Wallace Park Yankees (Smyrna, GA)
11U Age Division:
11U Earl Battey Baseball (Orlando, FL)
11U Gresham Park Yard Dogs (Dekalb County, GA)
12U Age Division:
12U OTC Xplosion (McDonough, GA)
12U Cyclones (Marietta, GA)
14U (54/80) Age Division:
14U Stixx Baseball (Anniston, AL)
14U Tide Baseball (Kennesaw, GA)
14U (60/90) Age Division:
14U Team Halo (Marietta, GA)
14U Valdosta Fire (Valdosta, GA)
On Saturday, July 16, athletes in the 6U – 8U age groups competed in three skills challenges. Three contestants from each team took to the diamond to determine the player in each age group with the best pitching accuracy, the quickest feet and the strongest bat. Congratulations to the following contestants for winning the respective events in their age group!
Golden Arm – Easton Housewright – Knoxville Stars (Knoxville, TN)
Home Run Derby – Jake Brinson – Albany All-Stars (Albany, GA)
Fleet Feet – Joe Williams – Hopewell Hammerheads (Milton, GA)
Golden Arm – Colton Morey – MT Elite (Murfreesboro, TN)
Home Run Derby – Waylen Burgess – Diamond Simcox Academy Orange (Knoxville, TN)
Fleet Feet – Gage Allen – Middle Tennessee Baseball University (Hillsboro, TN)
Golden Arm – Colby Comparato – Base Knox Royals (Knoxville, TN)
Home Run Derby – Colby Moore – Base Knox Royals (Knoxville, TN)
Fleet Feet – Cade Brooks – Panther Baseball (Cottontown, TN)
We are grateful for the support and look forward to Youth Baseball Classic 2017!
In July, as part of our Braves front office volunteer initiative, we partnered with the Atlanta Police Department and youth baseball players from the Atlanta Police Athletic League (PAL) for a friendly game of softball at the Atlanta Braves Baseball Academy located at the Villages at Carver YMCA.
Atlanta PAL is a non-profit whose mission is to provide a safe environment for youth to reach their full potential through partnership with police and the community. PAL utilizes athletics, activities, and other programming geared to improve quality-of-life for our youth participants, by promoting confidence, self-esteem, civic engagement, academic achievement, and social principles with the goal of aiding them in becoming nurturing, productive members of society.
Braves staff and PAL participants split into two teams, coached by Atlanta Police Department officers and played more than an hour of softball on the hottest day of the summer — a cool 100 degrees!
What an awesome way to show support of our local officers and their kiddos from PAL!
On Monday, June 27, the Atlanta Braves honored Donal Noonan as a Braves Country Community Hero presented by Chick-fil-A. Donal is the Founder and Director of The Atlanta Homeward Choir, a choral group for homeless men that uses music to encourage and uplift the members. The choir has attracted national attention and was invited to Washington D.C. during the 2015 holiday season to perform at the White House. While in D.C. the choir also sang on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Participation in the choir has deeply impacted its members, resulting in jobs and housing for many. All men are welcomed to continue singing with the choir even after finding their way out of homelessness. Donal hopes that these men can provide guidance to others who are still struggling.
At the ballpark on Monday, June 27, the members of The Atlanta Homeward Choir sang the national anthem to kick off the game between the Braves and the Cleveland Indians. The group enjoyed a Chick-fil-A dinner and Braves swag delivered to their seats. Many of the choir members watched themselves on the BravesVision video board as Donal was honored after the 6th inning.
For more information on The Atlanta Homeward Choir, please visit http://www.atlantahomewardchoir.org/
Watch the video below to see the Braves honor Donal at Turner Field!
On Saturday, June 25, the Atlanta Braves hosted Negro Leagues players from around the southeast during the annual Heritage Weekend celebration.
The players and their guests attended a special reception, presented by Grady Hospital, with food, live music, and special appearances from Braves outfielder Mallex Smith and Third Base Coach Bo Porter. Several of the Negro League players signed autographs in the plaza for fans and were then honored during an on-field presentation. The Negro League players enjoyed the Braves vs. New York Mets game from VIP suite with their family members.
To honor the Negro Leagues, the Atlanta Braves wore the Atlanta Black Crackers uniform and the New York Mets wore the Brooklyn Royal Giants uniforms. The game-worn autographed Atlanta Black Crackers jerseys auctioned online with proceeds benefitting the Center for Civil and Human Rights and the Atlanta Braves Foundation.
We enjoyed celebrating these men each year for their contributions to the game of baseball!
Participating Negro Leagues Players:
Carlton Banks – Kansas City Monarchs
Al Barks – New York Black Yankees
Cleophus “Hard Hitting” Brown – Birmingham Black Barons
JC Casselberry – Indianapolis Clowns
Henry Elmore – Birmingham Black Barons
Ernest Fann – Raleigh Tigers
Edward “Butch” Haynes – Indianapolis Clowns
Moses Herring – Raleigh Tigers
Alfonso Holt – Birmingham Black Barons
Willie Lee – Birmingham Black Barons
Jake Sanders – Kansas City Monarchs
Bob Scott – New York Black Yankees, Memphis Red Sox
Eugene Scruggs – Detroit Stars
Ron Smith – Satchel Paige All-Stars
Willie Walker – Birmingham Black Barons
Larry Williams – Kansas City Monarchs
Odell Wingfield – Atlanta Black Crackers
Archie “Dropo” Young – Birmingham Black Barons
The Atlanta Braves celebrated the 4th annual Heritage Weekend presented by Delta Air Lines, Grady Hospital, and Bank of America on June 24 – 25.
The 2016 Hank Aaron Champion for Justice Awards presented by Air Lines were held at The Center for Civil and Human Rights (CCHR) and hosted by V103’s Frank Ski. Derreck Kayongo, CEO of the CCHR, welcomed everyone and Braves Chairman Emeritus Bill Bartholomay presented the awards to four outstanding individuals who have made a lifelong commitment to overcoming industry obstacles and inspiring future generations.
The 2016 award recipients included:
Dolores Huerta – Dolores Huerta co-founded the United Farm Workers with Cesar Chavez in 1962, was a founding Board Member of the Feminist Majority Foundation, and is President of the Dolores Huerta Foundation. Among other prestigious honors, she has been awarded the Eleanor D. Roosevelt Human Rights Award from President Bill Clinton and the Medal of Freedom Award from President Obama.
Marc Morial – Marc Morial served two terms as Mayor or New Orleans before being elected as the President and CEO of the National Urban League. He was appointed by President Obama to serve as the Chair of the Census Advisory Committee and as a member of the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability and the Department of Education’s Equity and Excellence Commission.
Oscar “The Big O” Robertson – Mr. Robertson led his high school basketball team to a national title – the first be an African American school in any sport. As the first three-time Collegiate Basketball National Player of the Year, NBA Rookie of the Year in 1961, NBA MVP in 1964, and the Co-Captain of the 1960 USA Olympic Gold Medal team, Oscar Robertson is commonly referred to as the “Player of the Century”, along with social activist, business owner, mentor, teacher and philanthropist.
John Schuerholz – Under the control of John Schuerholz, the Atlanta Braves won five National League pennants, one World Series, and several “Organization of the Year” awards. He is a member of the Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame, the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, and will be inducted into the Atlanta Braves Hall of Fame this year. He has also been recognized as the Major League Executive of the Year on multiple occasions. He is a longtime board member of YES Atlanta and Camp Sunshine.
Following the ceremony, the honorees participated in a spirited panel discussion moderated by Doug Shipman, the CEO and Managing Director of Brighthouse (Atlanta). The conversation centered around their individual journeys in working tirelessly for equality and civil rights for all of humanity and how sports unifies different cultures for a common goal. Mr. Morial shared his experiences growing up in Louisiana and dealing with racial inequality. Ms. Huerta described the inadequate working conditions farm workers experienced in the fields and the importance of giving a voice to the voiceless. This powerful conversation was well received by the audience and ended with a standing ovation.
Later that evening the honorees were recognized during a pre-game ceremony before the Braves vs. Mets game.