Since 2007, the Braves 400 Fan Club has worked with the Atlanta Braves Foundation’s Reach Out, Be Our Guest program to provide special experiences for disadvantaged children who would not otherwise be able to attend a Braves game. Thanks to the 400 Club’s generosity, five groups were able to come to a Turner Field, watch batting practice from behind the Braves dugout, and enjoy a Chick-fil-A dinner before heading to their seats to enjoy the game. The groups that participated in this year’s programs were: Georgia Sheriffs’ Youth Homes, Friends of Refugees, Cobb County Foster & Adoptive Parents Association, City of Refuge, and Mission on the Move. Special thanks to Braves 400 Club Members Lynn Walley, Lynn Camp, Mary Lou Brooks, Jean Berken, and Dave and Nancy Badertscher for hosting these groups.
Below are photos from various group visits:
The Miracle League and Atlanta Braves both believe that “every child deserves to play baseball,” so one can imagine how excited both organizations were when Baseball Fantasy Camp for Kids reached out interested in facilitating a Fantasy Camp specifically for Miracle League players.
The invitation was sent out to Miracle League teams from parks all over Braves Country, and participants showed up from as far away as North Carolina, Augusta, and Macon. The camp was held on Saturday, August 17th at Hunter Memorial Park in Douglasville.
Players arrived at the park at 10 am for check-in and were surprised to receive their very own, personalized Atlanta Braves jersey. The jerseys weren’t the only surprise in store for the Miracle League athletes, as the Mayor of Douglasville made a special stop as well! Mayor Harvey Persons then introduced the Braves special guests – starting with our very own Homer the Brave! Up next were Braves pitchers Alex Wood and Anthony Varvaro, followed by utility man Paul Janish, then Strength and Conditioning coach Phil Falco.
Before the skills fun could get started, Coach Falco made sure everyone was properly stretched out and ready. Participants were then broken into groups where they rotated from station to station. Alex Wood led the hitting station – participants hit from a tee on the pitcher’s mound into the fence behind homeplate. From there they moved to left field where Anthony Varvaro and volunteers from 5 Tool Sports Training Center in Douglasville helped athletes perfect the art of fielding a ground ball.
Shortly after fielding ground balls, the athletes moved over to the pop fly station. Infielder Paul Janish showed athletes how to properly hold their glove when catching pop flies. Last, but certainly not least, the athletes worked with Coach Falco and Douglas County High School Baseball Head Coach Alex Duhaime to teach the athletes the proper way to play catch.
To close out the clinic, participants all lined up to make a trip around the bases before enjoying lunch. In addition to their jerseys, all participants received an Atlanta Braves goody bag and tickets to that night’s matchup against the Washington Nationals.
On Wednesday, August 14th the Atlanta Braves, PNC Bank, City of Refuge, The Fernbank Museum, and the Woodruff Arts Center Young Audiences program teamed up to teach 50 kids from Sheltering Arms Child Care about where their food comes from and how to make healthy choices. PNC Bank’s Grow Up Great initiative helps prepare children from birth to age five for success in school and life.
Children from Sheltering Arms arrived at City of Refuge bright and early to get started; the kids sat down in the gym and heard from PNC’s Regional President, Eddie Meyers and Atlanta Braves General Manager Frank Wren. They were then divided into groups and sent off to their stations accompanied by Braves mascot Homer. The first station was led by City of Refuge’s Chad Angell. Chad taught the kids where the juice they enjoy comes from and how different fruits and vegetables such as apples, carrots and celery can be used to make juice that’s delicious and nutritious. He then took the kids out to feed the fish in the greenhouse before they moved on to the raised bed areas.
Greg Sluder, the director of City of Refuge’s Eden Garden, showed the kids how to harvest peppers and plant spices that will be used in City of Refuge’s 180 Kitchen. The kids also dug for worms and picked cherry tomatoes while in the garden. After a quick water break, they went back inside to the Fernbank Museum’s exhibit about Decomposers. The Fernbank brought out hissing cockroaches and a tub of dirt made entirely by worms! A few brave kids even held the worms.
After they finished playing with worms and cockroaches, the kids went to meet Holly Stevenson, a Young Audiences storyteller and actress. Holly read the kids a story about gardening and had them join in an interactive story telling experience.
Everyone then washed their hands and headed into the dining hall for a delicious lunch provided by Goldberg’s Deli with a side of Go Go Squeeze Applesauce.
To round out the day, Braves pitcher, David Carpenter, spoke to the children about how important it is to eat well and play outside.
Atlanta Braves trainers Jeff Porter and Jim Lovell partnered with the Taylor Hooton Foundation and the Henry Schein Cares Foundation to put on the PLAY Clinic on Wednesday, July 31st. PLAY is based upon using the celebrity appeal of Major League Baseball and all of the teams and players to help fight steroid abuse and to educate the young people of America about the dangers of steroids as well as promote a healthy and active lifestyle.
Athletes from 9 – 17 years old arrived at the ballpark bright and early and were welcomed by Jeff Porter before heading into right field to start the clinic with stretches. The boys were then broken down into two groups, the first started with fly balls in right field while the other group sat in the dugout and heard from representatives with the Henry Schein Cares Foundation. Last, but certainly not least, the boys went down into the Braves batting cages to take a few cuts.
The players then made their way back up to the right field patio where they had lunch and heard from Jeff Porter, Jim Lovell, and special guest Evan Gattis. The kids were given the chance to ask Gattis questions ranging from what his favorite position to play was to every kid’s favorite question: “what are your superstitions?” Gattis also spoke about how important it is to work on improving with practice rather than substances that will only hurt in the long run.
Every July, the Atlanta Braves spread holiday cheer during our annual “Christmas in July” hospital visits at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and the Shepherd Center. This year Braves front office staff members were joined by Braves players, their wives, and coaches for the special visits. Many of the toys, which were distributed to the children during this visit, were donated during the Braves Wives annual Toy Drive.
Atlanta Braves players and their wives Craig and Ashley Kimbrel, Reed and Taryn Johnson, Tim and Kim Hudson, Jordan Walden and his girlfriend Deanna, along with Braves coaches Brian and his wife Ronnie Snitker and Roger McDowell visited children at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston. The players and coaches were able to visit all the children in the hospital and participated in arts and crafts activities. Braves Manager, Fredi Gonzalez and his wife Pam, and Braves players Alex Wood, David Carpenter, and Paul Maholm spent time with patients at the Shepard Center.
Homerun Readers: The Atlanta Braves Reading Program Kicks Off With The Cat in the Hat and the National Education Association
The Atlanta Braves teamed up with the National Education Association (NEA) and the Georgia Public Library Systems for our new summer reading program, “Homerun Readers.” Kids are encouraged to read a book from a suggested list, complete a quick activity at braves.com/reading and then receive a code from their library for a free Braves ticket.
To launch the reading program, the Braves and the NEA hosted a read-in at Turner Field for 200 children prior to the Braves vs. the Arizona Diamondbacks game on Sunday, June 30.
The day started with all of the kids sitting attentively on a red carpet at Homeplate Patio where they were treated to a special reading of the Dr. Seuss classic The Cat in the Hat by Braves alumni, Sid Bream, Terry Harper, and CJ Nitkowski. Much to everyone’s surprise, The Cat in the Hat himself along with Dr. Seuss characters, Thing 1 and Thing 2, made a special appearance at this event as well! After the group reading, the kids split into smaller reading groups led by volunteers from the NEA.
Everyone enjoyed a nutritious boxed lunch and then watched the Braves complete a series sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks. For more pictures, check out the NEA’s article here!
[View the story “Read Across America and the Atlanta Braves” on Storify]
If you ask anyone in Braves Country what the name Chipper Jones means to them, you’ll hear about how he was everyone’s favorite player as a child, how the number ten could never truly belong to anyone after his long and storied career in Atlanta, how he was known as the “Mets Killer.” What those fans may fail to mention is the dedication he has to the community off the field – between his Chipper Jones Family Foundation and his work with the Atlanta Braves Foundation, Chipper has been making a difference in the lives of children throughout Braves Country.
To celebrate Chipper’s career on and off the field, the Atlanta Braves are refurbishing Little League fields in the Metro Atlanta area, the first of which was West Manor Park located in Southwest Atlanta. When we first arrived at West Manor Park, the brush behind homeplate was overgrown with poison ivy, the infield was trampled and there were no defined foul lines. The benches in the dugout as well as the bleachers were warped and mismatched, and there was no sign of a pitcher’s mound. Check out the before pictures below.
The Braves brought in award winning groundskeeper Ed Mangan, who straightened out the outfield, widened and cleaned up the infield, moved the foul poles, and put in a top notch pitcher’s mound. The dugout benches were sanded and repainted, along with the bleacher seats on either side. The fencing was replaced and the brush behind the backstop was cleared and replaced with new plants and mulch. Check out the after photos below.
Chipper Jones, along with the Braves staff, Atlanta City Councilman C.T. Martin and other city of Atlanta representatives were all on hand for the field dedication on Thursday, July 27th. Following the dedication, Chipper helped with a quick hitting clinic in the newly preened outfield.
The field dedication was only the beginning of Chipper Jones’ Hall of Fame weekend. On Friday, June 28th the Atlanta Braves hosted a Hall of Fame luncheon honoring the career of the third baseman. Outside of the actual dining room was an outstanding silent auction of both Chipper memorabilia and current roster autographed items. The silent auction at the Chipper luncheon raised an outstanding $20,000 for the Atlanta Braves Foundation.
The silent auction at Chipper’s luncheon wasn’t the only thing generating over $20,000 in funds for the Atlanta Braves Foundation, as our 50/50 Raffle at that night’s game raised nearly $21,000 for the Foundation, as well as nearly $21,000 for one very lucky fan. The weekend celebration came to an end with Chipper’s induction to the Atlanta Braves Hall of Fame. Included in the ceremony were other Braves Hall of Famer’s Bobby Cox, Ted Turner, and Dale Murphy. Chipper’s number is now permanently on the third base line with those of Bobby Cox, Tom Glavine, and John Smoltz.
The Atlanta Braves Foundation 50/50 Raffle gives fans an opportunity to win big at every home game throughout the season. Fans may purchase raffle tickets from sellers throughout the stadium. The tickets are sold electronically so the current pot is constantly updated showing fans how much they can earn.
On Friday, June 28th 44,033 fans were at Turner Field for Chipper Jones’ jersey retirement ceremony. These 44,033 fans also witnessed a different kind of history that night – 50/50 raffle history. The jackpot on that particular night reached a total of $41,882 and one very lucky fan took home a whopping $20,591. That total is the highest the Atlanta Braves Foundation 50/50 Raffle has ever reached.
The winning ticket was sold by one of our top sellers, Sloan Bunting, sold the winning ticket and had the pleasure of meeting our winner – Fred Owens from Abilene, Texas. Fred Owens makes yearly trips to see the Braves play with his son and explains what he’s going to do with his big winnings in the video below:
Every year around Mother’s Day, Major League Baseball celebrates baseball fans that have been affected by breast cancer and are determined to defeat the disease. Joan Dumas, the Atlanta Braves Honorary Bat Girl, was recognized at the game on Friday, May 17th.
Joan was nominated by her best friend, Mollie Morris, for her unfailing faith and determination to conquer cancer. She eloquently described Joan’s strength through not one, but two separate battles with breast cancer. Joan never gave up and this past Mother’s Day she was able to celebrate her last radiation therapy and being cancer free once again.
As the Atlanta Braves Honorary Bat Girl, Joan was given a personalized jersey and the opportunity to be the Honorary Team Captain for that night’s game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Honorary Team Captain goes out onto the field for the pregame lineup card exchange with both team managers and umpires. Joan was joined by her two sons, her best friend Mollie, and two of her grandchildren.
To learn more about Joan, please watch the interview below with Fox Sports’ Elizabeth Moreau:
The Atlanta Braves have teamed up with Daniel H. Stanton Elementary school for a long-term partnership to help improve reading performance, decrease absenteeism, increase parent participation and encourage physical activity among students.
On Friday, May 10, we welcomed D.H. Stanton’s 5th grade class to Turner Field for their “senior trip.” The visit was an opportunity to celebrate an outstanding school year and congratulate the students as they head off to middle school. The students were treated to a special behind-the-scenes tour of the entire stadium, created Mother’s Day cards, took group pictures and then enjoyed a picnic lunch at Sky Field.
During their tour, the students had a chance to see inside a luxury suite, sit in the press box, and peek into the Braves clubhouse. After the students saw into the clubhouse, they walked down the same tunnel as the umpires and sat in the visitors’ dugout. After spending a little over an hour on the tour (and walking a little over a mile!), the students visited the Atlanta Braves Museum and Hall of Fame – exploring all of the exhibits and watching historical film.
Following the tour and museum visit, they trekked back up to Sky Field, which is located at the very top of the stadium, to create home-made cards for their moms. After an half an hour of arts and crafts, lunch was served and the kids headed back to school – just in time for dismissal.
The Atlanta Braves are proud to partner with D.H. Stanton Elementary and hope to see many more fifth graders on their way to middle school!