In honor of Chipper Jones’ retirement from baseball, the Atlanta Braves Foundation pledged to refurbish ten baseball fields throughout metro Atlanta.
Earlier this month we refurbished the third field which was located at Powder Springs Park, Home of the Powder Springs Park Youth Baseball Association.
Ed Mangan, the Braves award-winning head groundskeeper, completed the work in record time! He and his crew worked hard to improve the field and make it look brand new. Some of the work they did included regrading the infield and replacing it with new sod, cutting in a new mound area and replacing all bases and homeplate, installing new nets on the foul poles.
After the field work was completed, they added the finishing touches by painting the foul poles and foul lines, the dugout benches and the scorers stand.
To celebrate the new and improved field Braves players Cameron Maybin and Ross Detwiler were joined by Braves alumni players Marquis Grissom Mark Wohlers, Terry Harper and Craig Skok for a ribbon cutting ceremony. The Braves Heavy Hitters and the Tomahawk Team kicked off the morning with an exciting performance.
Braves EVP of Business Operations, Mike Plant, spoke on behalf of the Braves and along with Powder Springs Mayor Pat Vaughn, Cobb County Chairman Tim Lee, Cobb County Commissioner Lisa Cupid and Powder Springs Baseball President Wade Baker.
To close out the dedication, a celebratory ribbon cutting was followed by a ceremonial first pitch with the Braves players and youth from the Powder Springs Baseball Association.
We look forward to coming back out to Powder Springs Park to see the youth in action on their brand new refurbished field!
The Atlanta Braves recently partnered with the Miracle League and Baseball Fantasy Camp for Kids to host its 3rd annual Miracle League baseball clinic at Hunter Memorial Park in Douglasville, GA. The Miracle League provides opportunities for children with disabilities to play baseball, regardless of their abilities, and have a great relationship with teams across Major League Baseball. More than 30 participants from Miracle League teams all over the state of Georgia showed up bright and early with a smile on their face ready to learn baseball skills from their favorite Braves players.
When the participants arrived at the park that morning, they received their very own personalized Atlanta Braves jersey, goodie bag, and tickets to that evening’s game to see the Braves take on the Miami Marlins. The players and their families were greeted by Douglasville Mayor, Harvey Persons, who then introduced our special guests for the day, Braves pitcher Andrew McKirahan, catcher Ryan Lavarnway, infielder Pedro Ciriaco, outfielder Eury Perez and Homer the mascot.
The Miracle Leaguers were split up into 4 four groups and rotated to different stations to work on various baseball skills. Braves catcher, Ryan Lavarnway, led the hitting station where participants hit from a tee on the pitcher’s mound into the fence behind homeplate. Braves outfielder, Eury Perez, led the fielding and catching stations where the participants worked on fielding ground balls. Braves pitcher, Andrew McKirahan, worked with the children on catching “cans of corn” at the pop fly station while Braves infielder, Pedro Ciriaco, led the throwing stations where he showed the Miracle Leaguers the proper technique to throwing a baseball.
To wrap up the camp, participants all ended the clinic as a group to say goodbye to their new friends before enjoying lunch.
The Fantasy Camp was a huge success and everyone involved from the Miracle Leaguers to the Braves players were able to enjoy an experience of a lifetime!! A HUGE thank you to Baseball Fantasy Camp for Kids for making this such an incredible experience for all participants. To learn more about what they are doing in our community, check out their site.
Santa let some of his favorite helpers deliver special goodies to our friends at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta – Egleston for the annual Christmas in July hospital visit last week! Braves players and their wives love this event, as they are able to personally hand deliver toys donated during the annual Braves Wives Toy Drive.
Each year, the Braves Wives host a Toy Drive prior to a Braves home game and invite fans to donate new toys that they then turn around and deliver to the kids at the hospital. Each fan who donated received an autographed photo of a current Braves player. The Toy Drive was a huge success and allowed us to spread Christmas cheer six months early!
Braves players Cameron Maybin and wife Courtney, Matt Wisler, Jace Peterson and girlfriend Bri Pugh, Ryan Lavarnway and wife Jamie, and Kristi Gomes, wife of Braves outfielder Jonny Gomes spent the morning going from room to room after stopping by the Seacrest Studios for a quick interview which broadcasted live to all hospital rooms at all three CHOA locations.
The players and wives split into groups each with a wagon full of toys. The players greeted the families, signed autographs, gave t-shirts and hats away, the wives presented the toys, posed for photos with children and the families. This truly brought a smile to the face of each child who was able to meet their favorite Braves players and receive something fun to occupy their time while staying at CHOA.
During their room-to-room visits, volunteers from the Braves front office spent the morning doing fun hands-on activities with the children who were able to leave their rooms. They made picture frames with colorful stickers and paint, and took their photos on a Polaroid camera which were printed instantly. Some of our players couldn’t resist walking past this area without stopping to help the kids finger paint and get messy.
You could feel the holiday spirit all over the hospital as we finished our visits and our players headed out to get a win against the Dodgers that evening. The parents and staff were grateful that indeed Christmas arrived early for their little ones.
Thank you to all of our Braves players, wives and front office staff for making this visit a memorable one for all these kids!
Braves pitcher Jason Grilli works hard on the mound as the Braves closer to finish games, but his energy is equally focused on giving back to the same community that cheers for him each night. Hunger Awareness is a cause close to Jason’s heart and as a member of Feeding America’s entertainment council he uses his affectionate nickname, “Grilled Cheese,” to bring awareness to child hunger.
Jason teamed up with the Atlanta Braves, Feeding America, and the Atlanta Community Food Bank to surprise students from The Study Hall with a special lunch. Our closer became “Chef Grilli” and fired up the grill to cook and serve his favorite snack, grilled cheese sandwiches.
Braves partners Kroger and Nature’s Own were huge supporters in making this visit extra special by donating the bread, cheese, and butter used to make the sandwiches.
After taking a tour of The Study Hall and learning about their garden, Chef Grilli made his way to the kitchen, put on an apron, grabbed a spatula and began flipping cheese sandwiches.
When it comes to grilled cheese sandwiches, there are few aromas better than that of butter and cheese sizzling and crisping on a grill, and by now, the kids were anxious to eat.
Grilli served lunch to all the students then joined them in the lunch room to share stories about his days in school and encourage them to eat healthy and stay active.
The Atlanta Braves hosted two clinics for Junior Braves RBI coaches as part of the Braves Youth Baseball Initiative of continuing to provide resources to various baseball and softball program and grow the sport of baseball in Atlanta. We partnered with MLB’s Baseball Tomorrow Fund, a non-profit organization that provides grants and Field Maintenance Education for the first session.
The Braves Grounds Crew, headed by award-winning field maintenance expert Ed Mangan, led the morning clinic with more than 30 local youth coaches. The Coaches learned how to prepare the mound for a game, prepare home plate, the proper way to cut the grass (with and without designs), and field measurements and dimensions (learning where to measure from and how to measure properly). They were given a behind the scenes tour of the grounds crew shop area and pump room, something that even WE have never seen. It was awesome! At the end of the clinic, Ed answered as many questions as he could. One thing he reiterated about field maintenance was, “It’s better to keep up, than catch up,” meaning it’s easier to keep the field maintained, then to let it go and try to revive it. Overall, Ed and his crew did a fantastic job teaching the skills and giving these coaches the knowledge necessary to properly maintain a field.
After the morning session, an additional 30 coaches joined us for lunch and the “Positive Coaching Alliance Workshop: Coaching For Winning and Life Lessons.” This part of the clinic was led by Will Jackson, who was on hand to teach the PCA Principles of Double Goal Coaching techniques. Will has been in youth sports as a baseball and football coach for over 40 years. The interactive workshop started by defining the Double-Goal Coach™ as one who strives to win and works to prepare his/her team to play at its highest level, and, at the same time, teaches life lessons (teamwork, dedication, bouncing back from mistakes, etc.). Will used small breakout sessions to get the coaches to interact with each other on ways they are currently coaching their players and to come up with more ways to improve their techniques. These sessions really helped the youth coaches exchange best practices and get new ideas about how to coach, teach, and motivate their players.
At the end of the session, we had one more special treat for the coaches…. Bo Porter, Atlanta Braves third base & base running coach, came and spoke to the group. Coach Porter spoke about creating an environment for youth to thrive and the three “Cs” of coaching, which he described as: 1) Commitment, 2) Competition, and 3) Coaching. He also spoke about the current Braves team and their approach on the base paths. He said, “We want to make the defense uncomfortable.” For example, too often, when a ground ball is hit, the runner doesn’t give an extreme effort to beat it out. Runners know that Major League infielders will make the play majority of time. However, if an extreme effort is given and the runner is safe, this makes the infielder uncomfortable the next time around. He used an example of a game earlier this year in Miami where a 6-4-3 Ground Ball double play should’ve been turned by Miami against the Braves, but instead the play was beaten out at first. Two batters later, a three-run homerun was hit. The double play would’ve ended the inning. That’s a huge key to winning games, extending an inning. Later that same game, another 6-4-3 Ground Ball was hit, instead this time the turn man (second baseman) rushed the exchange and dropped the ball. He attests that drop to the player being uncomfortable. Or course, everyone was listening intently and on the edge of their seat. This was one of many stories Coach Porter touched on during his time with us and we are grateful that he came!
After Coach Porter left, we thanked everyone for coming and invited them to stay for the Braves vs. Reds game that night (which we won)! It was a great event and we look forward to hosting it again next year!
This season, the Atlanta Braves launched a new girls health initiative called She Is Brave which educates, empowers and inspires girls through a series of programs that promotes self-esteem, healthy and active lifestyles and leadership skills.
As part of the She Can Dream initiative, we kicked off prom season in Atlanta with the help of the Atlanta Braves Wives. We invited 25 junior and senior girls from Atlanta Public Schools to Turner Field for an once-in-a-lifetime experience. These girls got the VIP treatment as they picked out their perfect gown and jewelry for prom, experienced hair and make-up tutorials and left with fashionable tote bags full of beauty products.
Upon arrival, the girls and their mothers were greeted and directed up to the 755 Club for a special dinner with Braves Wives Chelsea Freeman, Kristi Gomes, Gloria McDowell, Tia Johnson, Victoria Young, Veronica Ramirez, Jessica Cahill, Gabriella Perez and Bri Pugh . After dinner, we started the evening with some awesome raffle prizes from Dolce and Gabbana and Gucci including perfume, eye makeup, nail polish and lipstick compliments of Lindsey Houston of Proctor and Gamble.
The girls rotated between hair tutorials, make-up demonstrations, and the most exciting station… the prom dress station. They learned about skin care and makeup from Selena Gilbert, Make up Artist at FaceChemistry, and got amazing hair-care tips from celebrity hair stylist, Patrice Hector. Each girl also got the opportunity to peruse through the rack of over 150 dresses and jewelry to find the perfect fit for their big night. Lindsey Haas of FairyTale Endings – Helping Teens go to Prom, in Woodstock, donated all of the gorgeous gowns and sparkly jewelry.
The Atlanta Braves Wives helped each girl shop for that perfect dress. It was truly an unforgettable site to see when the girls came emerged from behind the curtain in fancy gowns and the biggest smiles on their faces. When they realized how absolutely stunning they each looked in the gowns, it was hard for any observer not to get teary-eyed.
The evening rolled on with more surprises. Each girl was called up to receive a leather tote bags filled to the brim with amazing items such as perfume, make-up and skin care products compliments of Saks 5th Avenue. They also received hair care products donated by Design Essentials and Belk gift card to purchase shoes for their big night. Last but not least, they would each receive complimentary hairstyling the day of their prom by Patrice Hector and by the wonderful hair stylists at Too Groovy Salons in Atlanta.
We were so excited to have these special guests in Braves Country for the evening, and we were thrilled to be a part of their prom. We are certain each of them looked nothing short of incredible the day of their prom thanks to our amazing vendors. If it wasn’t for these wonderful partners, we would have never been able to make these dreams come true!
Check out these wonderful news stories about the event!
On April 1st Chevrolet decided to turn “April Fool’s Day” into the #BestDayEver for people all across the country. Celebrities like Alec Baldwin, Kid Rock, Olivia Wilde, Spike Lee, Danica Patrick, Howie Long and our very own Braves Alumni Brian Jordan pitched in to participate in the surprise!
Jordan paid a special visit to the RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) program at Wade Walker Park, in Dekalb County, and surprised the players, coached and families with tickets to the Braves vs. Mets game during the Braves Opening Weekend. Homer, the Braves mascot, was also in on the surprise and couldn’t wait to see the excitement on the players faces.
So the stage was set. Two 12 year old teams were playing a scrimmage game. After the last out of the first inning, every player stopped suddenly as a Chevy Traverse drove onto the field. Not knowing what was going on, the remaining players cleared the dugouts to find out exactly why there was a car in the middle of the field. The league director then gets on the loudspeaker and asks the kids to gather around the car. Much to their surprise, Brian Jordan and Homer hop out of the car and the kids went crazy!
Jordan addressed the two teams stating that “the Best Day Ever starts with a surprise, and I’m here to surprise you, your parents, and coaches with tickets to an Atlanta Braves game!” Brian goes on to tell the young ballplayers about his dream of playing professional baseball when he was young and for them to dream big. Chevrolet reps were on site to pass out #BestDayEver shirts to all of the kids and everyone gathered on the mound to pose for a group photo.
But the surprise didn’t stop there. We had a few more special treats— AUTOGRAPHS! Jordan signed t-shirts, helmets, gloves, baseballs, bats, Braves stickers and more. After the autograph session, the kids received Braves gift bags.
Thanks to Brian Jordan, Homer & Chevrolet, this was the #BestDayEver!
On Monday, April 13, we hosted our annual Leadoff Luncheon in the 755 Club. This exclusive event raises money for the Atlanta Braves Foundation and allows fans and sponsors a chance to have lunch with a player or executive from the Atlanta Braves roster. The luncheon also includes a silent auction where guests have an opportunity to bid on one-of-a-kind Atlanta Braves autographed memorabilia.
This year’s program featured a warm welcome from Atlanta Braves President John Schuerholz, as well as discussions with this year’s new and exciting team.
Braves outfielder Nick Markakis and Braves infielder Andrelton Simmons were also presented with their 2014 Golden Glove awards.
Braves broadcasters Chip Caray, Joe Simpson, Jim Powell, and Don Sutton all facilitated round table conversations between the new blood on the team, Braves veterans, and Braves President of Baseball Operations, John Hart. Hart also spoke to the guests about the exciting future of the team and all of the possibilities ahead.
The luncheon program was informational and exciting, and every guest got a unique opportunity to spend quality time with a member of their favorite team. Overall, this was a very successful fundraiser for the Braves Foundation and a great way to kick off the 2015 Braves season!
As part of the Braves Care initiative which gets our Braves front office staff involved in monthly volunteer projects around the Metro Atlanta area. We visited the students at Agape Atlanta After School Program to tutor the students and discuss the various careers in sports.
Agape provides after school programming for elementary and middle school students including tutoring, mentoring, homework assistance, educational/recreational activities, field trips, a healthy meals.
We found out just how rusty we were at 3rd grade math homework when we tutored elementary students during the first half of our visit at Agape. We were tasked to help with multiplication, division, fractions and social studies homework. Of course the Braves accounting department employees really enjoyed helping the students with their math homework especially since they deal with numbers all day long!
During our one-on-one time with the kiddos, we also got to play fun, mind-stimulating games once they finished their school work. Some of us played dominoes, checkers, and Apples to Apples!
During the second half of our visit at Agape, we met with the middle school students and discussed the importance of education and career choices. Representatives from Security, Community Affairs, Marketing, Accounting shared their favorite subjects in school and how that helps with their day-to-day responsibilities. They also talked about getting involved in sports, maintaining good grades, and pursuing higher education.
We thoroughly enjoyed our visit with the students at the Agape After School Program, and look forward to visiting again with them in the near future. For more information about Agape, please visit AgapeAtlanta.org.
In honor of Jackie Robinson, all of Major League Baseball wears the number “42” jersey on April 15th to commemorate the day, in 1947, when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier. The most significant thing about everyone wearing the number 42 is that for one day, it’s about something more than yourself, or your team, it’s about a legacy, about history, about influence, about civil rights. Jackie Robinson stood for these things and so much more. His hard work, dedication, and character – both on and off the field – is why we remember and honor him.
In his honor, the Atlanta Braves hosted the 4th Annual Jackie Robinson Invitational presented by Delta Air Lines on Saturday, April 11th at the Atlanta Braves Baseball Academy. The tournament consisted of 16 baseball and softball teams from the Metro Atlanta area ranging from ages 5-12 years old. We used the opportunity to educate youth baseball and softball players about the impact of Jackie Robinson’s achievements and allowed teams the opportunity to showcase their talent and compete against other teams.
As teams began to arrive and check in to receive their gift bags, field staff was hard at work trying to get the fields ready for the first game. The night before a huge thunderstorm came through the area and pushed back our start time. Finally, at 10:00 am, thanks to the help of some sun and a little man power, the fields were ready and the tournament began. Teams played their first games with much excitement and after the first round of games, all teams made their way to the John Smoltz field for the Welcome Ceremony. During the ceremony, players got to hear from Braves Alumni Marquis Grissom on the impact of Jackie Robinson on his career. Marquis spoke about the nine characteristics that Robinson embodied: Courage, Determination, Teamwork, Persistence, Integrity, Citizenship, Justice, Commitment, and Excellence. Delta Air Lines Representative, Lasandra Boykin, was also present to address the teams and throw out the ceremonial pitch. After the first pitch, the winners of “A Tribute to 42” Contest were announced. Those winners just so happened to be all girls! Congratulations to Raeghan Byrom, Virginia Gwen Holbrook, Julia Cliff and Shylan Joiner of the Tyrone Tornadoes for submitting amazing artwork and poetry!
Additionally, we teamed up with Positive Athlete Georgia to award the Male and Female Positive Athlete of the tournament. These athletes were nominated by their coaches for being positive role models both on and off the field. Congratulations to Sarah Banks of the Shiloh Avengers and Chase Boines of the Sandtown Red Sox! Following the recognition and awards, each team got the chance to shake hands and take a picture with Marquiss Grissom.
To kick off the afternoon, we hosted a Pitch, Hit & Run Skills Competition for younger players. Congratulations to the following winners of each competition:
Golden Arm Pitching Champions:
Quinton Mitchell – Welcome All Nationals
Ryan Hill – Old National Braves
Fleet Feet Base Running Champions:
Justin Murphy – Old National Braves
Jayven Mack – College Park Hurricanes
Home Run Derby Champions:
Jason Cox – Welcome All Nationals
Matthew Rentz – Gresham Park Reds
During the Pitch, Hit and Run Skills Competition for the younger players, the older groups began playing the second round of games. The consolation games were up first and the teams fought hard to win their last game of the day. After those ended, the championship games began and the teams were really excited to be playing for trophies. Finally, after all day at the baseball park, we were able to crown a champion in each division. Congrats to the following teams:
5/6U Champion: Gresham Park Reds
7/8U Champion: Welcome All Nationals
11/12U Softball Champion: Georgia Crusaders
11/12U Baseball Champion: Wade Walker Park Reds
Once the tournament was complete, all teams headed over to Turner Field for the pre-game festivities. The parents, players, and coaches had the opportunity to participate in the pre-game parade and the award winners were recognized on-field during a special presentation.
Hats off to all of our participants and thanks for helping to make the 4th Annual Jackie Robinson Invitational a huge success!