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.
On Monday, June 13, the Atlanta Braves honored Lindsey Haas as a Braves Country Community Hero presented by Chick-fil-A. Lindsey is the founder of Fairy Tale Endings, a non-profit organization that collects dresses, shoes, and jewelry for disadvantaged teenage girls to attend prom. Fairy Tale Endings hosts private fittings and provides complimentary hair, make up, and photography services. Girls are referred to Fairy Tale Endings by guidance counselors at school, so that no other students know that they are in need.
After the birth of her first child, Lindsey wanted to show her daughter the importance of giving back to the community and the impact that one person can have. Lindsey had about 25 dresses that she didn’t know what to do with. Many of the dresses had sentimental value, so she wanted to do something special with them. In the first four months of Fairy Tale Endings, Lindsey was able to collect 600 dresses. Since Lindsey began her work in 2009, she has helped make the dreams of over 150 girls come true. Lindsey shared that the biggest personal reward is watching these girls transform into true princesses.
Fairy Tale Endings is in need of monetary donations to help with dry cleaning bills and prom tickets for those girls who can’t afford to attend prom. Larger dresses are harder to come by, so the organization is always looking for dresses size 16 and up and silver high heeled shoes.
To learn more about Fairy Tale Endings, please visit www.fairytaleendings.org.
Watch the video below to see Lindsey being honored at Turner Field!
The Atlanta Braves Foundation recently hosted our largest fundraiser of the season — Foundation Weekend. This annual event is a sports memorabilia sale and silent auction. Fans are able to purchase and bid on unique autographed memorabilia including bats, baseball and jerseys, one-of-a-kind Turner Field collectibles, framed pieces, and VIP experiences.
To ensure that there was something for every fan, young and old, at all price points, raffle were held for select autographed items. To make it fun and interesting, we allowed fans to purchase enough tickets to stretch the length of their wingspan for only twenty dollars! Fans were also encouraged to take advantage of Blue Light Specials where for a 10 minute period, certain autographed items were significantly discounted.
The funds raised during the Atlanta Braves Foundation Weekend will be distributed to numerous nonprofit organizations in Metro Atlanta through the foundation grants Program. For more information on the Atlanta Braves Foundation Grants Program, please visit www.braves.com/grants.
Thank you to all who supported the annual Atlanta Braves Foundation Weekend!
Youth baseball players ages 11 – 17 years old, were invited to Turner Field for the annual PLAY (Promoting a Lifetime of Activity for Youth) Clinic.
Atlanta Braves Athletic Trainer Jeff Porter kicked off the event with a warm-up similar to that of the BIG League players.
Following the warm-up, the athletes were divided into three groups and rotated to different stations including batting practice with Assistant Athletic Trainer Jim Lovell in the Braves batting cages; strength, agility and sprints in right field; and a Homerun for Health Station led by the Henry Schein Cares Foundation. Next the Taylor Hooten Foundation educated the athletes on the dangers of appearance and performance enhancing drugs.
After the on-field events, the athletes enjoyed lunch thanks to Papa Johns and a Q&A with Braves outfielder, Nick Markakis. “We want to be good role models for the kids,” Markakis said. “We understand that a lot of youth are put in tough situations. From my standpoint, if I can help out 1, 2, or 3 kids, that can go a long way. This is a great opportunity to work with these kids and teach them how to do things the right way. I was honored to do it.” Markakis continued to share how important it is to do well in school and take education serious. He ended by taking photos with the baseball players and signing autographs.
Each participant received a gift bag from the Henry Schein Cares Foundation and two tickets to the Braves vs. Reds game that evening.
Special thanks to our partners the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society (PBATS), the Taylor Hooten Foundation, Major League Baseball Charities, and Henry Schein Cares Foundation; and to Jeff Porter, Jim Lovell, and Nick Markakis for their time.
For more coverage on the PLAY Clinic, check out Jon Cooper’s article at MLB.com: http://m.braves.mlb.com/news/article/183875014/nick-markakis-braves-host-play-youth-event
Community Heroes Week presented by the Atlanta Braves Foundation and Fox Sports South is a week-long community initiative that will highlight remarkable stories of inspirational individuals.
The initiative celebrates everyday people making a positive impact within their community regardless of their circumstances, in hopes of ultimately inspiring acts of kindness and giving back, both big and small, throughout Braves Country. The Community Heroes Week will highlight various acts of goodwill, often in the face of adversity or personal battles that will inspire others to become a catalyst for positive change in their communities.
Throughout Community Heroes Week, the Braves and Fox Sports South will shine a spotlight on a different individual, family or organization worthy of recognition and support.
In an effort to reward the honorees for their courage, resilience, and service, each of the four honorees will be given a day of their dreams, complete with surprise elements involving Braves players, Fox Sports South personalities, dignitaries and other special guests. Each day will allow the honorees the opportunity to share their inspirational stories with the rest of Braves Country. To culminate the day, each honoree will be invited to Turner Field for a VIP experience and special ceremony during Braves games on August 16-19.
By involving our players, coaches and staff during the celebration of Community Heroes Week, the Braves and Fox Sports South are sending the message that everyone can give of themselves to make their community a better place. To that end, highlighting extraordinary individuals during Community Heroes Week provides an opportunity to generate awareness for specific causes and organizations.
The Nomination Process
We’re asking 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. To nominate these inspirational individuals visit www.braves.com/inspire. The nomination deadline is Friday, July 22, 2016.
On Memorial Day, the Atlanta Braves honored Scott Jergler, Director of the Atlanta Police Athletic League (PAL), as a Braves Country Community Hero presented by Chick-fil-A. Atlanta PAL is a youth crime prevention initiative that includes recreational, athletic, and educational activities with the goal of building positive relationships between police officers, young people, and the community.
As the Director of PAL, Scott is in charge of day to day activities, in addition to being a coach. Scott coaches a youth baseball team, but he is actually more than a coach to the boys. He takes his team to other events outside of practice and games such as various forms of live entertainment, including a New Orleans Jazz Concert where the boys hopped up on stage to dance.
Scott keeps in touch with past players and hopes to be a resource for them in years to come. He has several former players who are currently in college and Scott shared that these boys are doing better than he could’ve hoped.
Please join the Braves in thanking Scott for all that he is doing for the Atlanta community.
For more information on the Atlanta Police Athletic League, please visit: http://www.atlantapal.com/
Watch the video below for the Braves’ tribute to Scott Jergler.
Over Memorial Day Weekend, the Atlanta Braves celebrated Play Ball Weekend with several events taking place at the ballpark and in the community. Play Ball is a nationwide initiative launched by Major League Baseball and USA Baseball to celebrate and encourage youth participation in baseball, softball, and other various forms of the game including whiffle ball, stick ball, and several others.
On Friday, 30 youth baseball players, ages 14 – 18, attended pregame batting practice at Turner Field and spent time with Braves Rookie, Mallex Smith in the dugout. Mallex talked about how he approaches the game, and life, by making sure he works harder than anyone else to be successful.
On Saturday, the Atlanta Braves surprised youth baseball players at an early-bird tournament at Clarkdale Park in Austell, GA. Former and current Braves players including Brad Clontz, Javy Lopez, Matt Wisler, and Mallex Smith played whiffle ball with four teams and served as “celebrity coaches.” The Heavy Hitters, Tomahawk Team, and Homer lead the surprise parade of players into the park. Later that afternoon, youth from Clarkdale Park were asked to be a part of the Chevy Youth parade prior to the game.
Sixteen lucky youth who are part of various youth baseball leagues around Metro Atlanta were selected to participate in a cap giveaway, where they had the opportunity to be a part of player introductions during pregame of the Braves vs. Marlins game. Each kid received an autographed hat from the Braves and Marlins starting players.
Playball Weekend culminated on Sunday with a Kids Only press conference with pitcher Mike Foltynewicz and infielder Chase d’Arnaud. The little leaguers asked a variety of questions from their about their pregame meals, favorite baseball position growing up, and even their favorite animal (Mike Foltynewicz loves giraffes)!
We want to thank all the families and kids who were a part of the Atlanta Braves Play Ball Weekend! Keep playing the game we all love!