Braves staff served lunch to 100 men at the Shepherd’s Inn homeless shelter at the Atlanta Mission in honor of the Thanksgiving holiday. The Shepherd’s Inn serves around 450 men every day, providing them hot meals, counseling, and a comfortable place to sleep.
Spending quality time with these men was an amazing way to kick off the season of giving! For more information about the Atlanta Mission and the Shepherd’s Inn, please visit http://www.atlantamission.org.
In 2015, the Atlanta Braves continued their partnership with Subway Restaurants and Georgia Public Library Service (GPLS) to bring reading and healthy eating habits to students in grades K-12 throughout metro-Atlanta. In partnership with all of the public libraries in the state, we offered students a chance to earn free Braves tickets to home games along with a free Subway Restaurants “Fresh Fit for Kids” meal voucher during the 2015 season.
The Home Run Readers program is a web-based summer reading initiative to encourage students to read during their break from school. Students are then instructed to visit www.braves.com/reading and answer questions about the book they read. Upon completion, they received a certificate from their library with a code to redeem free Braves tickets online.
Throughout the summer, we visited six local libraries to promote the Homerun Readers initiative along with a very special guest, Homer, the Braves mascot. Braves staff were on site to distribute tomahawks, t-shirts, hats and more!
To celebrate the success of the program, all of the Home Run Readers were invited to a year-end “READ IN” with Braves players, Homer, the Cobb Library Cat and Library officials at Turner Field. Braves catcher Ryan Lavarnway and pitcher Andrew McKirahan read “Casey at the Bat” to more than 200 youth and their families. The players participated in a Q&A and spoke about their favorite books, baseball, healthy eating habits and the importance of reading. To close out the event, the Cobb library staff facilitated several fun rounds of “HOMER” Bingo that included common baseball terms like base runner, pinch hitter, pop fly, and many more! The winners received autographed Braves memorabilia promotional items.
Over 2,000 youth participated in our summer reading program. Special Thank you to Subway Restaurants for your continuous support.
Kudos to all of the Home Run Readers and keep up the good work!
In an effort to “strike-out bullying” in schools across Braves Country, we teamed up with the Anti-Defamation League and Braves alumni player Brian Jordan for our annual “No Place for Hate” Anti-Bullying Rally at Turner Field. This special pre-game event took place in our fan plaza for more than 500 students from across the state.
“No Place for Hate” is the Anti-Defamation League’s anti-bulling initiative designed to rally schools around the goal of creating a welcoming community and stopping all forms of bias and bullying. We incorporated what “No Place for Hate” teaches in schools into our rally that evening and encouraged students to accept one another despite differences.
Brian Jordan kicked off the rally and spoke to the crowd about his childhood experiences dealing with bullies in school which led him to write his book, “Time Out for Bullies.” Brian gave out free copies of his book to the first 250 students.
Mark Moskowitz, ADL Regional Director, gave a brief overview of what they are doing in schools to prevent bullying and shared a little history about the ADL. Erin Beacham, ADL Education Director, led the group in an interactive game called “hands up” that showed the crowd exactly what they might have in common with people unlike themselves. She also led the participants in a “Stop Bullying” chant with the help of her friend, rap artist “Tropakana,” while the participants raised their posters with anti-bullying sayings. We closed out the rally with a selfie of Erin and all of the students.
To learn more about how your school can become a “No Place for Hate” school, please visit www.atlanta.adl.org/npfh. To purchase Brian Jordan’s Time Out for Bullies book, please
This season, the Atlanta Braves partnered with UMPS Care Charities, established by Major League Baseball umpires, to help offer memorable baseball experiences for at-risk youth in mentoring programs through the BLUE Crew Tickets program. The youth participants and their mentors were selected from Big Brothers Big Sisters of America to attend a Braves game at Turner Field, and meet the umpires before the game. This experience is designed to strengthen relationships of at-risk youth and adult caregivers.
We hosted this program several times throughout the season. Upon arrival, we escorted our special guests to meet the umpires. They were very gracious, allowing the children to try on their umpire gear, step onto the field prior to the game, and answer all of their questions regarding baseball and the art of umpiring. The umpires were very engaging and enthusiastic about their jobs. Most of the guests had never attended a Braves game before, which made these opportunities all the more special. They even received their very own official Major League baseball along with goody bags courtesy of the Braves and UMPS care, full of snacks such as cracker jacks and skittles, cash to spend on food and beverage in the ballpark, Braves caps and foam Tomahawks.
Together, the Braves and UMPS Care helped to provide once-in-a-lifetime experiences and make a positive impact on the youth in our community, and we look forward to helping make more memories like these happen again next season!
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!