2014 Atlanta Braves Honorary Bat Girl

Each Mother’s Day, Major League Baseball honors fans who have courageously battled breast cancer by hosting its annual “Honorary Bat Girl” contest. Fans around the league are invited to submit stories of individuals that have demonstrated resilience throughout their journey.

This year Mother’s Day we celebrated Lori Smith, a courageous Braves fan who “Goes to Bat Against Breast Cancer” in her daily life. As part of our continued support in bringing awareness to this disease, we were honored to present Lori as the 2014 Atlanta Braves Honorary Bat Girl.

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Initially nominated by her twin sister, Lori was ultimately selected for her incredible journey and her strength to overcome breast cancer by a selection committee including our very own Braves first baseman, Freddie Freeman, Evan Longoria of the Tampa Bay Rays, Pablo Sandoval of the San Francisco Giants, country music superstar and Atlanta Braves fan Jason Aldean, and Sam Ryan, MLB Network host and reporter.

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Lori was only 35-years-old when she was diagnosed with Breast Cancer and went through 20 rounds of chemotherapy. During this time, she worked two jobs, went through chemo during her lunch hour, and would then return to work never missing a beat. After her second week of chemo, Lori decided to shave her head and proudly sported her new look everywhere. This was her way of embracing her story and showcasing her bravery and fearlessness. Cancer never slowed Lori down, as it was simply a speed bump in the road on her incredible journey. She has been cancer-free now for two and a half years and continues to go in for regular checkups. Lori is a beacon of hope for those struggling through breast cancer recovery, with her positive attitude and demeanor.

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Pam Gonzalez, wife of Braves Manager Fredi Gonzalez along with Theresa Tosca, wife of Braves Coach Carlos Tosca met with Lori in the Braves Dugout before the game to present her with her very own MLB authentic pink bat engraved with her name, a pink laced baseball, and other goodies in celebration of her incredible journey. Lori was truly surprised when Freddie Freeman came out to meet her and give her one of his famous Freeman hugs. Braves pitchers Alex Wood and Kris Medlen also took the time to congratulate her.

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If you or a loved one is a breast cancer survivor, join us for the Atlanta Braves Breast Cancer Awareness Day on Sunday, September 21 at Turner Field. Visit braves.com/bcawareness to register. Survivors will receive a complementary ticket, a pre-game walk on the field, and a commemorative pink Breast Cancer Awareness t-shirt. We are so proud of Lori and all of the breast cancer survivors in Braves Country!

The Atlanta Braves present Heritage Weekend 2014

On May 2- 4  the 2nd annual Atlanta Braves Heritage Weekend celebrated Atlanta’s strong and rich history in the Civil Rights Movement and honored baseball’s role in affecting social change.

On Friday, May 2, the Annual Delta Champions for Justice Luncheon was held to recognize outstanding individuals who have made a lifelong commitment to overcoming industry obstacles and inspiring future generations. The 2014 Hank Aaron Champion for Justice Award recipients included retired NBA All Star Joe Barry Carroll, Olympic track and field gold medalists Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Edwin Moses, and civil rights legend and recipient of the Medal of Freedom, Reverend C.T. Vivian. This event benefited the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. More than 400 people came out to Turner Field to hear our honorees discuss the role of athletes in challenging discrimination and societal barriers. To culminate the luncheon, our very own Hank Aaron presented each of the honorees with the 2014 Hank Aaron Champion for Justice Award.

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Later that evening, the honorees came back to the Ted for a special reception and pre-game ceremony. The award recipients were driven around the warning track in convertibles before the game allowing fans to show their support and admiration for these individuals and for the work they have done to affect social change.

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On Saturday morning, we welcomed 200 youth ages 8-12 to the ballpark for the Heritage Weekend Youth Baseball Clinic led by Braves alumni, Johnny Estrada, Kevin Millwood, Jeff Treadway, Alejandro Pena and Titans Sports Academy. The children rotated to various stations including pitching in the bullpen, pop flies and ground balls in the outfield and hitting in the Braves batting cages. All participants were invited to return to Turner Field that evening to enjoy the Braves game.

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Later that evening we hosted a Negro League Celebration honoring 18 Negro League players during special reception and pre-game ceremony in an effort to recognize all they’ve done for the game of baseball. These players represented the different Negro League teams from around the country including the Atlanta Black Crackers, Kansas City Monarchs, Birmingham Black Barons, Louisville Clippers, Raleigh Tigers, Indianapolis Clowns and the New York Black Yankees.  We were excited to have Mr. Red Moore in attendance. He is the only living member of the Atlanta Black Crackers and at the age of 97, Mr. Moore gets around great and still looks good! The Braves and Giants players wore Atlanta Black Crackers and San Francisco Sea Lions uniforms to honor the Negro Leagues for the Heritage Game. Be sure to look for the Braves jerseys later this month online at braves.com/auctions. To round out the weekend, we capped off the night with an old school Kool and the Gang concert!

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Overall, Heritage Weekend was a huge success in celebrating Atlanta’s roots and historical importance in the integration of Major League Baseball. For more information on the Atlanta Braves Heritage Weekend please visit Braves.com/heritage and read the Heritage Weekend article featured on MLB.com at http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20140502&content_id=74073896&vkey=perspectives&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb.

First Annual Civil & Human Rights Education Day

On Wednesday, April 23rd, the Atlanta Braves kicked off Heritage Weekend by hosting our first annual Civil & Human Rights Education Day at Turner Field sponsored by Bank of America. This educational program, which was attended by over 600 middle and high school students, took place behind the Atlanta Braves dugout before the Wednesday’s game and focused on civil & human rights with an emphasis on baseball.

The event was hosted by Ron Gant, former Atlanta Braves All-Star and current co-host of Good Day Atlanta. The moderator was Doug Shipman, CEO for the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. Mr. Shipman has an extensive educational background in issues of race, ethnicity and gender including undergraduate and graduate studies in the history of American minority groups and religion.

The program covered topics including the role baseball has played in Civil Rights History, the significance of Atlanta Braves and Atlanta in Civil Rights and the role of students going forward with an emphasis on civil rights and anti-bullying. Ron Gant, first base coach Terry Pendleton, and current Braves pitcher David Hale, spoke to the students about making a difference.

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Although this is the first Civil and Human Rights Education Day, the Atlanta Braves were chosen by MLB to host the Civil Rights Game in 2011 and in 2012 where we honored the likes of Don Newcombe, the first African-American pitcher to reach 20 wins and to start a World Series game, Congressman John Lewis, who has been active in many sit-ins, freedom rides and other peaceful demonstrations and Academy Award winning actor Morgan Freeman. The Civil Rights Game changes cities every few years, so we introduced the Heritage Weekend in 2013 to continue honoring Atlanta’s rich Civil Rights History.

The 2014 Heritage Weekend will included the Delta Air Lines Champions Luncheon brought to you by State Farm and the Champion of Justice Award Honorees Reception presented by Grady Hospital on May 2nd. It will also include the Heritage Weekend Youth Clinic, the Negro League Reception presented by Grady Hospital and a postgame concert by Kool & the Gang presented by Coca-Cola and Delta Air Lines on Saturday, May 3rd. The 2014 awardees include Joe Barry Carroll, retired NBA All Star, Jackie Joyner-Kersey, track and field Olympic legend and gold medalist, Edwin Moses, former track and field Olympic legend and gold medalist and Reverend C.T. Vivian, civil rights legend and recent recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

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All students that participated in the Civil & Human Rights Education Day received an outfield seat for the game, lunch voucher, the educational program, and free Braves Museum access that day.

Home of the Brave – Military Family Appreciation Night

The Braves honored military personnel and their families last Saturday night at the ballpark by wearing their special military appreciation jerseys and spotlighting local military families that have family members stationed overseas.

During five military appreciation nights this season, the Braves will wear their red jerseys with white stars inside blue script and partner with a military nonprofit organization. Following each of these games, the players’ and coaches’ jerseys will be autographed and auctioned online with the proceeds benefiting several military focused charities.

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Each game worn jersey from Saturday night is currently up for auction at braves.com/auctions, from now through May 9 and all proceeds will be benefit that evening’s military partner, the Wounded Warrior Project.

More than 400 of our friends from the Wounded Warrior Project attended the game on Saturday and a few lucky Warriors were selected to experience Braves batting practice up close and personal. The Braves players were just as excited to meet the guys and sign autographs for them.

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We will host four more military appreciation nights benefitting the following organizations:

June 13 Los Angeles Angels – United States Army Anniversary/Braveheart Welcome Back Veterans Southeast Initiative

July 19 San Diego Padres – United States Marines Celebration/United Military Care

August 30 Miami Marlins – United States Navy Celebration/SHARE Military Initiative at Shepherd Center

September 19 New York Mets – United States Air Force Anniversary/USO

Be sure to visit braves.com to place your bid and support our soldiers and their families!

Braves Care – Earth Day Cleanup at Piedmont Park

In honor of Earth Day, Braves front office staff visited the Piedmont Park Conservancy to help restore a garden that the park uses for educational purposes by removing invasive plants and trash.

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Piedmont Park Conservancy is a nonprofit organization, working with the City of Atlanta for the preservation of historic Piedmont Park. Since their start in 1989, the Conservancy has successfully restored the historic portion of Piedmont Park. The Conservancy has raised and invested more than $60 million for park beautification, maintenance/security, programs, and also includes a 53-acre expansion of green space. The Piedmont Park Conservancy has also successfully transformed the once dilapidated park into the most visited green space in Atlanta.

When we arrived, the garden had a ton of built up weeds and dead plants that were completely taking over the space. During our visit, we helped remove the plants and trash that were damaging the crops and made the garden a more desirable place for visitors to enjoy. The garden manager, Mary, was eager to educate us on all the different plants in the garden, invasive ones as well as productive ones. Mary gave us a tutorial on each crop that she has planted in the garden and what it requires to help each one grow. We learned how butterflies and worms are an important part of a gardens growth and even got to try mint leaves and thyme right off the vine!

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By the time our visit at the park had come to a close, Mary’s garden and Piedmont Park looked completely transformed. We did our part to make an impact on the community for Earth Day, make sure you get out there and make a difference in preserving Braves Country!

To learn more about the Piedmont Park Conservancy, please visit: http://www.piedmontpark.org/conservancy.html

A Tribute to 42 – Jackie Robinson Invitational Tournament

The sun wasn’t even up yet when teams arrived early, warmed up their arms and took some practice cuts in the batting cages for the 3rd annual Jackie Robinson Invitational Tournament presented by Delta Air Lines on Saturday, April 12th,  at the Atlanta Braves Baseball Academy at The Villages at Carver Family YMCA.

We invited 16 local recreational teams to compete in this baseball and softball tournament for kids ages 5-12. New this year, we welcomed girls softball to the tournament, a first for the annual event, and participants were able to channel their creative side by submitting a short essay, piece of artwork or poetry depicting how Jackie Robinson’s legacy had inspired them in the “Tribute to 42” contest.

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The single elimination style tournament consisted of four teams in each age bracket, with a consolation game and a championship game.

Volunteers from Delta, Georgia State University, and the Braves 400 Club Fan Club all pitched in to help in keeping score of each game and answering questions from spectators and parents.

After all four teams in each age division had played one game, everyone headed to the John Smoltz Field for the Welcoming Ceremony and Team Pictures. Former Braves outfielder, Terry Harper spoke about how important it is for the kids to pursue their dreams and work hard to become the best they can possibly be and reiterated the importance of preserving the legacy of one of the most inspirational baseball players of all time. Delta Air Lines representative Perry Sloan spoke on behalf of Delta and their strong commitment to youth and the community. Finally the time had come to announce the “Tribute to 42” contest winners for their exceptional artwork, poetry, and essays. We are proud to congratulate our winners once again, Eric Hairston and Kenneth Hubbard of the Sandtown Red Sox, and Noah Tyler, Kadin Odum, and Joshua Sibley of the Sharpsburg Astros. Thank you for your hard work and congratulations again!

Each team went straight back into the competition, playing their consolation or championship games. At the end of the tournament, youth ages 5-8 participated in the Pitch, Hit, and Run skills competition where they were able to test their pitching abilities, base running, and homerun swings. Our Homerun Derby champions were Traquan Johnson and Victor Buchanan, Fleet Feet Base Running Champions were Jeremiah Francis and Bryce Hicks, and our Golden Arm Pitching Champions were Khmari Muhammad and Keymond Maze.

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As the tournament came to a close, all teams and their families headed to Turner Field to participate in a pre-game parade. The winners of the skills contest and the “Tribute to 42” contest were honored on field before 30,000 Braves fans. Each winner stood proud as they waved to the crowd after hearing their names at Turner Field and showed off their awards.

This will be a memory the participants, volunteers and our staff will never forget. These young baseball and softball players had the opportunity to participate in an exciting day of tournament fun while celebrating the life and legacy of #42, Jackie Robinson.

Happy Opening Day, Braves Country!

Today is one of the most exciting days of the year, the Braves Home Opener!

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Braves Country comes alive each April as we welcome the hometown boys back to Atlanta to play at Turner Field for the first time this season. This home opener marks another special day in Braves history, the 40th anniversary of the 715th homerun hit by Hank Aaron that broke Babe Ruth’s record for most career homeruns. Join us in celebrating this wonderful accomplishment by a true baseball legend today at Turner Field!

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There are several other new and exciting things happening around the ballpark this season. This is the first year fans will have to just show the ticket QR code (similar to a mobile airplane ticket) on their smartphone for entrance into the ballpark. Since adding new smartphone technology to Turner Field, fans will need to juice up to take advantage of all the bells and whistles.  We will offer five universal charging stations that will be placed around the ballpark for fans running low on their smartphone battery charge.

Also new around the concourse, Turner Field will feature six Braves branded photo booths located throughout the ballpark for fans to capture a special Braves Country memory.  The booths are located in section 126, across from STH Clubhouse Room, Skyfield, Aisle 427, Hank Aaron Ramp, FL (across/near from Right Field Patio), Aisle 231, and Family Zone (off of Fan Plaza) between claw machines.

Don’t forget to also check out the Atlanta Braves Foundation auction gazebos located inside the main gate next to the Sweetwater Brewing station and in the Suntrust Club. Come bid on unique autographed memorabilia from your favorite players.

If you are interested in donating a small fee to the Atlanta Braves Foundation for the chance to win big at Turner Field, make sure to buy a 50/50 Raffle ticket! One lucky fan at each Braves home game will walk away as the winner of a significant cash prize. Fans may purchase 50/50 raffle tickets from uniformed raffle ticket sellers starting two and a half hours before the game until the end of the sixth inning. Last year, one lucky fan went home with $23,000!

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These highlights are just a few among many new exciting features at Turner Field happening this season! Happy Opening Day everyone, and we can’t wait to see all of Braves Country out at the ballpark this season.

The Atlanta Braves Foundation Online Auction – Live Now!

Go check out the Braves online auction happening now at Braves Foundation Online Auction and bid on autographed memorabilia, unique experiences and more!

Freddie Freeman Autographed Bat & Helmet

Each month there are new items added to our online auction page, where fans are able to bid on authentic items signed by their favorite players and alumni.  Featured auction items include signed baseballs, bats, gloves, photos, and much more. A unique auction item featured in this month’s auction is our on-field experience, this once in a lifetime encounter takes fans up close and personal during Braves batting practice prior to a home game.

Craig Kimbrel Autographed Photo

All proceeds from the monthly online auctions benefit the Atlanta Braves Foundation, the non-profit charitable arm of your favorite team, the Atlanta Braves.  With fans support,  we are able to give back to local organizations through the grants program and maintain an active role in our community. Last season, the Braves Foundation awarded more than $300,000 to local non-profit organizations with support from the online and game day auctions. This is a great opportunity to obtain authentic Braves items all while supporting our mission of giving back to our community.

Remember to check out the monthly auction Braves Foundation Online Auction and bid on your favorite items before it’s too late! Bidding ends April 6th at 8:00 p.m.

Braves Care – St. Patrick’s Day at La Amistad

Each month Braves employees participate in Braves Care, our employee volunteer initiative designed to give staff the chance to give back to the community in various ways. Through this initiative, we are able to create a closer connection to our community through volunteer projects with local non-profit organizations.

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, the Braves front office staff made a special visit to the students at the La Amistad After School Program to create arts and crafts masterpieces and spend quality time with the children before their tutoring session.

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La Amistad is a nonprofit organization that works toward helping Latino students and families throughout Georgia thrive in their educational, personal, and career pursuits while working together to transform communities. La Amistad offers after school tutoring and mentoring to students that speak English as a second language, helping them achieve physical and personal growth.

During our visit, we painted four leaf clovers with puffy paint and assembled and decorated homemade shamrock kites. After the fun arts and crafts projects, we tested their baseball knowledge with a little Braves trivia. To close out the afternoon we presented each child with a personal copy of the children’s book “The Road to the Braves,” stickers and tomahawks.

The students were delighted to have us as their special guests during their after school program. We definitely made some new friends at La Amistad! This was truly a fun and unique experience for all of the staff members and children involved, and we look forward to seeing them again soon when they visit us at Turner Field this season.

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If you are interested in learning more about LaAmistad, please visit http://www.laamistadfriendship.org/

Braves Unveil New Military Appreciation Jersey

The Braves recently held a press conference to unveil a new military appreciation jersey that the team will wear this season.

Team President John Schuerholz, Braves Manger Fredi Gonzalez and first baseman Freddie Freeman unveiled the newest addition to the Braves on-field wardrobe. The Braves were honored to present the first of these authentic jerseys to General Jim Butterworth from the Georgia National Guard and Army veteran Vondell Brown of the Wounded Warrior Project.

New Jersey Unveiling

The jersey will be worn for special home games when the team is honoring the nation’s service men and women. This new jersey is similar to the red jersey as seen in seasons past, however this it will feature white stars inside of the blue Braves logo across the chest and have an American flag patch on the left sleeve.

Authentic replica jerseys will also be sold at Turner Field and at the Clubhouse Store at the CNN Center with a portion of the proceeds going to the Wounded Warrior Project.

“We have always supported and recognized our armed forces through various events and community outreach initiatives,” Braves President John Schuerholz said. “By creating this new military appreciation jersey, we can bring more attention to them while also supporting very deserving organizations who will benefit from the auctions and sales of the jerseys.”

The team will wear these special jerseys during the following games:

April 26 vs. Cincinnati Reds – Military Family Night

June 13 Los Angeles Angels – United States Army Anniversary

July 26 San Diego Padres – United States Marines Celebration

August 30 Miami Marlins – United States Navy Celebration

September 19 New York Mets – United States Air Force Anniversary

Each game worn jersey will then be autographed by your favorite players and auctioned online to benefit our military partner charities including the USO, the Wounded Warrior Project, United Military Care, Inc., Shepherd Center’s SHARE Military Initiative and BraveHeart: Welcome Back Veterans Southeast Initiative.

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Be sure to visit braves.com to place your bid and support our soldiers and their families!

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