On July 1, 1939, Walter Banks was introduced to the world. Walter has been an usher for the Atlanta Braves for 54 years. Banks joined the Braves security staff in the offseason 1965, just in time for the team’s transition from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to Atlanta, Georgia. Since 1966, Banks has been a mainstay at Braves’ home games, attended over 4,000 games and shaken the hands of approximately 400,000 thousand fans, who ended up being a friend of his by the end of the night. I am one of those lucky 400,000. Back in August of 2012, August 13, 2012 to be exact, my dad and I took a trip to Atlanta to see Braves play the San Diego Padres in Chipper Jones’ last season. I wasn’t expecting to meet an usher that had been with the Braves for 46 years at the time. We got to Turner Field that day as soon as the gates opened and we needed help finding our seats, six rows away from the Braves’ dugout along the first baseline. So we approached this nice-looking, black gentleman and asked him for assistance in helping us find our seats. He shook our hands and showed us to our seats, at the time, I had no clue how long he had been with the Braves. A few minutes later, he made sure to stop by our seats to check on us, we told him we were fine. He then asked us “Where are you from?” We replied: “Montgomery, Alabama.” Because very few people know where Wetumpka is. He then asked dad: “When were you born?” I’m sure that dad didn’t know how to take that, but he replied “1968.” And then came the knowledge. He said “I’ve been with the Braves since they moved to Atlanta in 1966.” I was mesmerized. So I asked him, “Were you there the night Hank Aaron hit his 755th home run?” He replied: “I was I’ve never seen anything like it, that night was incredible.” At this point, I was speechless. Then he asked me “What year were you born?” I replied: “1997.” He enthusiastically said “You were born two years after we won the only World Series title in Atlanta Braves history, right across the road at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.” (The stadium had since been turned into a public parking lot for Braves fans). After a while, he asked “Who is your favorite player?” Without hesitation, I said “Chipper Jones.” He said “Chipper has been a member of the Atlanta Braves since 1993 and will someday be in the Hall of Fame.” A while passed and he said “Hang on, I’ll be right back, stay here.” I noticed that he had gone down to the Braves dugout, but the Braves were taking batting practice so I wasn’t sure what he must be doing. He came back after a minute and said “I got you something.” With his hand behind his back. I was curious to see what he had gotten me. He took his hand out from behind his back and in his hand was a baseball from the Braves dugout. I thanked him and then asked for a picture with him. He obliged immediately, saying “Absolutely!” I still have the ball on a shelf and I also still have the picture of myself with Walter. I chose to write this today because tonight, the Braves are giving away Walter Banks bobbleheads to honor the beloved usher of 54 seasons. If you ever get the chance, go to.a Braves game in Atlanta and ask for Walter Banks, you won’t be disappointed. Happy 80th Birthday, my dear friend, Walter! Braves Country loves you!
June was in fact a month for the ages. During the month of June the Atlanta Braves (50-35) compiled a record of (20-8) after Sunday night’s 8-5 loss to the New York Mets. In the 28 games last month, the Braves clubbed a franchise-record 56 homers over the course of the calendar month. That surpassed the previous record of 55, set by the 2003 Braves in May of that year by one. The previous record stood for 16 seasons. Also in the sixth month of 2019, the Braves tabbed Freddie Freeman, Ronald Acuña Jr. and Mike Soroka as 2019 National League All-Stars. Soroka and Acuña made Major League Baseball history when they were named to the team. As they are the first pair of players younger than 22-years-old, to be named to the same All-Star team in the same season. But that’s not all Acuña did in June. He will also be the eighth-youngest Brave to ever play in the Midsummer Classic at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio on July 9th. Acuña launched the record-breaking 56th home run in June 437 feet into the orange Flushing, New York skyline. Ronald will also participate in the 2019 MLB Home Run Derby. It’s only fitting that he hit the record-breaking homer. A few weeks back I received a text from a family member asking who I thought would break the franchise-record. My response? Ronald Acuña Jr on June 30th. They seemed to disagree as they thought Vanderbilt alum Dansby Swanson would club the historic homer. I responded to them with “I don’t care who hits it, but I’ve got a feeling it’ll be Ronald Acuña Jr., but either way we’re breaking it.” Little did I know that my prediction would be absolutely spot-on. What a month June was. If June was a prelude into July, then what should we expect in the seventh month of 2019? The next Braves game is Tuesday, July 2, 2019 vs. Philadelphia at 7:20pm ET. The Phillies haven’t named a starter as of right now. Dallas Keuchel makes his third start in a Braves uniform on Tuesday.
For weeks the Atlanta Braves have been hotter than ever. With 55 home runs in the month of June and the best June record across Major League Baseball but that’s not all…with last night’s 5-4 win over the reeling New York Mets, the 2019 Atlanta Braves became the fastest Braves team to reach 50 wins since the 2003 team did so in 77 games. The 2019 squad accomplished that feat in 84 games. The 5t homers in June puts Atlanta within two of breaking that record set back in May of 2003 when the Braves hammered 55 homers. In addition to their on-field success, two Braves were named to the National League All-Star team as starters. Ronald Acuña Jr and Freddie will represent Atlanta at the Midsummer Classic in Cleveland, Ohio at Progressive Field, home of the Cleveland. Manager Brian Snitker was also named an assistant coach for the All-Star Game. As well as several Braves named as National League reserves. With just one more homer tonight, Atlanta would break the franchise record for homers in a calendar month which stands at 55 in May, 2003 as of right now. This team gets hotter as the weather heats up. What’s next for the red-hot Atlanta Braves?
We’re almost done with the month of June, as we have now reached the 26th day of the sixth month of 2019. The month of June has been a very, very productive one for the Atlanta Braves. In fact, they have a record of (17-6) this month, which ranks as the best June 2019 record in the entire league. Through 23 games in 26 days, not including tonight’s game at Chicago, the Braves offense has been absolutely deadly, launching 48 baseballs into stands all across the country. According to 680 AM The Fan’s Kevin McAlpin, the last time the Braves hit more long balls in a month came in July 2006 when they launched 50 homers. According to him, the franchise record for home runs in a calendar month is 55 which was set back in May of 2003. Who knows, with four more days left in the month of June and five more June games left to play including tonight’s game, Atlanta is just 7 homers away from tying the franchise record for home runs in a calendar month and 8 away from setting a new franchise record for homers in a calendar month. There’s still time to set a new record. Even though June is winding down, it can be done. I’ve seen crazier things happen. Tonight’s game at Chicago will feature Dallas Keuchel on the hill for Atlanta and Yu Darvish will get the call for the Chicago Cubs. First pitch is scheduled for 8:05pm ET.
Picture: Atlanta Braves Twitter.
Before Spring Training even started, MLB experts, were predicting the Atlanta Braves to be towards the bottom of the National League East, these critics may have thought of them as “cellar dwellers” or “bottom feeders”, pick a term at your own risk. Because so far in 2019, Atlanta has proven that it can in fact, step on the field with some of the league’s most potent offenses and more times than not, the Braves have had the last laugh at (46-32) on the year and a .590 winning percentage. According to Kevin McAlpin, with 680 The Fan, the Braves flagship radio station in the Atlanta, Georgia area, the Braves entered yesterday’s matinee rubber-match with the third-place Washington Nationals with a (45-32) record, that was identical to their 2018 record through 77 games but their National League East lead is two games ahead of where it was 365 days ago. I know, some of you will probably say the cliche “There’s a lot of games to be played.” Yes, I know this. Some of you have already said “They’ll collapse at the end like they always do, you’re not old enough to know that.” As a matter of fact, I am old enough to know what you’re talking about. I’ve seen it happen before and I’m not saying that it won’t happen again. But what I am saying is this. Atlanta is hungry to get back to the playoffs in 2019. Yes, they will lose a few more down the road but what playoff team doesn’t? If you don’t lose, you won’t know how to win. This team is looking to prove critics wrong and defend their NL East division title. Critics being both expert and ordinary. Yes, baseball season is in fact the longest in all of sports, but being the die-hard fan that I have been for 21 years and counting, I have faith in Atlanta. They could lose every game from here on out and I’d still love them. Their next game is Monday, June 24, 2019 at Chicago Cubs. Julio Teheran (5-5, 3.40) will get the ball for Atlanta while Jon Lester (6-5, 4.13) will take the mound for Chicago. First pitch is scheduled for 8:05pm ET.
Just three months ago, back on April 2, 2019, just hours after attending and throwing out the ceremonial first pitch of the Atlanta Braves home-opener against the Chicago Cubs, Braves fans all across the country were shell-shocked at the news that they would receive next. Bobby Cox, the man who led Atlanta to an unprecedented 14-consecutive National League pennants, had suffered a stroke. But being the strong-willed man that Bobby is, he managed to make his way to a neighbor’s house before calling an ambulance. Since then, Braves Country has worried, prayed and wondered about the condition of the beloved long-time skipper. On Thursday, June 20, 2019, Bobby Cox was able to go back to his Marietta, Georgia home. Which was a huge sigh of relief for millions of people, including myself. The news was broken by Ken Rodriguez, a sports news director at a local Georgia television station. Though Cox was left with paralysis on his right side and the inability to speak for a number of months, the larger-than-life figure has not slowed down. Thursday, Cox was speaking, hitting a ball off of a tee and throwing the baseball with his therapy dog as well as talking about the Braves. Though Cox hasn’t been at the helm of Atlanta since 2012, he said “I watch every game.” Bobby also has high hopes for himself as does all of Braves Country. Cox also said “I hope to be there for Spring Training.” His wife, Pamela Cox said “I think the biggest frustration for him is his speech, but it will get better with time.” Cox then looked at his wife and smiled. Bobby has been kept constant company since April 2nd by his beloved grandchildren. “They light up a room.” He said with tears in his twinkling eyes. If there’s one word that describes Bobby Cox, it’s “fighter”. Get well soon, we love you Bobby!
Coming into the Braves’ most recent 10-game home-stand, Josh Donaldson, an Auburn alum, was seeming to have the veteran plate presence that he so often put on display during his time in the American League with the Toronto Blue Jays. Over the 10-game home stand, the Braves went 8-2 on the 10-game home stand. This is the first 8-2 home stand since 2012 when they went 8-2 against Philadelphia, Miami and Houston in August of that year. Donaldson, a former American League MVP, played a huge role in Atlanta’s most successful 10-game home stand since 2012. He found multiple ways to get to pitchers over those 10 games. His biggest impact came when he belted a two-run homer against the New York Mets. His homer was a key factor in the win and his bat was key all week long. He’s reassuring Braves fans that he is still the power source that he was in Toronto and he’s doing it in big ways. He isn’t called the “Bringer of Rain” for nothing and he proved that during this lengthy home stand. The Braves have Thursday off and will travel to Washington, D.C. to tangle with the Washington Nationals starting Friday, June 21, 2019. Dallas Keuchel will more than likely make his much-anticipated Braves debut on Friday while Washington will counter with Stephen Strasburg.