The sounds of "take me out to the ballgame" are getting a lot closer to home for Gwinnett residents. But what will the Richmond Braves” move to Gwinnett really mean for area high school players? Will having this team in Gwinnett help the county”s rising stars?
The answer is yes, according to Chan Brown, Parkview High School head baseball coach.
"Overall, Georgia baseball has become known as a ‘must see” for major league scouts, especially over the past five years," Brown says. "Having the Braves here will definitely put more scouts in the area, and will spark even more of a public interest in the sport, not just at the AAA and major levels, but also in college, high school and youth games."
According to Brown, the Braves organization has always had a close connection with baseball youth leagues throughout the state, and traditionally does a great deal of its recruiting in local areas, including Gwinnett. Parkview High School is well known for its baseball program and for its connections to the Braves organization, the most visible example in recent years being Jeff Francoeur. Brown adds that Francoeur still calls to check scores and see how the team is doing.
"Our players respect baseball”s tradition and they take the field knowing that they”re not only representingthemselves and their school, but all of the players who have worked hard to build this program before them. The tradition stays with them, and they bleed orange even after they leave."
According to longtime Gwinnett resident and Atlanta Braves third base coach Brian Snitker, this move will be a "win win" for all concerned.
"This announcement is great both for the Braves organization and for Gwinnett County," Snitker says. "Minor league baseball is about the event. They jazz the games up and have a lot more going on because the teams have a lot more latitude to get the fans involved. Because of the closeness of the players and the smaller, more intimate feel, fans really get in to the games, even more than you see at a pro game."
Snitker, who coached previously with the Richmond Braves, explains that fans become very devoted to minor league teams, especially as they start to see local players on the field after high school or college.
"The atmosphere makes the connection between these teams and the fans stronger," he explains. "Not only do fans get to see local boys get their chance, but they also get to see great baseball from both young, up and coming players and more seasoned, experienced players."
"The proximity of the team will be great for the Atlanta Braves as well. If we need to call up some replacements, they are less than an hour away," Snitker adds. "Additionally, since the majority of the Braves live in the area, they don”t have to travel far if they become injured or need to do some rehabilitation. This gives Gwinnett fans the opportunity to get up close and personal with players in a way they never could at a major league game."