One of the questions I am asked a lot is: “What do you guys actually do 5 to 6 hours before a night game?” It’s a good question, and one that changes day-by-day, so I thought I’d walk you through my pre-game routine before yesterday’s home game against the Milwaukee Brewers.
With Catie out of town visiting family, I was able to get some of my off-field obligations out of the way. When Catie is with me, we like to spend as much time as possible together, but since she was gone, I took the middle of the day (from about Noon-2 p.m.) to get some of my business affairs in place. That meant staying at home (it’s getting hot here in Atlanta, so air conditioning is becoming my best friend) and signing a set of 3,000 baseball cards to sign for the company Upper Deck, the trading card company who I have a relationship with. I can’t sign all 3,000 cards at once (I’m pretty sure my hand would fall off, which wouldn’t make Bobby Cox, our manager, happy) so I signed about 300 baseball cards in half an hour and then got ready to head to the field.
At around 2 p.m. I arrived at Turner Field. I’m usually one of players that gets there the earliest. I like to spend some time in the video room talking to the coaches, or getting some treatment from our trainers. After that, I spent some time in a Bible study session. The Bible study session was a chance for me to clear my mind, and put a lot of things in perspective. Many players throughout Major League Baseball are active participants in some sort of Bible study session, and I’m no different. Faith and family are important to me, so this is something that I like to do when I have the chance.
At about 3:45 p.m. (3 and a half hours before first pitch) I was excited to come out to the field because of two reasons: the first was that I had been selected by the charitable organization Dream House to film a Public Service Announcement that will be shown across the city of Atlanta and state of Georgia. (See photos from the shoot here). As some of you know, Dream House is an organization dedicated to helping medically fragile children, and I have teamed up with Delta to donate 25,000 SkyMiles to the facility for every home run that I hit. Dream House (which received almost a million SkyMiles last year from Delta) is then able to fly their children across the country to hospitals where they can receive the absolute best treatment. It was very touching to hear yesterday from their CEO, Laura Moore, that thanks to these SkyMiles, they were able to fly a young girl from Atlanta back and forth to a specific hospital in Pittsburgh to receive the best medical attention possible. It makes everything we do worth it.
After I wrapped up the filming of the PSA (it took me a few ‘takes’ to master the script- I had to check out the script a couple times to make sure I memorized the words correctly) I walked back to the dugout around 4:15 p.m. and met up with the first round draft picks of the Atlanta Falcons, Matt Ryan (Quarterback) and Sam Baker (Offensive Lineman).
Fellow Atlanta Players
Matt and Sam were at Turner Field to do a promotional bit for the Falcons where the three of us were filmed by the Falcons video staff talking and getting to know each other. Matt and I hit off a friendship quickly. Some of you may not know this, but in 2002 I actually signed a football scholarship to play defensive back at Clemson University, which is an ACC school located in South Carolina. Matt, who the Falcons picked 3rd overall in this year’s draft, was the starting quarterback for Boston College the past few years, another ACC school. It’s funny how our careers worked out. Who knows, I might have been on the other side of the football field from Matt the past few years, trying to pick off his throws. Instead, I’m the right fielder for the Atlanta Braves and he’s the (future) starting quarterback of the Atlanta Falcons.
Since he’s new to the town (he admitted he’s a Phillies fan because he grew up outside of Philadelphia) I’m looking forward to spending some more time with him and showing him what’s great about the city of Atlanta. He’s a very cool guy and we scheduled to play some golf in the near future. I’m also a big Falcons fan (Delta also proudly sponsors the Falcons!), so I told him I’ll plan on catching him at his games this fall.
By the time Matt and Sam left it was nearly 4:40 p.m., which is the normal time for batting practice and warm ups. From 4:40 p.m. on it’s about nothing but focusing on the game, taking care of some minor adjustments, autographing anything and everything for the fans, and then getting ready to run out there and play for the Braves!
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