The last time Evan Gattis came to Turner Field in 2011, he had to be introduced around. He was wearing a suit and being honored as the Single-A Rome player of the year, along with standouts from other Braves minor league affiliates.
On Monday he drove into the players’ lot as a major leaguer. Even the security guard knew who he was.
“He was like ‘Hey man, give ‘em hell this year,’” Gattis said. “It was too cool.”
Word is out, and he’s one of the best stories in baseball this spring. The 26-year-old Gattis made the majors after a four-year odyssey out of baseball including a rehab stint for substance abuse, soul-searching and a series of odd jobs.
This was the second opening day Gattis had ever attended. The other came 19 years earlier, on April 1, 1994, when he was 7 years old and went to the first game ever at the Ballpark in Arlington, Texas.
“Me and my brother would just go run around,” said Gattis, a Dallas native. “(We’d say) ’We’re meeting at our seats before the end of the game.’”
His brother Chase Gattis was at Turner Field Monday night, along with 10 other friends and family members.
“It’s exciting,” said Gattis, who is expected to get his first start Wednesday. “Just can’t wait to get out there.”
Honoring Sandy Hook
Braves players wore patches on their uniform jerseys Monday as part of the Major League Baseball-wide effort to honor the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in Newtown, Conn. Players from all 30 teams wore patches for opening day.