LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Javy Lopez is part of a three-person class to be inducted into the Braves Hall of Fame on May 23, and the three-time former All-Star catcher knows what that means.
“I’m with the big boys now,” said Lopez, who’ll be inducted with longtime former trainer Dave Pursley and the late Boston Braves shortstop Rabbit Maranville. “This is something else.”
Lopez, 43, hit .287 with 260 home runs in 15 major league seasons, including 214 homers and 694 RBIs in 12 seasons for the Braves. He was MVP of the 1996 National League Championship Series in his first season as the primary starter for the Braves, after sharing the catching duties for two seasons.
One of the most popular Braves in his time with the team, Lopez hit 23 or more home runs six times, including five for Atlanta. He batted .328 with career-highs of 43 home runs and 109 RBIs in 2003, his final year with the Braves, when he was fifth in the league MVP balloting and won the Silver Slugger Award as the NL’s best-hitting catcher.
“As a player your dream is to play baseball, but all this is something you don’t expect,” said Lopez, who lives in Suwanee and retains close ties with the Braves organization, serving as a special instructor at spring training most seasons.
“We are happy to welcome these three very deserving individuals into the Braves Hall of Fame,” said Braves President John Schuerholz, who was general manager when Lopez played for Atlanta. “This group represents the Braves organization from each city where we have played and are an integral part of our very rich history.”
Pursley was an assistant and later head athletic trainer for the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves from 1961 through 2002. He is a member of the Georgia and Indiana Sports Hall of Fames, was selected to work in four All-Star games, and won the National Athletic Trainers Association’s Most Distinguished Athletic Trainer Award in 2004.
Pursley has already been inducted into the National Athletic Trainers Association’s Hall of Fame and the Professional Baseball Athletic Training Society (PBATS) Hall of Fame.
Rabbit Maranville played parts of 15 seasons for the Boston Braves between 1912 and 1935, and was voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1954. He finished in the top 10 in MVP balloting five times in a 23-year major league career, including third in his first full season in 1913 and runner-up to teammate Jonny Evers in 1914 for the World Series champion Braves.
Maranville still ranks first in franchise history in triples (103), fifth in games played (1,795) and nine in stolen bases (194). He was voted into the Hall of Fame at Cooperstown by baseball writers in 1954.
The trio of newcomers to the Braves Hall of Fame will raise the total number of inductees to 28 including players, managers, coaches and other individuals who’ve made exceptional contributions to the franchise. The others, in alphabetical order: Hank Aaron, Bill Bartholomay, Lew Burdette, Skip Caray, Bobby Cox, Del Crandall, Ralph Garr, Tom Glavine, Tommy Holmes, Ernie Johnson, Chipper Jones, David Justice, Herman Long, Bill Lucas, Greg Maddux, Eddie Mathews, Dale Murphy, Kid Nichols, Phil Niekro, John Sain, John Smoltz, Paul Snyder, Warren Spahn, Ted Turner and Pete Van Wieren.
Tickets to the May 23 luncheon and induction ceremony at the 755 Club at Turner Field can be purchased by calling the Braves Museum & Hall of Fame at 404-614-2310. Individual tickets are $150 and include the chance to sit with a Braves Hall of Famer.