Former Braves employee comes to John Coppolella's defense

Several agents, opposing general managers, Braves employees and others around baseball – almost all declining to be named – have made statements or confirmed stories lambasting former Braves general manager John Coppolella and impugning his character since his forced resignation Oct. 2 amid a still-ongoing Major League Baseball investigation into alleged breach of rules regarding international free-agent signings and other matters.

John Coppolella was forced to resign Oct. 2 amid a Major League Baseball investigation into multiple rules infractions, primarily involving the signing of international free agents. (Curtis Compton/AJC photo)

But Coppolella obviously didn’t rub everyone the wrong way, or else he wouldn’t have gotten the GM job to begin with or kept it for three years (two with the title GM following one year as de facto GM working alongside president of baseball operations John Hart). And while the overwhelming majority of comments about him have been negative since this scandal unfolded, at least one former Braves employee stepped forward in support of the fallen GM.

In an email to me this week, this former Braves scout, who’s now serving in that capacity with another major league team – he asked that his name not be used, but I can confirm his identity and that it was he who sent the email – said he saw an entirely different side of Coppolella than what has been portrayed in various other accounts since his resignation.

Coppolella, by the way, has not spoken on the record in the three weeks since his resignation.

Here is part of the email from the former Brave employee. Again, it was sent to me unsolicited.

My name is (name omitted by request).... Just something I wanted to get off my chest about Coppy that hasn’t been mentioned by anyone’s sources, as it doesn’t relate to his firing.

In all of the criticism he has received for his conduct, which I won’t try to defend or even address as I don’t know nearly enough about them to have an opinion, I thought people should know how good Coppy was to people like me. There are hundreds of people out there who have wanted to get into baseball operations and sent emails to Coppy asking for advice, and each one has a thorough reply from him, with specific suggestions tailored to that person’s background, along inspirational words of encouragement. He took the time to send me an email that was over two full pages long that addressed every little question I had. I’ve run into several other people with similar stories, and am sure there are plenty others who have had email exchanges similar to ours. When I was scouting for the Braves, we had to send an email report to (various Braves officials) after finishing our coverage of a given affiliate, with a one sentence blurb on each player from that team who we thought could play in the MLB. Without fail, within an hour of sending that email, Coppy sent an email back saying thanks, asking about your family, making the extra effort to know how appreciative he was of your hard work.

Fairly or unfairly, the coverage of the scandal has painted Coppy as this heartless cheater, but to kids like me who just loved the game and wanted more than anything to be a part of it, he was a godsend. I don’t know if this info has any utility to you whatsoever, but I just wanted someone in the media to know that as much turmoil there may have been in the front office, as much as he may have pissed off other GM’s, and as egregious as his violations may have been, there is not a doubt in my mind that he is a genuinely good person, and I am confident there are plenty of others out there who would say the same thing.

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About the Author

David O'Brien
David O'Brien
David O'Brien covered the Atlanta Braves for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for more than a decade.