Opinion: Fans’ loyalty helped Braves to World Series triumph

The Atlanta Braves land at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021 after beating the Houston Astros in the 2021 World Series. The Braves are welcomed home by fans and airport employees. (Daniel Varnado/ For the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Daniel Varnado

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The Atlanta Braves land at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021 after beating the Houston Astros in the 2021 World Series. The Braves are welcomed home by fans and airport employees. (Daniel Varnado/ For the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Daniel Varnado

Credit: Daniel Varnado

FROM THE BRAVES’ CHAIRMAN

There are moments in life one never forgets. Jorge Soler’s towering 446-foot homerun - a shot heard round the world – in game 6 of the 2021 World Series is one of those moments. The instant thrill and excitement, shared with teammates and millions of fans, will endure forever.

That moment will rank in Braves lore with Sid Bream’s famous slide into home plate in the 1992 NLCS or when Marquis Grissom caught the final out in the 1995 World Series. Unforgettable moments in our history.

Many thoughts ran through my head before the final out in game 6, making the Atlanta Braves World Series champions once again.

I thought of our players, coaches and staff. Our unity, hard work and total dedication paid off. We never surrendered, even during the darkest day in July when our young superstar, Ronald Acuña Jr., tore his ACL, and was lost for the season. We were hovering near .500 and, to many, the season seemed lost.

But our team never gave up or gave in. Alex Anthopoulos went all in and retooled our team at the trade deadline, bringing in players who not only produced and made a difference, but brought harmony and positive energy inside the clubhouse. Thanks to our great manager Brian Snitker, we peaked at the right time and Snit made all the right moves.

When the Braves made the postseason, we were the underdogs. Few experts gave us any chance. We were not supposed to beat the Milwaukee Brewers. But we did. Then we were not supposed to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers. But we beat them too. Surely, we couldn’t beat the Houston Astros. But we did, and we are the 2021 World Series champions!

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Terry McGuirk

Credit: contributed

Terry McGuirk

Credit: contributed

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Terry McGuirk

Credit: contributed

Credit: contributed

I also thought of my friend Hank Aaron, the greatest Brave and the greatest baseball player to ever live. Hank Aaron was a phenomenal man of wisdom and character, a man whom I admired and loved. His presence was felt all season, especially in the World Series. As Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker said: “Hank’s footprints are all over the series.”

Hank Aaron’s life-long passion was to increase minority participation in baseball – whether that is on the field or in baseball operations. His commitment to creating opportunities, access and equity across the sport was unwavering – and the Braves’ commitment to honor that legacy is also unwavering.

I hope we are making you proud, Hank. Your number, 44, was etched onto our field and will remain in our hearts.

I also thought of our Native American partners. For more than two years, the Braves organization has made it a priority to develop a cultural working relationship within the Native American community. It has resulted in meaningful action on matters related to culture, history, education, outreach and recognition. November is Native American Heritage Month, and we honor our Native American brothers and sisters and are proud to be your partners.

Finally, and most significantly, I thought about our fans. This 2021 World Series championship is for you. The Braves could not have done this without you.

Last year, during the COVID pandemic we played without you in our stands. It was very difficult to play under the health risks and in empty stadiums. But you were patient and never wavered in your support of us.

Earlier this year, when fan restrictions at our games were removed, you showed up, filled Truist Park and cheered us on. I, and the whole Braves organization, are so appreciative of that. As we struggled during much of the season, you willed us forward, bringing us up when we were down and motivating us to win. The winning response was largely your doing.

Our fans also brought Atlanta and Georgia together. Uniting us after one of the most difficult years in a century. It was a celebration as we enjoyed incredible crowds all season. Each postseason home game at Truist Park was at or near capacity.

During the World Series games in Houston, it was inspiring for our players to see thousands of our fans there in person and see tens of thousands of fans at Truist Park and The Battery Atlanta cheering us on. We saw our fans all over Braves Country wearing their favorite Braves gear and pearls. We saw men, women, boys and girls of all races and backgrounds high-fiving, jumping with joy and uniting in their love for the Braves.

It willed us to victory.

The Battery Atlanta, home to Truist Park, is a sports and entertainment experience unlike any other, and a symbol of our unity, ingenuity and public-private partnerships. This World Series was a chance for the country and the world to see the vision we had in 2013. As a broadcaster said, “This scene at The Battery is as cool as I’ve ever been around for a sporting event.”

One of the ways we expressed our appreciation for our fans was our parade last Friday, starting in downtown Atlanta and ending in Cobb County with our concert inside Truist Park. It was a fitting celebration and a historical event for our team, our fans and our state.

Baseball is our national pastime, a uniquely American tradition, passed down in families through generations. Baseball is very personal and nostalgic. It inspires us, instilling pride and brings communities together.

It has been said that baseball reflects our society. If that is the case, we have a very positive future ahead of us.

Thank you to all our Atlanta Braves fans. The 2021 World Series Championship is dedicated to you.

Terry McGuirk is chairman, Atlanta Braves.