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!
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.