MIAMI — As a kid years ago, Matt Olson grew up in metro Atlanta watching Andruw Jones, Chipper Jones and the rest of those Braves who captured the hearts of the team’s fans. He soon starred at Parkview High, where he provided a glimpse of the tantalizing potential and the character that have made him one of MLB’s top first baseman.

This is, in a way, the perfect story.

On Saturday, it reached its most heartwarming point as Olson, the lifelong Braves fan, wrote his name into the record books by hitting his 52nd home run of the season. With it, he surpassed Andruw Jones, who launched 51 home runs in 2005.

“I probably wouldn’t have believed it,” Olson said when asked what he might think if someone told him, when he were a boy, that he would one day break Andruw’s record.

In the top of the sixth inning at loanDepot park, Olson, facing Steven Okert, demolished a 433-foot solo home run to right-center field to tie the score. Olson watched it for a few seconds, then began his trot around the bases. He didn’t showboat. He simply rounded the bases, went into the dugout and embraced the teammates and coaches waiting for him – a sign of his humility.

But make no mistake: This was a historic moment.

That it happened with the Braves made it sweeter. This would’ve meant a lot had Olson done it anywhere, but hitting this monumental home run in a Braves jersey made it even more special.

“Yeah, it gives it a little bit more, being a Brave and doing it, being from the area and a bunch of friends and family who are Braves fans, and they want to come and watch,” Olson said. “A moment I’m sure I won’t forget.”

In a postgame exchange meant to retrieve his ball, Olson gifted a bat to the fans who ended up with it. He also took pictures with them. “It was cool to get the ball back,” Olson said. “I’m sure it’ll be a nice keepsake to have.” It probably won’t be his last memento. He has the talent, potential and work ethic to continue pursuing greatness.

In their storied history, the Braves have employed Andruw and Chipper, Hank Aaron and Eddie Mathews, Dale Murphy and Freddie Freeman.

Olson is the only one to hit 52 home runs in a single season.

Since 1995, only 15 players have totaled at least 52 home runs – and Olson is one of them. This feat has occurred only 24 times in that span, as there are repeats on the list.

“Just to go into the Atlanta Braves lore, it’s awesome,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “Couldn’t happen to a better guy. Just really happy for him.”

“It’s been awesome,” hitting coach Kevin Seitzer told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution about witnessing Olson’s historic season. “I’m just so happy for him to do as good as he’s done this year. Last year, he had a hard time and first couple months (this year), he had a hard time. And boy, when he got going, it’s been fun.”

Olson, who debuted in 2016, spent the first part of his career with Oakland. He was a budding star. In the spring of 2022, the Braves, accepting they wouldn’t be re-signing Freeman, swung a blockbuster trade to land Olson, who has almost seamlessly filled the void.

It perhaps put undeserved pressure on Olson, who stepped into a situation that could’ve been awkward. The Braves had just moved on from a franchise icon. There are Braves fans who will always adore Freddie Freeman, but Olson has certainly quieted the critics who felt he would never live up to Freeman’s impact.

“He’s just the ultimate teammate,” Seitzer said of Olson. “He’s been everything we could’ve asked for. If we had to lose Freddie and replace him, Matt Olson is the guy that you’d want on your team.”

Credit: Jason Getz /

Credit: Jason Getz /

The Braves are an organization that always has possessed an identity forged by their stars. The Braves’ legends always lived up to that standard. They were known for hard work and grit, passion and purpose. They wanted to win – badly. They were all about their teammates.

Olson fits right in with this model of the perfect Brave.

“He typifies it,” Snitker said recently. “If you’re gonna go out and build one, that’s what it would look like.”

Olson is a two-time All-Star with two Gold Glove Awards. But he’s also one of the sport’s top sluggers and run-producers. His 52 home runs are seven more than anyone else, and his 129 RBIs are comfortably ahead of the field.

And as talented as Olson is, he also beloved is in the clubhouse. He has inserted himself into the Braves’ dynamic with ease. His teammates love him.

“It makes it easy to root for him,” Austin Riley recently said. “He’s such a good guy, humble guy. Likes to have fun. I always say he’s ‘for the boys,’ and that’s what it’s about. You’re with each other so long – it’s 162 games, including spring and everything. He’s very humble, and it’s cool to see.”



Olson’s 52 home runs and 129 RBIs – as of Saturday – also put him in elite company. He is the 12th player since 1995 to amass those totals. It now has been done only 18 times in that span. (There are repeats on the list.)

Olson is not done yet. The Braves have 14 games left in the regular season. Olson can add to his home run total. Plus, he might soon catch Mathews, who drove in 135 runs in 1953 and still holds the franchise’s modern-era (since 1900) record for RBIs in a season.

The 2023 Braves are having a special season, from individual feats to team accomplishments. They are setting up themselves to be unlike any club in Braves history. They’re doing things that haven’t often been done – or even at all.

And now, Olson stands alone atop the franchise’s list for home runs in a single season.

“Pretty special – I think for all of us,” Snitker said. “I think everybody felt so good for him, happy for him. It’s a pretty neat thing.”

After high-fiving and hugging teammates in the dugout, Olson sat on the bench near the railing. He cocked his head back and appeared to sigh. Then he continued watching the game.

“Cool moment,” he said. “One of those where I guess you do take a deep breath and realize it for a moment.”

He had just made history.