Behind the photo: Most of all, Lemke was a winner

Rosenberg was the Braves beat writer for the AJC from 1991-96 and the national baseball writer for the next two seasons.

When he first hit Atlanta, no one was sure what the think of Mark Lemke. The baby-face second baseman from upstate New York, shown here in 1994, was a 27th-round pick out of the Notre Dame High School in Utica, a once-booming 19th century town that sat on the Erie Canal.

“A lot of people have left Utica,’’ he said. ‘’The place has really gone down. But I loved living there. It was my start.’’

It wasn’t long before Atlanta would be Lemke’s home and today, he still remains one of the most popular players from those great teams in the 1990s. When the Braves went from worst to first in 1991, it was Lemke who hit .417 in the World Series and collected three triples, second-most ever in the Fall Classic.

He appeared in four World Series, playing in 62 postseason games. Many don’t know that Lemke holds the major-league record for most career plate appearances without being hit by a pitch (3,664). He came by the nickname “Dirt” with good reason.

When former Braves manager Bobby Cox was in Cooperstown, N.Y., (just an hour from Utica) for a news conference announcing his induction to the Hall of Fame recently, he said of Lemke: “Mark, I love. I used to say, Mark, he can’t run, he can’t throw, he can’t hit, he can’t do this, but boy, you could sure win with him. He was a great second baseman. Great hands, turned a double play like Bill Mazeroski, who’s got a plaque here. He was a clutch-hitter and fun to be around.”

Lemke finished his career in Boston in 1998, though did appear for a season as a player-coach in the independent Northern League. For the past 10 years, Lemke can be heard doing the pregame show for the Braves on 680 The Fan and also fills in on the broadcast for Hall of Famer Don Sutton.

“After baseball, I thought I could play golf every day but that got old,’’ he said. “But I am really enjoying doing radio. I was doing the pregame for both home and away games but now just home games. It’s great. Like this week, I just finished my show (Wednesday) and I am off for a week and a half. It’s a good life.’’