Javy Lopez: ‘I’m with the big boys now’

“I’m with the big boys now,” said Lopez, who’ll be inducted with longtime former trainer Dave Pursley and the late Boston Braves shortstop Rabbit Maranville. “This is something else.”

Lopez, 43, hit .287 with 260 home runs in 15 major league seasons, including 214 homers and 694 RBIs in parts of 12 seasons for the Braves. He was MVP of the 1996 National League Championship Series in his first season as the primary starter for the Braves, after sharing the catching duties for two seasons.

One of the more popular Braves in his time with the team, Lopez hit 23 or more home runs six times, including five for Atlanta. He batted .328 with career-highs of 43 home runs and 109 RBIs in 2003, his final year with the Braves, when he was fifth in the league MVP balloting and won the Silver Slugger Award as the NL’s best-hitting catcher.

He signed with Baltimore as a free agent after the 2003 season and retired after playing 2 1/2 seasons with the Orioles and finishing with 18 games for Boston in 2006.

“As a player, your dream is to play baseball, but all this is something you don’t expect,” said Lopez, who lives in Suwanee and retains close ties with the Braves organization, serving as a special instructor at spring training most seasons.

“We are happy to welcome these three very deserving individuals into the Braves Hall of Fame,” said Braves president John Schuerholz, who was general manager when Lopez played for Atlanta. “This group represents the Braves organization from each city where we have played and are an integral part of our very rich history.”

Pursley was an assistant and later head athletic trainer for the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves from 1961-2002. He’s member of the Georgia and Indiana Sports Hall of Fames, was selected to work in four All-Star games, and won the National Athletic Trainers Association’s Most Distinguished Athletic Trainer Award in 2004.

Pursley has been inducted into the National Athletic Trainers Association’s Hall of Fame and the Professional Baseball Athletic Training Society (PBATS) Hall of Fame.

Rabbit Maranville played parts of 15 seasons for the Boston Braves between 1912 and 1935, and was voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1954. He finished in the top 10 in MVP balloting five times in a 23-year major league career, and was runner-up to teammate Johnny Evers in 1914 for the World Series champion Braves.

Maranville still ranks first in franchise history in triples (103), fifth in games played (1,795) and nine in stolen bases (194). He was voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1954.

The trio of new inductees to the Braves Hall of Fame will raise the total to 28, including players, managers, coaches and others who’ve made exceptional contributions to the franchise. Among the luminaries inducted: Hank Aaron, Skip Caray, Bobby Cox, Tom Glavine, Ernie Johnson, Chipper Jones, David Justice, Greg Maddux, Eddie Mathews, Dale Murphy, Phil Niekro, John Smoltz, Warren Spahn, Ted Turner and Pete Van Wieren.

Tickets to the May 23 luncheon and induction at the 755 Club at Turner Field can be purchased by calling the Braves Museum & Hall of Fame at 404-614-2310. Individual tickets are $150.

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