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Braves Country Caravan hits Paulding
by Marcel Pourtout
mpourtout@neighbornewspapers.com
February 05, 2014 11:34 AM | 1893 views | 0 0 comments | 29 29 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Staff / Marcel Pourtout<br>Atlanta Braves’ Chris Johnson, left, and Jonny Venters sign autographs for fans at Academy Sports + Outdoors in Hiram last Saturday.
Staff / Marcel Pourtout
Atlanta Braves’ Chris Johnson, left, and Jonny Venters sign autographs for fans at Academy Sports + Outdoors in Hiram last Saturday.
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The Atlanta Braves’ Country Caravan, an interactive event for fans to meet the coaches and players of the team, made its final stop of the offseason at Academy Sports + Outdoors in Hiram last Saturday.

More than 360 fans attended the event and were able to meet Braves’ infielder Chris Johnson, pitcher Jonny Venters, assistant coach Eddie Perez and Gwinnett Braves’ manager Brian Snitker.

The event concluded a tour that saw the Braves hold events throughout the Southeast at locations including Chattanooga, Tenn., Birmingham, Ala., and Nashville, Tenn.

“The Braves are part of the heritage of people in the Southeast,” Snitker said, entering his 38th year with the organization and his first in Gwinnett after spending the past 11 seasons with the major league staff.

“There’s such great tradition here and we receive support throughout the country with a large contingent of Braves’ fans.”

The players and coaches will travel to Orlando, Fla., next week for spring training with pitchers and catchers officially reporting into camp on Feb. 14.

“The offseason has been going pretty good,” Johnson said. “I’ve been working hard in the gym making sure my body is ready to go. This event was awesome and gets you excited for the season.”

The Braves, who won the National League East division title last season, have high hopes coming into this year’s campaign.

“I’m very optimistic about our team,” Venters said. “We’re coming off of a great season and expect to do the same. We have great fans and they’re some of the best in the game.”

The event also brought Braves’ alumni, including 80-year-old Hiram resident Taylor “T-Bone” Phillips, who pitched in the major leagues for six seasons including two years with the Milwaukee Braves, winning the World Series in 1957. He has lived in Paulding County since 1964.

“It’s wonderful that the Braves work with the communities,” Phillips said. “I’ve been fortunate to do camps for young kids and all of them want to play for the Braves. The team has promoted itself well.”

The Braves open the regular season on March 31 at the Milwaukee Brewers.

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