Braves Fest has fans buzzing over 2024 potential

January 29th, 2024

This story was excerpted from Mark Bowman’s Braves Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

Braves Fest provided teammates a time to reunite and grow excited about the upcoming season.

“Getting with [Matt] Olson was fun again,” Braves catcher Travis d’Arnaud said. “I was going to come in and make fun of him right away, but he opened the conversation with, ‘I know you’re going to make fun of this, this, this and this.’ That caught me off guard. I was in silence.”

Told what d’Arnaud had remarked, Olson said: “It’s the same thing every time. He’s got a couple of things he goes to.”

But everything was new to left fielder Jarred Kelenic, who was acquired from the Mariners in December.

“It was really fun to meet everybody,” Kelenic said. “Biggest thing I've noticed right away is just the people. Not only the guys on the team and the staff, but the fans too. They're so fun. We had [a Gala Friday night] and we were having such a great time. I’m so fired up to be here. I can't wait to go to work and play for these guys and this organization. You know, I've only been a Brave for like a month or so. And I'm proud to be a Brave. It's like the weirdest thing.”

An estimated 50,000 folks ignored rainy conditions as they converged upon Truist Park and The Battery to enjoy the Braves Fest activities on Saturday. This was just another opportunity for manager Brian Snitker to feel some of that same passion that has existed since he joined the organization in the late 1970s. 

At that time, the Braves’ national reach was just starting to grow. TBS was beaming games nationwide. Consequently, broadcasters Ernie Johnson Sr., Skip Caray and Pete Van Wieren were recognized as they walked around San Diego, Houston and other towns on road trips. Dale Murphy and Bob Horner practically became reality TV stars to those who savored the chance to watch what the Braves were doing on a daily basis.

The success of the 1990s strengthened the reach of Braves Nation, which has remained strong courtesy of today’s star-studded team.

“Braves Country is real,” Snitker said. “To see how everybody came out with the weather and the elements is just a strong testament to our fans, who sell this place out throughout the season. It’s rocking every night. The players appreciate the energy the fans bring to this place.”

Braves pitchers and catchers are set to report to Spring Training on Feb. 14, but players will start arriving in North Port at various points over the next few weeks. Chris Sale lives in Naples, a little more than an hour south of the Braves’ facility. So he’s already started to get acquainted with his new team’s Spring Training site.

Those fans who filled Truist Park on Saturday are prepared for another exciting summer.  Last year’s Braves team was one of the best in franchise history. This team has the potential to be even better.

“I was excited before [general manager] Alex [Anthopoulos] made a lot of these moves this winter,” Snitker said. “I think everybody is excited to get to Spring Training and get this thing rolling.”