Braves' Riley tees it up for military veterans

June 5th, 2023
Austin Riley and former Falcon Peerless Price pose with one of the foursomes. (Derrian Carter/

DULUTH, Ga. -- Braves third baseman is a revered presence in Atlanta’s clubhouse, showcasing his hitting prowess and work ethic daily for the NL East leaders.

His teammates, in addition to former Braves players and other celebrities, displayed their appreciation in return by attending Riley’s inaugural “Driving for Veterans” charity golf tournament at TPC Sugarloaf Country Club on Monday. The event benefited Team Red, White and Blue (RWB), a nonprofit organization that supports military veterans.

“A lot of the guys in the clubhouse have the same kind of mindset when it comes to our veterans and what they mean to us,” Riley said. “Them showing the support and willingness -- we got in late last night, and they were excited to get up this morning and come out here and support.”

The guest list featured many Braves players, including Travis d’Arnaud, Matt Olson, A.J. Minter, Michael Harris II, Jesse Chavez, Michael Soroka and Kyle Wright. Former players, like two-time NL MVP Dale Murphy, former Braves shortstop Marty Perez and former Atlanta relief pitcher Darren O’Day. Also on hand were National Soccer Hall of Famer Clint Dempsey, College Football Hall of Famer Joe Hamilton and former Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Peerless Price.

Guests entered the country club to the sight of golf carts aligned on the sidewalk, with their respective names printed on each. They greeted one another before the festivities began on the partly cloudy day. Riley gave a welcome speech, thanking the veterans, and the shotgun start began after a rendition of the national anthem by an army veteran.

“What he's done in the past few years, not only on the field but just off the field, just speaks volumes to who Austin is,” said Minter of Riley. “For us players to show up and just support him and what he keeps doing for the community, it's special.”

Austin Riley jumped around the course and played with several of the groups. (Derrian Carter/

Riley partnered with Team RWB last year, hosting a Topgolf event in August. After the 2022 postseason, Riley and Team RWB founder Mike Erwin talked about making the event bigger, which led to the star-studded 18-hole tournament.

Featuring food, silent auctions and activations throughout the course, celebrities took part in the scramble on the Pines and Meadows Golf Course. While some of the esteemed guests played with military veterans, Riley floated around to spend time with groups.

“To have an athlete of [Riley’s] caliber with his platform authentically tell the story about why he wants to support the military and veteran community, it's really powerful,” said Erwin.

There was a lot of Braves memorabilia up for auction after the tournament. (Derrian Carter/

The courses featured tree-lined Bermuda fairways with surprising terrain and various lakes, hills and streams. The tournament also featured a variety of activities that offered beverages, items and experiences, such as the “Charity Golf Guns.” Olson and Harris compared the outing to the 1996 golf comedy “Happy Gilmore,” because of the fun and camaraderie they shared.

The tournament shifted inside the country club after the golfing ended. Guests arrived to live music, catered food and drinks and a display of items that would be sold. The auction featured autographed jerseys from former Braves players Freddie Freeman, Terry Pendleton and Andruw Jones as well as current Braves Ronald Acuña Jr., Riley and Harris. Other items included Braves, college football, NFL and NBA memorabilia, and all profits benefited Team RWB.

“It's all about the veterans,” Riley said. “What they do for us and continue to do for us, not only across seas but when they come back home, they mean [a lot] to me, my wife and everybody around us. I can't thank you guys enough.”