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All-Star catcher Lopez to join Braves Hall of Fame

Maranville, Pursley also to be inducted during ceremony at Turner Field on May 23

Special to

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- After an offseason spent honoring Hall of Fame pitchers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, the Braves will honor the man who caught many of the duo's pitches.

Former All-Star catcher Javy Lopez, along with former head athletic trainer Dave Pursley and former Boston Braves shortstop Rabbit Maranville, will be inducted into the Braves Hall of Fame on May 23 at the 755 Club at Turner Field.

Lopez, who spent more than a decade in the organization, served as Atlanta's everyday catcher for six seasons, including a record-breaking 2003 campaign. He set the franchise record for most home runs hit in a season by a catcher with 43.

Lopez also batted .328 and drove in 109 runs during his final season with the Braves, winning the National League Silver Slugger Award and finishing fifth in NL Most Valuable Player voting. That season, Lopez helped guide Atlanta to a 12th straight NL East title.

Lopez saved his best season for last, but he came through for the Braves in several key spots during his time in a Braves uniform.

In his first full season as Atlanta's starting catcher in 1996, Lopez helped guide the Braves to their fourth NL pennant in six years. He batted .542 (13-for-24) with two homers and six RBIs in a seven-game NL Championship Series against the Cardinals, earning MVP honors.

But before earning full-time duties behind the plate, Lopez came through during the Braves' World Series victory in 1995.

Catching Glavine in Game 2, Lopez plated the game's deciding runs with a two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth and picked off then-Cleveland Indians outfielder Manny Ramirez at first base for the second out in the top of the eighth.

Lopez also made history outside the postseason, catching Kent Mercker's no-hitter on April 8, 1994. He exited Atlanta ranked eighth in franchise history with 214 home runs and 12th in RBIs with 694.

Pursley left Atlanta one season before Lopez in 2002, but after a much longer tenure. He started with the Braves in Milwaukee, beginning in 1961.

Like the Braves, Pursley also won a title of his own in 1995 when his staff was named the Athletic Training Staff of the Year. He also worked at an All-Star Game in four different decades, including Atlanta's most recent hosting effort in 2000.

Serving the Braves for more than four decades, Pursley racked up numerous honors, including inductions into the National Athletic Trainers Association Hall of Fame, the Professional Baseball Athletic Training Society Hall of Fame and both the Georgia and Indiana Sports Halls of Fame.

Like Lopez and Pursley, Maranville also won a World Series championship during his time with the Braves, but his came in 1914 when the franchise won its first.

Nicknamed "Rabbit," the five-foot-five, 155-pound infielder placed second to teammate Jonny Evers in MVP voting during the regular season in 1914, his second consecutive finish in the top three. He led the NL in defensive WAR three times with 4.2 in '14, 3.2 in '16 and 2.3 in '23.

Maranville played 15 seasons for the Boston Braves, divided amongst three different stints. He owns the distinction as the franchise's all-time triples leader with 103, and he ranks fifth with 1,795 games played and ninth with 194 stolen bases.

Maranville was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1954 with 82.9 percent of the vote -- 17 years after his name first appeared on the ballot.

Joe Morgan is a contributor to

Atlanta Braves